Barista 101 Glossary

Whether you’re a home barista with all the fancy espresso machine equipement or looking to begin a job as a Barista, it’s important to know these important parts of the “bar” ( which is referred to as the main Barista working area).

Bar towels– One for wiping down your station only and one for cleaning the steam wand.

Brew Group– contains the grouphead, portafilter and filter baskets. Some brew groups (see E61) are actively heated, some are passively heated by the boiler through metal on metal contact. The entire brew group should be sufficiently heated in order to brew a proper espresso.

Burr Grinder– the recommended type of grinder for proper espresso making. A burr grinder features two disks, one stationary, one rotating, which grind the coffee bean into very fine particles.

Demitasse– the cup that holds a traditional shot of espresso and the fancy word for the small 3oz. (or smaller) cup. They are most cmmonly porcelain, but also be made of ceramic, stainless steel, or glass. The thicker the walls of the cup the better to retain heat for the 1.5 oz. beverage you crafted.

Dosage: refers to the amount of ground coffee used to produce a shot of espresso. Usually 7 grams per 1.5 ounce single espresso shots.

Doser– found on many burr grinders, releases a measure of coffee grounds as you pull on a lever that is built into the side of the doser.

Double Basket: the most common type of filter basket used with espresso machines and can hold about 14 grams (or more) of coffee grounds.

Drip tray– What your cups sit on underneath the portafilters and catches any access liquids. Espresso machines equipped with a 3 way solenoid valve, the drip tray is also used as the drainage area for the expulsion from the valve after a shot is completed. Drip trays can often be removed to empty or clean, and are made of plastic or metal.

Espresso machine – Most commonly semi automatic in Specialty cafes, will be your baby.

Extraction– When hot water is forced from the boiler though ground coffee, which “extracts” flavors, oils, colloids, lipids and other elements that turn water into brewed coffee or espresso.

Filter Basket– is a metal, flat bottomed “bowl” shaped insert that fits inside a portafilter. The filter basket holds the ground coffee and has tiny holes in the bottom to allow the extracted beverage to seep through and pour into a demitasse cup or shot glass. Most espresso machines include two filter baskets- a single basket and a double basket.

Frothing Pitcher: is a 12 ounce or larger pitcher with a pour spout, and made of high quality stainless steel and used for holding milk while steaming and frothing. They are commonly used to steam cold milk for any milk-based espresso drinks. (a.k.a milk warmer or steaming pitcher)

Frothing Tip– is the perforated tip on a steaming wand. These can have between one and four holes, and the holes can be either angled to the side or pointing straight down. They allow the steam from the espresso machine to be forced into tiny jets which agitate and heat milk at a great pace and also facilitate proper frothing when used to introduce air into the milk.
Grind Setting– the tab on the grinder where you adjust the courseness of your espresso throughout the day.

Grouphead: is the part of the brew group that contains the locking connector for the portafilter and the dispersion screen. The grouphead is also part of maintaining temperature stability in the machine, essential for producing a perfect shot of espresso.

Hopper– is the part of a coffee grinder that holds coffee beans.

Knockbox– a bin or box with a rubber or wooden bar across a wide opening. Used to get the puck out after brewing an espresso shot. The portafilter is tapped against the bar, and the spent puck of coffee grinds is “knocked” out into the bin.

Portafilter– is the device that holds a filter and finely ground coffee and facilitates quick attachment to an espresso machine. Most commonly feature a handle and spouts underneath to allow your espresso to pour into cups.

Puck– is the term used to describe the bed of coffee grounds after you have brewed a shot of espresso. Also called a spent puck.

Pull– a term used to describe brewing a shot of espresso.

Shot– another term to describe a brewed espresso.

Spout– refers to the exit area on a portafilter where the espresso pours out.

Steam Knob– Most espresso machines use a manual valve control knob to release steam from the machine’s boiler and used to control the steam to froth and steam milk.

Steam Wand– is an external pipe found on most espresso machines that is used to froth and steam milk, to provide hot water. It is controlled by a steam knob that opens and closes the steam valve inside the machine.

Tamper– the device used to tamp a bed of loose, finely ground coffee in a portafilter, in preparation for brewing espresso. They are measured in millimeter sizes, corresponding with the filter basket internal diameter of your espresso machine. Most commercial, prosumer, and high end espresso machines use a 58mm tamper. Other common sizes are 49mm, 53mm, and 57mm.

Tamping– the act of pressing and compacting a bed of loose, finely ground coffee, in preparation for brewing espresso. Different machines require different tamping methods. Steam powered espresso requires a leveling tamp, where piston lever, spring lever, and pump espresso requires a more compacting action.

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Jennifer has been in the coffee industry since 2003. She started Daily Demitasse to educate and share her experience with other passionate coffee enthusiasts, from a Barista, Cafe Manager, shop Owner and freelancer perspective. When she's not working or blogging, you can find her at Transpire Life.

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