In order to become a good barista one has to dedicate a lot of time to refining their movements and paying attention to all of the little things that go into a great shot of espresso. But, to truly go beyond that, to become a great barista, it takes even more than knowing your details and honing your technique. It takes a palate. It goes without saying that you should be Appleattuned to your coffees and be tasting them on a regular basis, but for growth it is essential that you really analyze what you are tasting.   This isn’t something that happens overnight (at least in most cases), but something that comes with training and deliberate exercise. Espresso is incredibly potent and very intense as a solo beverage. The more you taste it, the better you will understand the subtleties in each blend you encounter. It will help you to recognize the faults in your extractions, be it over-extraction (bitter, hot and thin), under-extraction (sour, muddled and flat), or even water temperature (too hot will often make the espresso taste a little burnt in the finish). Sometimes it helps to step away from the coffee for a moment and taste something different or, to some, more approachable. The easiest we have tried thus far is a simple apple tasting. All you need for this is paper, pencils, a knife, and 5-10 apples (depending on how many you feel like tasting). There are a myriad of different types of apples out there and sometimes it can be overwhelming to only choose a few. The only ‘essential’ apples you should definitely have are the red delicious and the granny smith. They are two of the most common apples and good for calibration and getting different ends of the spectrum. We usually do it blind (just numbered- no names) and taste one slice at a time while writing taste descriptors, intentionally avoiding the word ‘apple’. It can be difficult initially, but after the first couple you can really tell a vast difference and start using words like ‘pear’, ‘honey’, and sometimes even ‘sweet tarts’. Learning to taste is more about really being present while you are tasting something, using your words to describe it comparatively. Just as there are many types of apples, every type of coffee is unique and has subtle flavors that you have to train yourself to detect. Setting aside a little time with your staff to specifically focus on flavor will help everyone feel more confident in their understanding of what they are preparing and selling and help your customers find a coffee that really fits their taste.  -Holly-