So what is a Barista? Here is what Wikipedia says:
When using the term in English, "barista" refers to one who has acquired some level of expertise in the preparation of espresso-based coffee drinks. Within certain circles, its meaning is expanding to include what might be called a coffee sommelier; a professional who is highly skilled in coffee preparation, with a comprehensive understanding of coffee, coffee blends, espresso, quality, coffee varieties, roast degree, espresso equipment, maintenance, latte art, etc. James Hoffmann of Britain is the current World Barista Champion.
Though popularly believed to be an Italian term, it was developed in America as a derivative of the Italian word meaning bartender and is now part of the lexicon of some American coffee shops. Entered into English from the Italian in which it means roughly bartender (plural: baristi [masculine or mixed sex] or bariste [feminine]). The term is derived from the Italian use of the word bar, which is similar to the American or British cafe. In Italy, the barista typically works behind a counter, serving both hot (such as espresso and other coffee-based ones) and cold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
This question (from my good friend Jenny) brought to mind the coffee competitions I have watched on Food Network. Besides the Fine Living channel, History channel, the HDTV channnel, and Bravo (for watching Cirque Du Soleil); the Food Network channel is my favorite. I love to watch competitions~Cake Baking Cookoffs, Bar-B-Que competitions, Iron Chief Battles and the upcoming Canadian National Barista Championship, which will be on Food Network Saturday night (11/24) at 6:30 EST. You have no idea what these talented people can do and design on top of a cup of cappuccino. It is fun to watch~
(*above Starbuck Bears are the ones I HAVE bought. I decided after my beenie baby days, I would not do collecting like that again~it was not an easy decision).