The coffee profession has many career opportunities like a taster or a coffee journalist, but the spotlight is always on the barista. Lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and other great-tasting coffee drinks would not be available without a barista.
Baristas are the guys behind the counter whipping up the almond milk, syrup, espresso shots, and other ingredients to make a cup of coffee. Baristas are the guys who see a customer and automatically know what their preferences are.
Being a barista is not something taught at school if it is a career path you wish to pursue. Most barista jobs do not require a formal degree, but some certification or training might be necessary.
If you have a passion for putting smiles on people’s faces through coffee, then being a barista might be for you. By the time you are done reading, you should have all the necessary information to let you know if this career path is for you.
Who Is A Barista?
A barista is someone who works alongside other staff in a coffeehouse, restaurant, or other foodservice outlets to serve caffeinated beverages and other food items on the menu.
A barista combines the role of a waiter and a customer service staff, as the barista interacts directly with the customers. Customer relationships are crucial to baristas, as their attitude can decide who returns and who doesn’t.
What Are The Qualities Needed To Become A Barista?
Every job role has requirements needed to succeed, asides from a formal degree. Prospective baristas are required to have specific skills to perform optimally at the job.
Hiring managers will be on the lookout for these qualities, which include;
1. Cheerful and outgoing personality
Since you are going to be in constant communication with customers, it only makes sense that you build rapport with as many as you can. Baristas indirectly act in a customer service role, so a smile and a sense of humor would make an excellent addition.
2. Great attention to detail
As a barista, you be tcould be taking orders from six customers simultaneously, with each having different preferences. If you are not careful, you might mix up ingredients in certain drinks. If that isn’t bad enough, you might mix up orders and receive backlash from angry customers.
As a barista, you will need to get all the orders right, up to the addition of whipped cream or toppings. Attention to detail as a barista cannot be overemphasized.
3. Flexible And Possibly Open To Work Long Hours
As a barista, there are chances that you will work on weekends because people never really stop drinking coffee. There is no telling how long shifts might turn out to be, but if a colleague calls in sick, be prepared to fill in for them.
4. Basic numeric and money handling skills
You don’t necessarily have to be a pro at Microsoft Excel or some statistical tool. Just don’t make errors when receiving money paid by customers, and be accurate with refunds.
5. Ability To Thrive Under Pressure
There may be hours or shifts when a surge in customers (like a morning rush) could be overwhelming, but what are you going to do? Customers are good for business, and as a barista, you should be able to put up with a large number of customers and not crack under pressure.
As a barista, you could spend some of your spare time thinking about improving the restaurant’s menu. You can try out mixing flavors or syrups and recommend them to your employer.
7. Team Player
A barista will constantly communicate with co-workers and fellow baristas to ensure that customers achieve optimum satisfaction.
8. Some Level Of Hygiene And Adherence To Protocols
Baristas will need to be clean and stick to specific rules governing the hygiene of restaurants. This is because they are handling products that are being consumed directly, and the slightest health hazard could be fatal.
9. Passionate about coffee
If you are going to apply for a barista role, you better be passionate about your craft and art. Craft and art in this context refer to a love for coffee, knowledge about drink combos, and essential equipment being used.
What Is The Job Description Of A Barista Like?
Here is what a typical barista’s job description looks like;
- 1. Preparing coffee and other coffee-based beverages.
- 2. Taking customer’s payments via cash, card, or POS machines.
- 3. Maintaining a clean workspace free of contaminants.
- 4. Educate new baristas on making coffee drinks, using the machines, and process selected payment methods.
- 5. Keeping track of inventory like coffee beans, disposable serving cups and informing the warehouse manager to make requests for replacements.
- 6. Suggesting new drinks to new and existing consumers.
- 7. Receiving supply orders, examine the invoice, and move orders to the storeroom.
There may be other responsibilities assigned to you as time goes on, but these responsibilities are standard in any coffee shop.
How Much Can I Earn As A Barista?
A typical barista’s salary starts at $11.50 to $12 per hour in the United States of America. However, some companies like Starbucks pay $15 per hour. Baristas working for more prominent franchises may earn more than their counterparts working at smaller-scale diners.
Expect to earn anywhere between $23,000 to $30,000 per hour. As for tips, baristas could receive additional tips ranging between $15 to $20 per shift.
How Do I Become A Barista Then?
Since you won’t need any formal education to become a barista, how do you land a gig at a coffee shop? Below is a guide to becoming a self-taught barista before you begin applying to entry-level roles with real responsibility.
1. Familiarize Yourself With Coffee Lingo
Don’t know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino or what it means for a drink to be skinny? You will need to research and familiarize yourself with the industry terminology, as you’ll hear many of them when taking orders.
2. Practice And Hone Your Skills At Home
You can buy a used espresso or Keurig machine and learn with it. Figure how the machines work, whether they can brew espresso k-cups, and other essential things. Practice makes perfect!
3. Watch YouTube Tutorial Videos Or Take An Online Course
Almost anything can be learned online by either downloading many self-explanatory videos to taking courses with certifications that teach them. There are many videos available on YouTube that teach beginners all they need to know about being a barista.
You can also search on an MOOC (massive open online course) platform like Alison or Udemy for classes that teach how to become a barista.
4. Practice All You Have Learnt With Friends And Family
You can set up a stand at your neighborhood party and serve some coffee to family and friends. This will help you build on your ability to receive feedback, constructive criticism, and, most importantly, customer service skills.
5. Search For Opportunities That Don’t Require Prior Experience
Some coffee shops would require applicants to have experience, while other local chains would be willing to employ young talent and train them for the role.
Restaurants which require little to no experience are better suited to those just starting as baristas to build their career. You might also volunteer to work for free and learn on the job.
6. Start As A Busser Or Cashier
Busser or cashier roles usually require no previous experience, and these are roles great for starters. Prove your worth in this role, and work your way up the ladder from here.
Opening a Coffee Shop (Video)
The spotlights are always on baristas to produce the perfect frappuccino or chocolate mocha, but these experts all started somewhere. If you have a passion for coffee and embody all the qualities listed above, then a barista might be your next job title.
Go out there, study terminologies and what they mean, research on types of coffee drinks, practice with friends and send out your resume till you find a coffee shop willing to take a bet on hiring you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Any Certifications or Membership Bodies For Baristas?
There are a couple of certifications and programs you can attend to become a certified barista. These include the;
1. Specialty Coffee Association’s Coffee Skills Program hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
2. Bellissimo’s American Barista & Coffee Workshops
What Online Learning Platform Has A Course You Can Recommend?
Udemy has the Professional Barista Level 1 Certified Program, which teaches quality and consistency with espresso and specialty coffee drinks.
What Are The Highest Educational Requirements Employers Require?
Most employers are okay with GED, or a high school diploma at least.