The Death Of The Death Of The Barista

November 30, 2015

Super-automatic espresso machines are getting better. I think it’s safe to say that in the not-too-distant future, they’ll be able to make coffee as consistently as a well trained barista. The efficiencies they provide are such a strong argument that their uptake is guaranteed in a significantly large portion of the service industry—both specialty and otherwise.

So where does that leave the Barista?

At La Marzocco’s Out of the Box event in Milan, I presented my argument for why the proliferation of super-automatic machines could be a good thing for the barista profession.

There’s some good questions at the end from an audience that weren’t exactly stoked about my topic choice. I need to repeat my thanks to La Marzocco for letting me talk about this at their event. A lesser company would’ve had me talk about pressure profiling or tamping pressure instead.

For something similar, I highly recommend reading Colin Harmon’s post from 5 years ago (he’s so ahead of his time!!), about weighing shots and the role of the Barista of the future!

I understand that I’m inviting much criticism by posting this video, but please keep these things in mind before raining too much hate:

- This is a think piece. Not a damning of baristas or equipment manufacturers.
- If you don’t think I’m into quality coffee, please read this blog again.
- The machines I’m talking about here would merely replicate given recipes. They won’t be prescient or be able to taste (or maybe they would be?).
- Yes, latte art does matter. There’ll be even more time for that in this future (yay).
- I’m yet to see a super-automatic machine that can replicate the work of a highly skilled barista though I have seen some that come close!

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