Kirsty's Barista Journey: Week 2

Kirsty's Barista Journey: Week 2
Written by
Kirsty Evans

So, It’s my first attempt! Here I am at the coffee machine.

I thought it all looked so easy and I was about to make an amazing cappuccino, but I was definitely wrong… First off I ground the coffee into the portafilter and managed to get coffee grounds absolutely EVERYWHERE. After the third attempt I had managed not to spill any grounds and get the coffee level even by holding the portafilter properly. Next, I placed the handle into the group head and unfortunately that was about the only thing that ran smoothly.

Milk was next and I stayed optimistic and thought to myself that I was about to produce the best cappuccino froth in the world, instead I managed to burn the milk and in turn it exploded into the air and went all over my manager - way to make a good first impression! Below is a picture of the milk I produced that day, I hope I don’t offend anyone as I learnt that this is a complete no go; milk should always have a glossy finish and ideally next to no bubbles.

After that I resorted to the automatic coffee machine as the real thing seemed like such a daunting prospect. I now also have a lot of respect for baristas in coffee shops, especially on busy days I don’t know how they possibly cope with the pressure!

A couple of days later I decided to head down to the coffee machine to attempt a cappuccino as the push-button coffee machine was not as appealing as everyone’s amazing coffees in the office! I went down to the coffee machine later in the afternoon whilst it was quiet, I thought all went well until I took a sip, I had completely burnt the milk! One of my co-workers Tim asked if I needed any help, so I decided to take him up on the offer. He talked me through the process step by step, he also suggested I always foam the milk before brewing the espresso; although this is up for debate at Tchibo! I have now realised that getting the milk right is integral for a great cappuccino.

These are the simple steps I have been trying to follow each time I make a cappuccino:

  •  Fill the cold milk up to the spout of the jug, dip the tip of the steam wand into the milk and proceed to steam the milk.
  • When the foam is being created the volume of the milk increases. When this happens lower the pitcher but still keep the milk submerged to heat it thoroughly and let it circulate naturally
  • When the jug is too hot to touch (approx. 65 Celsius degrees) , turn off the steamer and tap the jug firmly down on a countertop to eliminate any large bubbles from the foam.
  • Continue by swirling the milk round the jug to create a glossy finish.
  •  Pour from the side of the jug to help distributing the foamed milk and the steamed milk evenly.


 Below is the result of my second ever attempt at making a cappuccino, not the best but a big improvement from a few days prior. One piece of advice I would give to anyone who’s just starting to learn about coffee on a bigger scale is to accept help from other people! The world of coffee may seem daunting initially but everyone was once in this position at the start of their coffee career. If you are persistent and willing to learn from your mistakes you will gain an amazing skill and also challenge yourself along the way!

I have my barista training session in a couple of weeks’ time and a positive from this is that I can try and learn as much as possible from my own resources and challenge myself beforehand. Now I feel like I have learnt the basic steps of milk for a cappuccino but I really need to start focusing on learning about other types of coffee too. In a bid to polish up my coffee making skills I have decided to make myself a coffee every day and document my journey along the way, maybe I will be a pro in two months’ time?