There is no right way to become a barista. The truth is that many great baristas arrive at their position or status from a wide array of choices.
You can blaze your own trail as well. Whether you are an experienced coffee veteran or if you are simply exploring what a barista is, you have plenty of options.
Let me say this again: whether you are experienced or not, you have a variety of options waiting at your fingertips when it comes to being a barista. Why? Because if you look around coffee is all around us. People want coffee – and they want coffee served well.
Whether your goal is to own your own coffee shop one day or to help you pay your way through college, being a barista can provide good opportunities to learn and grow.
Learning how to make coffee requires the small – and yet profound decision: to get started. That’s right. Even if you know absolutely nothing about coffee or what being a barista is all about – you can get started today. Right now.
How to be a barista with no experience
We’ve spoken to many coffee shop managers about the subject of hiring those with little or no experience – and they often tell us that they often would prefer barista with little experience because many “experienced” and effective baristas can be more complicated to work with. That’s right. That’s because many baristas have learned – or trained poorly – and in order to serve coffee correctly, many experienced baristas have to often “unlearn” how they have been pulling espresso shots and start over, which can be more difficult to do. Therefore, sometimes having no experience is a blessing.
So what to coffee shop owners really want? What many coffee shop owners want is someone who is:
- Fits in with the culture of the coffee shop
- Willing to adapt
- Looking for ways to save money and make the coffee shop better
But let’s be fair. Many coffee shop managers and espresso stand owners will want someone with at least some experience, right? Well, though it’s preferable, it not necessarily the biggest thing. In fact, having a positive attitude and personality that works for their business can surpass another much more experienced applicant.
Their concern for their baristas making coffee is based on three points:
- Getting the coffee right
- Keeping pace with the demand
- Maintaining a high level of customer service
So, yes to adequately address the above points at a coffee shop it is helpful to have experience in serving coffee as a barista. But it is not completely necessary. If you want to be a barista but you don’t have any experience – consider other areas of the service industry that may also be helpful to your job prospects: experience as a hostess, waiter, cook, fast food manager and retail associate.
If you don’t have any barista experience:
- Learn as much as you can about coffee
- Develop your passion for coffee blends
- Get to know other baristas and coffee managers
- Attend and learn barista “throw downs”
- Attend coffee events that might be in your community
- You may also become a waiter or waitress for a restaurant that serves espresso and learn how to become a barista over time.
Ask yourself the tough questions, starting with:
Are you barista material?
If you’ve visited your local coffee shop and have seen that the baristas there are having lots of fun – you might be thinking, “Hey, I’d like to be a barista! Where do I sign up?!”
Certainly, being a barista can be a lot of fun and provide you an incredible way of making money in nearly every community – but is there any more to the job? The answer is yes! Being a barista requires you to be a professional at customer service as well as understand how to pull espresso shots – all with ability to work well under pressure.
Understanding coffee beans, various roasts, and pulling shots, you will also must be able to create an endless variety of drinks. Finally, providing each customer with great experience is also the job of a barista.
#1: Are you willing to get up early and display a positive and engaging attitude towards customers?
Baristas start their morning early – sometimes getting up as early as 4:00 am. Starting your day at say, 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning – for the morning rush hour, you will certainly need to be on your game – everyday. Perhaps, your job will ask you to be on the evening shift which may be a good option if you are not at your best in the morning. But trust me, you will be asked from time to time to cover a morning shift.
#2: Are you willing to learn a variety of coffee drinks – all the time?
Every customer is different. Every customer will have their favorite drink – and it may be one that you aren’t familiar with. Getting their drinks right – will be an important for you and your customer’s experience. Much of being a barista is experimentation. While coffee snobs might tell you exactly how coffee should be prepared, you need to be prepared to make the drinks that matter to your customers. Sometimes that means bending your idea of what is a good coffee drink, to what your customers value.
#3: Are you a “people’s person”?
Are you outgoing, chatty, and personable? If you don’t like talking or meeting new people, being a barista may not be the job for you to consider. Being a barista – at least in many coffee bars – will mean that you will need to use your social skills every day. If you are not the “social” type, then your job will be taxing on your soul. Don’t apply for the position if you don’t like talking to new people.
Customers come to coffee shops and cafes expecting to chit-chat with their baristas. If you are generally outgoing, chatty, friendly, and likeable – your personality will go a long way as a barista. Anyone can be trained pull shots and serve coffee. On the other hand, having the personality to fit the job is a qualitative quality that every customer loves.
#4: Do you have a flexible schedule?
Being a barista provides you with having a flexible schedule – so, daily schedules built around say, school or another job may be conducive to being a barista – but you will need to also work a variety of shifts. Working with your boss, owner, or manager to find the schedule that works for everyone will be important.
#5: Are you good in fast-paced situations?
As a barista, you will encounter some very busy times. Sometimes the line behind the counter can quickly add up with customers wanting a variety of drinks that can take more time than others. In addition, each customers may also want to order several drinks, so that line can be even “longer” when it comes to actual orders. Staying “cool” and confident under stressful times is necessary.
#6: Are you willing to handle the extra necessary stuff?
Working in coffee retail, you will also may be required to lift boxes of supplies, clean restrooms, take out the trash, sweep, wipe down tables, and do a number of other essential tasks. You might need to clean windows, run to get supplies, stock shelves, and maybe even roast coffee! Are you flexible enough to grow with the business?
#7: Are you able to minimize conflict and satisfy customer needs professionally?
Let’s be frank, some customers can be very difficult. Appropriately engaging with difficult customers in a professional manner that both resolves the issue and maintains a positive environment for other customers is essential. This kind of task may be difficult for some personalities. Consider whether you will be to “handle” such instances as they may arise from time to time.
Your Barista Responsibilities will usually entail several key factors:
- Successfully utilize and maintain an espresso machine and other brewing methods for each customer.
- Preparing a variety of coffee drinks, beverages, and snacks for each customer.
- Have the ability and wise judgment and willingness to make decisions.
- Demonstrate the ability to maintain a positive work environment (this can be through your attitude, leadership, and motivation.)
- Make sure the established policies and operation procedures are being followed.
- You may be asked to mentor, coach, or train other employees.
- You are to successfully ensure each transaction is correct, and monitor sales, labor, and any unnecessary waste.
- Perform all “opening” or “closing” duties.
- Maintain a certain dress code that is established by the business.
- Complete other tasks and projects that have been assigned by a supervisor
- Attend mandatory meetings.
- Positively, and effectively engage with each customer, each co-worker, supervisor, manager, and owner.
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