Milk Pitcher Grips
The way a barista holds the milk pitcher determines which muscles are being used during pouring. All the most comfortable and ergonomic hand grips involve a relaxed shoulder and an upright standing position. The shoulders should be dropped and level, with no tension in them. It then becomes a question of how much elbow, wrist, or finger action contributes to the pour. Choosing the best grip is a matter of identifying your strengths with each grip; whichever grip permits the most relaxed and fluid motions without causing you to tense up or shake involuntarily will be the one to go with. Unlike tennis players who switch between forehand and backhand grips, top baristas tend to choose one grip and apply it to their entire repertoire of designs.
The many variations on how the pitcher is held can be reduced to four main types: the throttle grip, the palm grip, the pencil grip, and the L grip.
This grip involves the index finger and the thumb shifting forwards onto the barrel of the pitcher. This is Matt’s preferred hold. This grip has the effect of reducing wrist movements, so brush strokes rely more on movements from the elbow. The effect of the fingers moving forwards from off the handle to a position in front of the handle also straightens the milk pitcher by an angle of around 20 degrees. As a result, reaching the drawing height of <1 cm becomes more difficult with the throttle grip. Holding the cup close to the benchtop will make the surface of the beverage easier to reach. If you prefer to hold the cup very high, use the cradle grip or pencil grip instead.
This grip involves wrapping the fingers around the base of the milk pitcher, usually below the handle. It is particularly effective on handleless pitchers. This has the effect of tilting the spout forwards, which can improve your ability to reach the drawing height. This may be helpful to trainees who struggle to create clear white lines on the surface of the coffee.