BLOG //
Ulla Suoraniemi //
Helsinki
// 9.5.2018

Reading Tips for Baristas: Basic Coffee Knowledge

Coffee books are important source of knowledge and inspiration for baristas. Here is the list of my favorite coffee books and publications that I especially recommend for baristas that are looking for basic knowledge level. These coffee books are the ones, one should start exploring the world of coffee.

My students are constantly asking for coffee book recommendations; hard core theory, inspirational latte art and coffee book for total coffee nerds. The conversation always begins and ends in the same way: me not remembering the exact title of the coffee book or the author´s name. The end result is that I end up googling the missing information. As a simple human being, I have repeated this pattern over and over again until I finally realized that there is an easier way. I shall make a list of my favorite coffee books and publications. Problem solved! Hallelujah!

In order that this blog is not too heavy & long, I chose two coffee books and one coffee magazine: Coffee Atlas, Better Coffee at Home and Standart magazine. In addition to these, world is full of great coffee books & magazines. My blog is the first part of a series of reading tips for baristas. If you have a particular subject in mind, please tell us! I am sure that topics like latte art, water and roasting are going to be covered also in the future. What else?

But hey, let´s start!

THE WORLD ATLAS OF COFFEE
by James Hoffamann

coffeebook_thewroldcoffeeatlas

If your plan is to read only one coffee book, read this one. The book contains important information from beans to brewing. I would recommend this to every barista and to those who plan to be a barista someday. If you are not planning a career around coffee but you are really into coffee and eager to learn more, then this is THE book for you too. 

James has divided his book in three parts. I´ll briefly open every part to you, so you´ll know what to expect.

PART ONE: INTRODUCTION TO COFFEE

This part is about the differences of Arabica and Robusta, their original names and interesting facts about them. The story of a coffee tree takes you from the seed to tree and you´ll learn what is meant by “a nursery” when talking about coffee. 

“Coffee is a part of our everyday lives, yet how many of us outside the coffee-producing countries have ever seen, or would even recognize, a coffee cherry? “ James writes. Good question and probably the answer is not that many. 

In this section James writes about the coffee fruit, the seed, and the varieties but also introduces different ways of harvesting coffee and different processing methods. As a barista you need to understand why processing methods have such huge effect on the resulting cups. 

PART TWO: FROM BEAN TO CUP

What is the roaster´s responsibility? Even if you are not a roaster yourself, it is super important to understand the whole chain. Fast or slow, light or dark? What are the stages of roasting and why do we care about them?

Tasting and describing coffee. This part sometimes passes out of baristas minds when they concentrate on latte art too much. It should'nt be forgotten though! As a barista, you cannot sell the coffee without knowing how it tastes and why it tastes as it tastes. From this section you´ll learn what is meant by sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel, balance, flavor etc. 

Barista´s responsibility: grinding, the role of water, brewing basics and brew quides: how to make coffee with the French press, Pour over methods, Filter coffee machines, Aeropress, Moka pot and Vacuum pot. In addition you´ll find six pages of espresso knowlegde. And let´s not forget steaming milk. At the end of this section you´ll find most common espresso-based drinks and home roasting tips. 

PART THREE: COFFEE ORIGINS

The last part of this books introduces 29 coffee producing countries. You´ll learn a bit of (coffee) history of each country, taste profile of each country and growing regions inside each country. Amazing! 

BREW BETTER COFFEE AT HOME
by Brian W. Jones

coffeebook_brewbettercoffeeathome

Do you love coffee? Would you like to learn about it but have no plans on making coffee your profession? Yes? Yes? Then this book is a must-buy for you.

The book starts with an overview of where coffee beans come from, what is the impact that a coffee´s origin, processing, and roasting has on a flavor. With this information you´ll find it easier to understand and decide what type of coffee beans you enjoy most. 

Table of contents:

If a barista talks to you about SL28, Typica or Geisha, do you know what the heck they are talking about? After this book you´ll know. THE BEAN section covers information about varietals, harvesting, processing, buying and storing coffee. There may not be as much information as in the Coffee Atlas but absolutely enough if you are just learning for fun. 

Why on earth should I buy a scale?? Extraction..huh? While many people say that making coffee is an art, it´s mostly just simple science. What is common with Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita and Melitta? What about the differences then? If you are not sure, then I recommend you to read this book. THE TOOLS & THE BREW sections tell you what tools you´ll need and why (when brewing coffee), how a cupping is organized and how to taste coffees. Also, if you are not sure what cupping means, buy this book :)

Under THE METHODS you´ll find brew guides to eight different ways of making coffee: Pour over, Chemex, Electric drip machine, French press, Aeropress, Moka Pot, Cold Brew concentrate and Flash-chilled pour over.

Last but not least: RECIPES. Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration! 35 pages of coffee drink recipes, with and without alcohol. This part alone is a good enough reason to get this book :)

STANDART MAGAZINE - standing for the art of coffee

coffeemagazine_standart

Have you heard of this? THE Standart? It´s a magazine that is like a small book. It´s thick, pretty and full of important information. The articles in Standart covers wide range of topics relevant to the coffee industry. In addition the layout, photography and illustration of the magazine is excellent. The magazine's appearance is so appealing that many cafés leave their Standard issues for customers to see. They work as decorative elements as well :) 

Standart is born in Slovakia. People behind this amazing release says that their passion is not posh or hipster – good coffee can be the standard for every cup. Nicely said, I think.

Depending on the issue, you can find lots of coffee related information under headlines like: Coffee, people, Barista, Ritual, World… This magazine is not something you can browse through quickly. Or you can, but it does not make sense. You should take your time, enjoy and learn. The magazine is published quarterly. If you got interested, click here.

Remember to share your own reading tips in the comments!

To be continued...