How do I become a barista?

I get asked this questions a lot! Unfortunately there is no formal process or qualification to become a barista in Australia. To be honest, most people get thrown in the deep end and learn as they go. Barista courses are a good place to get started but definitely don’t make you a qualified barista or help you manage the stresses of a busy cafe environment.

We’re hoping to change this at Melbourne Coffee Academy. That’s why we launched the first Barista Apprenticeship program for the specialty coffee industry in Australia. The aim is to not just to equip students with technical skills but also the practical and real-life skills needed to work within the hospitality industry. This means in-depth specialty coffee training along with hands-on, real-time cafe experience in a high volume environment. We believe there is no quicker (and more complete) way to learn coffee skills than to be coached by professionals in a fast-paced, high volume cafe environment. The goal of the program is to help you find work as a barista, therefore part of the course is dedicated to refining your resume and helping to create work opportunities.

What we currently offer with this course is only a starting point but we believe there is so much more we can do as an industry to create a dedicated pathway to becoming a barista. The coffee industry is thriving and we firmly believe there is a strong future and career path for dedicated, well equipped coffee professionals.

How to make an espresso

Making a well executed espresso doesn’t have to be difficult. Here we break down our procedure at the Melbourne Coffee Academy. This is crucial in becoming a barista or making great coffee at home as it forms the basis of all espresso beverages. To learn more, check out our Basic Espresso Course.


  1. Remove portafilter from the group head.

  2. Purge group head for 3 seconds to remove excess coffee from the shower screen.

  3. Wipe drip tray to ensure a clean surface. A wet drip tray will promote cross contamination and pick up stray coffee grinds.

  4. Tap portafilter on the knock box to dislodge the coffee puck.

  5. Wipe out portafilter with a clean, dry tea towel.

  6. Place portafilter on the scales and tare.

  7. Dose coffee into the centre of the portafilter.

  8. Distribute by tapping the portafilter gently twice with your palm to settle the grinds and centralise them.

  9. To remove any air pockets tap the portafilter on a flat surface.

  10. Return portafilter to scales to ensure you are within 0.1 grams of prescribed dose. Add or remove grinds accordingly.

  11. Tamp the coffee levelly with an even amount of pressure. Make sure to calibrate tamp pressure with the other baristas in your team.

  12. Apply pressure with your weight and shoulder rather than your wrist to alleviate strain and avoid injury.

  13. Clean the rim of the basket to avoid coffee grinds sitting up on the gasket seal.

  14. Gently place the portafilter into the group head to avoid cracking the puck.

  15. Turn on the group head immediately to begin extraction.

  16. Steps 1-14 should be done as quickly as possible to avoid losing thermal mass in the portafilter.

  17. Assess the flow rate and evenness of the extraction.

  18. Look out for channelling, which can happen because of uneven tamping, sloppy distribution or rough handling when inserting the portafilter.

  19. If the volumetrics are setup correctly the extraction should automatically stop at the at the desired yield.

  20. Check shot times. They should be within +/- 3 seconds of the desired time

Click here to learn more about our Basic Espresso Course.