A barista is someone that specializes in making and serving a variety of beverages. They usually work at a coffee shop, bookstore, or in a bar that serves coffee or espresso specialty drinks. Besides, most baristas do more than make great tasting drinks. They also help with inventory, running a cash register, and problem resolution. Many get paid per hour, but often can earn tips in addition to their hourly wage.
How to Become a Barista
Generally, there are no educational requirements to become a barista; however, most baristas have a least a high school diploma or equivalent. More than often, coffee shops or larger franchises require you to be 18 years old and provide training to the employees. Training may include roasting beans, brewing techniques, steaming milk, or machine sanitation. More prominent companies such a Starbucks or Coffee Bean may offer more extensive on the job training than smaller coffee shops. Consistency in the quality of their beverages is essential. If you are eager to learn more in-depth techniques, numerous barista programs have popped up due to popularity that allow you to learn everything about the career field. Three popular ones are the International Barista and Coffee Academy, Seattle Barista Academy, and Texas Coffee School. All offer coffee roasting, brewing, equipment maintenance, coffee art, and business operation courses.
Many employers may also look for individual qualities such as good listening, verbal communication, attendance, and organization. Though not required, customer service skills can be a plus as well. A Barista works closely with customers, so you need have to have the ability to build rapport, have an outgoing personality, and present in a professional manner. You also need to be able to prioritize, problem-solve, and multi-task in a fast-paced environment. You may encounter mixed up orders, machine problems, or unhappy customers, so you have to be able to work well under pressure. Also, multi-tasking is essential; you will be taking orders, preparing hot beverages, decorating drinks, and serving them-some coffee shops even serve food.
Advancing to management may require some additional schooling, some attend college or take classes to gain more knowledge or credentials. This may allow you to open your own coffee shops or acquire advanced roles within the coffee industry. More than often, specialized culinary programs, business degrees, or coffee education programs, as mentioned above, are sought after.
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Job Description of a Barista
Baristas have a variety of duties to include the preparation of drinks and providing quality customer service. They take orders, greet customers, and complete transactions using registers. They may also keep an inventory of pastries and price items sold in the store. Furthermore, many coffee shops have regulars that baristas often build a rapport with and even remember their drinks.
Baristas prepare both cold and hot beverages using a variety of machines. Machines include blenders, grinders, commercial coffee machines, and steamers. They steam milk, measure ingredients, and grind coffee or espresso beans. In addition, many coffee shops offer small meals or pastries. Therefore, you may be required to food prep, use a toaster, or convection oven.
Coffee shops are popular and can get very busy. You must be able to work well under stress and have the ability to multi-task. There is often time throughout the day when you may be running the register and preparing drinks simultaneously. Baristas are on their feet for long periods and work around hot machines most of the day. Therefore one must have good stamina and physical abilities. A barista can be required to work any day of the week, and times can vary. Many work part-time, but a few have secured full-time jobs as a barista. Some related careers can include Bartenders, Food Preparation or Serving Workers, Counter Attendants, Waiter and Waitress, and Food Servers.
Free Teacher and Student Resources
- Teachers: The Journey of a Coffee Bean: Teaching About Fair Trade is an elementary student-level lesson plan made freely available by Algonquin College.
- For anyone interested in how seeds turn to coffee, the National Coffee Association offers the webpage 10 Steps from Seed to Coffee.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop.
National Center for O*NET Development. 35-3022.01. O*NET OnLine.