Today’s my first day as a professional barista. I started work at Gloria Jean’s at the Raffles City branch. Their setup is a La Marzocco 3 group GB5 and a La Marzocco Swift grinder and auto-tamper.
The La Marzocco GB5 is a beaut to work with. By the lunch hour, I was already pulling shot after shot. The Swift makes life easier. You get to skip the DLT (Dose-Level-Tamp). No need to worry about grinding too much or leaving grinds in the hopper, no need to tamp. The beans are ground to order. You just have to lock in the portafilter on the Swift, and push the ergonomically placed button to start the grind & tamp. It’s a one-hand operation. And it sure saves plenty of time. The one gripe I have with the Swift is when you disengage the portafilter, the portafilter will have clumps around the edge of the basket. I was advised to give it a tap. But as you know, this tap will introduce some uneven distribution, which would be more noticeable had I used a naked portafilter.
I was asked to memorize pages 8 to 15 of the ops manual, which included an explanation of espresso, the machine, the grinder, and the barista – the 4 M’s, as well as a glossary on coffee. I was a tad overconfident and skimmed through it in 5 minutes. I was then given a quiz on what I’ve read. Whoops! Not sure how I did, but at least I got the 4 M’s right.
It was really fun to be working on such a tight schedule, with orders pouring in, and the team of 5 constantly weaving in and out and around each other. All teamwork. I got a few take away orders mistaken as eat in’s. Newbie in the house.
An Australian couple was standing behind us, watching our routine. The guy was explaining to his companion. They later came over and ordered (2 caps, I think.) He began asking one of the staff on his opinion of the Swift. My colleague replied he’d rather have the Mazzer Mini. I asked the chap, “So, are you snob or a Geek?” He had to do a double take. I then explained the lingo, and he mentioned he has visited coffeegeek.com. Lucky me, if not, I’ll definitely be hearing from the manager on day 1.
Frothing milk was fast and furious. I wasn’t briefed on how to froth milk yet, but it seems I’ll have lots of practice in the days to come. The steam wand sounds like afterburners on, full throttle. My Quickmill Anita is a dainty lil lady, compared to Big Brother here. While the Anita makes a few ripples in the milk, the GB5 churns a whirlpool powerful enough to swallow the Titanic twice over.
I’m fulfilling one of my life’s ambitions: to be a professional barista. Can’t wait to see what’s in store.