What it takes to be a home barista

In 2014 – I ordered my first espresso machine from Clive. I was drawn to the craft of making espresso at home and thought the machines were beautiful pieces of kitchen art. I quickly learned a few things:

  1. Espresso milk drinks are pretty easy to get right.
  2. Espresso shots take a bit more practice. It’s nice to have a team behind you that is willing to stay on the phone to help.
  3. It is wildly less expensive and better than most cafes.
  4. The exploration and hobby is almost as enjoyable as the coffee itself.

I prefer milk drinks and those can hide a lot of imperfections, so within a couple days the lattes tasted wonderful. It took me about 6 weeks to get “good” at pulling straight espresso shots. I dedicated about 15 minutes each morning to doing so. In that time, I’d taste and refine. It turned into a morning routine that was equal parts craft, science and fun – for both me and my wife.

In the end, I learned the magic formula: 20 grams of ground coffee in > even tamp > 25-30 second extraction > 30 grams of coffee out. It seems complex, but it is actually a very simple formula to get right. You, of course, need a good espresso machine with an even better grinder (this is key). A scale is incredibly helpful. With those basic pieces, it may take you a couple hours at most to dial in a beautiful latte or cappuccino. The team at Clive was wonderful at coaching me through the process.

Steaming milk and pouring latte art is my favorite part. I watched the milk steaming tutorial online which helped me immensely. The texture of the drinks is just so much better than what I could get at my local cafe, it makes me wonder what training they go through.

It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst

In the end, I loved the process so much, I invested in Clive Coffee in 2016. The customer service was so excellent I wanted to be part of it. My full time job now is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to become home baristas. I upgraded to an ECM Synchronika and Macap M7D in April 2017. I am still learning every day, but that schooling is delicious.


The author, Adam Raper, in his home in Park City, Utah.