The Professional Barista’s Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea

FROM THE AUTHOR: When I began in the coffee business fourteen years ago, I read every book I could find about coffee. After reading all of those books, however, I felt as if I hadn’t learned much about how to make great coffee. My coffee library was chock-full of colorful descriptions of brewing styles, growing regions, and recipes, with a few almost-unreadable scientific books mixed in. I would have traded in all of those books for one serious, practical book with relevant information about making great coffee in a café.

Fourteen years later, I still haven’t found that book. I know many other professionals as well as some obsessive nonprofessionals would like to find that same book I’ve been looking for. This book is my attempt to give it to them.

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  1. SKL 14/11/2012 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Excellent, Concise and Focused with Good Book Layout YES, i paid full price for this book and have read it. My first review :)This book is backed by the author’s personal experience. It is very well researched and written. The in-depth and focused content, book (design) layout and overall flow are amazingly well-balanced for beginners as well as professionals.If you love coffee, this is a good book for you. If you’ve romanced about being a barista, this is THE book.THIS BOOK IS NOT… * a recipe book * about tea. The tea chapter is only 3-page long. * about coffee roasting * about instant coffeeTHE FIRST IMPRESSION.Before opening the cover, the 100-page “Professional Barista’s Handbook” (2009 Edition) can be unassuming with a dash of textbook-like dryness. However, the robust hardcover and binding are excellent, as if the author and publisher have anticipated heavy usage on counter top. The pages are printed on superbly thick, non-reflective paper. It is also slightly more water resistant than usual.* This solid book is expensive to manufacture.The typography (fonts and size), design and layout gave the book great ease in casual browsing for information as well as cover-to-cover reading. Every pages or so are filled with hands-on photos, charts, hints, special in-depth notes, diagrams and illustrations. The design is nothing fancy, simple yet functional. However, i do find a few of the photos a bit too dark.The content is very concise with minimal fluff. There are no long-winded personal stories or overly scientific explanations of coffee making. Most subtopics are kept within half a page before moving to the next. The information and ideas in this book are referenced and carefully remarked. This book has the potential of bringing many new insights to a professional barista.THE ESSENCEIn some respects, Scott Rao wrote this book for his younger self, when he started his coffee business. He explained, 14 years ago, he read every book on coffee he could find, but none explain how to make great coffee in details.This book is arguably like a ‘God Shot’ espresso, he took the best stuff from those books, coupled with more than a decade of practical experience while keeping the ‘ugliness’ away.This book is most suitable for beginners as there are primers that explain the technical ideas and terminologies. Early on, Scott dives into buying espresso machines, coffee grinders and some handy equipments to have. He digested the purchasing considerations into a few simple points, and carefully explains why. There is a reasonably good Glossary at the end of the book for beginners.While many aspects of coffee making are subjective, Scott made good arguments about getting a good grinder as a primary step before considering the espresso machine.Of all 9 chapters, 2 to 4 are sufficient to get the reader (itching) to start pulling shots and experiment with various techniques and ideas.In the early chapters, there are easy to understand yet sufficiently technical aspects of * Grinding Beans for Espresso * Dosing and Distribution * Grooming and Tamping * Water Temperature * Multiple Preinfusion methods * Pressure Requirements * Cultural difference of US vs. Italian espresso making stylesChapter 3 may probably be very valuable to home or professional baristas. The author dived into the science and theories about various factors that influence PERCOLATION and EXTRACTION. At the end of this chapter, Scott referred us to a chart (by Schecter) that highlights brewing ratios for various espresso types such as Lungo, Ristretto and more.For those who loves latte art and prefer milk with their coffee, Chapter 4 is for you. It contains essential information about MILK – steaming, foaming, pouring, methods, latte art and more. There is a very interesting short story of his experience in New Zealand with regard to Cafe Latte.The rest of the chapters about coffee talks about * Barista Systems [5] * Drip Coffee [6] * French Press Coffee [7] * Water and the Chemistry [8]CONCLUSIONThis book clearly does not tries to be everything for everyone.I think it is reasonable and arguably so… that the book does not talk about other methods like the Clover system, Cold/Ice Drip method, the Syphon and a few more. Another substantial topic missing is Coffee Beans. Dedicating a few pages to beans, maybe on choosing beans, sun-dried or washed, bean types and sizes might (?) make the book more interesting. My instinct tells me, the author intentionally excluded the high subjective matter of beans. There are plenty of books on that. It shows the author’s clarity, focus and intention.In short, this book revolves around a barista. Hence, the book title…

  2. Wu Kwok Cheung "Desmond Wu" 14/11/2012 at 5:45 am - Reply

    Good enough for professional easy enough fro home barista After reading so many coffee books, this is the one that I had been looking for. One can learn what you need for making a espresso after reading this book. If Illy’s espresso has too much unnecessary information, this handbook is just of the right dose. With this book you will save years, hundreds pound of bean, learning the skill of making a true espresso.

  3. Pim Bezemer 14/11/2012 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Everything you need to become a Barista This book contains everything you need to know about how to prepare a proper espresso, cappucino, latte, tea. The book is very comprehensive, contains a ton of smart hints and tips and is THE bible for every coffee geek.PS I was positively suprised about the prompt action of Watergliders, where I’ve purchased this book.

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