Life as a barista isn’t as simple as pouring some dark roast into a cup and putting the lid on. Many consider it an art and are passionate coffee lovers themselves. Life behind the counter is espresso shot fueled, and months of training go into making a simple latte.
Find out what three of Bloomington’s baristas have to say on the college student’s drink of choice.
Tyler Gress, barista at the Pourhouse Café
How long he’s been a barista: one year and half
What he can expect from a shift: “Well it’s going to be caffeine-addled you can be sure of that; generally I’d say a lot of baristas are really into coffee culture and I’m one of them. I like doing and looking at the science behind it: extraction times and temperatures and the almost seemingly pretentious side of coffee.”
How long it took him to master the equipment: “I’d say it took until like two-ish months. But that was also with me looking up videos online, because like I said, I get a little nerdy about it.”
How much coffee he drinks behind the scenes: “It can be around six-eight shots in like a shift and that’s 6 hours, so that’s maybe a ludicrous amount of coffee, and it’s just keeping me awake at this point. So I think a lot of us have a lot more coffee than we need to.”
The most popular drink at The Pourhouse Café: Chai Tea Latte.
His favorite drink to make: “Usually just a straight up latte because you get to get a little creative with it if you want to try to splash some art in at the end, that’s super fun. You pull the shots right, then you froth the milk right, then you can try to make a design.”
Samuel Sveen, owner of EUL ZING Coffee
How long he’s been a barista: more than five years
How he got his start: “In 2010 I worked at Gimme! Coffee, based in Ithaca, New York, which is a third-wave roasterie and espresso bar, so it was really intense and we did a lot of training and lab stuff. That was where I got into coffee.”
How long it took him to master the equipment: “At Gimme!, you had to work the register for three months before you could even touch an espresso machine, and then you went back in the training lab, and then you worked with them for a couple weeks."
Why he loves being a barista: “I always just liked interacting with people and meeting a lot of people. I mean there’s a lot of small talk, but if you see people enough you kind of get to know them and ask about their families or what they’re up to this weekend. And then I also really like making coffee, especially the espresso and doing the latte art is really fun.”
Why he chose to sell cold-brew at EUL ZING: “A hot cup of coffee, a latte, can you send that through the mail? No. Can you put that in a store anywhere else? It’s only good when it’s hot and fresh. So the cold brew that’s already stable, well you can bottle it and now I’m selling it in 15 different locations as we speak."
Danielle Doyle, manager at Blu Boy Chocolate Café and Cakery
How long she’s been a barista: two years
How long it took her to master the equipment: “Because everything we use is manual, it took me two to three months to get a good handle on everything, and even know if I don’t pull shots for a few weeks because I’m busy with back of house it’ll take me a good 15-20 minutes to get back in the swing of things.”
Her role at Blu Boy now: “It’s now my responsibility to train people on the espresso machine and the types of coffee we use. So I guess my knowledge and my skill have expanded because now I have to take a skill I learned and effectively teach it to anyone who comes into work for us.”
Her favorite drink to make: “One of my favorite things to make is what we call an Undertow. It’s cold milk at the bottom of a cup and then you put a little piece of paper down and then you pour warm espresso on top of it. Then you pull out the paper slowly so when you drink it the cold milk comes underneath the warm espresso like an undertow in the ocean. It’s the execution of getting the espresso on top and the milk on the bottom without them mixing that’s awesome to make and to drink."
The most popular drink at Blu Boy: Chai Tea Latte
How much coffee she drinks behind the scenes: “Right now because I’m training, that means tasting every single shot, even it it’s just a sip out of shots that are pulled. When my trainee is pulling 30-40 shots a day, those little sips kind of add up over time, so I definitely probably drink more than I should."
What she loves about being a barista: “You have your regulars and some days you just look forward to the normalcy of what your regulars bring.”