Barista Pathway: What is it?

slider411024x351By Emeran Langmaid, BGA Pathways Committee Member

Being a barista does involve grinding, dosing, tamping, pulling the perfectly dialed in espresso shot, steaming beautiful milk and pouring a stunning complex tulip in the cup. However, that is just part of the job. Being a great barista also involves knowing the journey of the bean, why and how all the variables work in harmony to create the perfect espresso, and maybe most importantly, how to create a wonderful, personalized experience for your customers. The Barista Pathways are a set of classes and certifications that teaches how to be a great barista and increase employment opportunities within the coffee industry.

Defining “Barista”

According to the Barista Guild of America, the definition of a barista is one who “prepares coffee and espresso-based beverages that demonstrate craftsmanship and quality, creating a culinary experience for the customer.”

Navigating the Pathways

How do you get from being interested in coffee or even working in a cafe, to being a “barista." That is exactly the purpose of the Barista Pathways: to move people interested in coffee along an educational pathway that instills standards for quality and craftsmanship.


It starts with two levels of certifications: Barista Level 1 and Barista Level 2. Barista Level 1 provides a foundation of skills and Level 2 provides more focuses skills for experienced baristas. The combination of classes results in a calibrated knowledge and skill set. The specific course load can be found on the SCAA Educational Pathways website. Classes for Level 1 include Customer Service Essentials, Brewing and Extraction Principles, Seed to Cup, Orientation to SCAA Cupping, Espresso Extraction and Milk Steaming. Classes for Level 2 include Grind, Dose, Tamp, Extraction; Bar Efficiency and Workflow, Latte Art, and Equipment Maintenance.

Benefits of Barista Pathways

One of the most important benefits of the Barista Pathways is introducing and welcoming people interesting in the coffee industry to a network of coffee professionals who are legitimately passionate about their work. The coffee industry is so much larger that a perfect tulip in a cup. There have to be satisfied customers to have an industry. In most cases, the barista is on the front lines representing the millions of people within the specialty coffee industry worldwide to the customer. Now, that is exciting and should carry a bit of pressure to represent the hard work that goes into every bean that enters the grinder.

Being a barista is usually the entry point for most people in the specialty coffee industry. If you are passionate about your job and want to make a career out of working in the specialty coffee industry, Barista Pathways is a great way to start.

Emeran Langmaid is owner of A&E Coffee Roastery & Tea, LLC. Established in 2001, A&E Coffee & Tea is a certified organic coffee roaster and whole-leaf tea blender and purveyor. Emeran is a Q grader, BGA Barista Level 1, US Barista and Brewers Cup Judge, SCAA Lead Instructor.

BlogDanny Pinnell