Sample Lesson 2: Barista Workstation


The espresso tamper is an important tool used to evenly compress the espresso grounds into the portafilter. A barista uses a hand tamper to provide a level and polished surface within the portafilter, preparing the espresso for even extraction.


The proper and efficient use of bar towels really helps separate a professional barista from other baristas. We recommend a “three-towel” workstation which includes the following:

1.  A towel for the countertop, located below the espresso machine, out of the view of the customer. This towel is for wiping counters and occasional spills.

2. A towel for wiping out the portafilter between espresso extractions to remove any excess grounds or oils. This towel can often be a dark color to maximize use and longevity, given it is in contact with coffee grounds more than other towels.

3. A dedicated steam wand towel for wiping milk residue from the steam wand after every use. It is important to keep this towel away from all coffee grounds, often it sits on the drip tray or on top of the machine on a saucer.

Digital Scale

A digital scale is an important tool a barista can use to promote consistency in espresso volume, both in weighing the amount of coffee grounds in the portafilter, as well as the amount of liquid that is extracted. It is good to have a scale for training purposes but a good barista will be able to develop consistency thru repetition and by how the espresso is tasting.

Knock Box

The knock box is where we “knock out” the spent espresso grounds from the portafilter. This should ergonomically be within arms reach of the barista and can sit on the counter or can be a “chute” that goes thru the counter into a trash can. We have even seen dedicated pull out drawers and other custom knock box arrangements that fit well within a specific business. In a busy bar you will create an abundance of spent grounds, and we recommend having a knock box that serves your volume and makes sense with your bar flow.

An espresso machine is the equipment that is designed to brew espresso by forcing pressurized water through coffee grounds in the portafilter in order to brew espresso. The espresso machine is the heart of the coffee bar, and is designed for producing espresso and steaming and heating milk, which is the foundation of every espresso menu.

Cleaning Brushes & Tools

A few different brushes are essential to the barista’s cleanliness. As we will learn later on, cleanliness is essential to the overall consistency and quality of your espresso menu.


Counter brush/Combo Brush – A larger brush will be helpful for cleaning espresso and coffee grounds off of the countertops and out of tight places. It is great to have a dry brush to sweep up dry coffee grounds. Some brushes also include a grinder brush, used for smaller areas which is shown here.

Group head brush – A group head brush is a small, hard plastic brush used to clean around the circumference of the grouphead during our backflushing procedure. It may also have a small measuring spoon end to use for dosing your espresso machine cleaner.


Blind Portafilter Basket – This is a basket that fits into your portafilter, that assists in “backflushing” the grouphead by blocking the flow of water when engaged.

Short Screwdriver – The short screwdriver is used for loosening the dispersion screen screw on as well as popping out the portafilter baskets.

Steam wand brush – A steam wand brush looks similar to a pipe cleaner, and is used when the steam wand tip is removed, to clean the inside of the steam wand.