Coffee remains the most popular beverage in the world, with more than 530 billion cups being consumed each year. The popularity of coffee has created a vibrant coffee scene and a strong demand for talented coffee baristas.
Working as a coffee barista can be very exciting, interesting and fulfilling! Coffee shops are typically action-packed locations, and you get to meet a lot of people each day. This article will explain what employers are looking for in a coffee barista to help you land a job in this exciting industry.
What are the responsibilities of a barista?
The primary responsibility of a barista is to make coffee and to serve customers. However, baristas can have a number of other responsibilities including education customers, cleaning the shop, dealing with suppliers and much more. Most baristas perform the following tasks on a daily basis:
- Preparing a variety of hot and cold beverages for customers
- Following specific recipes developed by the coffee shop
- Educating customers on the products that are available
- Developing a strong understanding of coffee regions and the different characteristics of coffees
- Maintaining a clean work environment, paying particularly close attention to coffee making equipment
- Restocking shelves
- Answering customer questions about coffee quality, freshness, coffee blends, and preparation techniques
- Answering the telephone and fielding general customer enquiries
- Reporting safety hazards and accidents to the manager on duty
- Running errands including picking up supplies
Typically, employers are looking for baristas who are passionate about coffee, capable of making delicious beverages, and eager to deliver an excellent level of customer service. A great coffee barista has the following attributes:
- Friendly and capable of developing a rapport with customers — learning their names and favourite drinks. If you are a “people person” you will do well as a barista.
- Able to prepare beverages quickly, while maintaining a high level of quality
- Hard working and with great attention to detail
- Able to prioritise and perform multiple tasks at once
- Well-organised and detail-orientated
- Capable of maintaining a clean workspace
- Great telephone etiquette
- Committed to delivering excellent customer service
- Fit enough to spend most of the work day standing
- Willing to learn and improve
Many baristas have long careers in the industry without ever having achieved a formal qualification in coffee making. However, many employers prefer to employ coffee baristas who have had the appropriate training. It gives them the certainty that their new barista will be able to perform the job correctly from day one.
Some qualifications concentrate on the coffee making part of being a barista, while others are all-encompassing — teaching baristas how to make elaborate latte art, serve meals, and educate consumers about coffee. Some of the most widely respected qualifications include:
The SCAE is a non-profit organisation run by industry professionals and coffee lovers. They have developed a Coffee Diploma System with a range of different qualifications. These qualifications can be obtained from many different educational providers around the world.
Their qualifications are split into six different categories: Introduction to Coffee, Green Coffee, Sensory Skills, Roasting, Brewing, and Barista Skills. Most of these categories have three levels — foundation (for beginners), intermediate (for people interested in becoming a barista), and professional (for experienced baristas). An employer instantly understands a barista has a strong level of knowledge if they hold an intermediate or professional qualification from SCAE.
City and Guilds Barista courses teach students how to maintain coffee machinery, assess the quality of beans, grind coffee beans appropriately, brew coffee, prepare different coffee beverages and much more. They are widely recognized qualifications that most employers are aware of.
City and Guilds Barista Training is available from a number of providers including the Beverage Standards Association (BSA). They offer a variety of professional barista courses including the City & Guilds VRQ in Barista Skills.
The London School of Coffee is one of the providers offering SCAE certifications, including the SCAE Barista Skills, Sensory Skills, and Brewing Skills qualifications. They also offer bespoke coffee preparation courses which run for a day. These additional qualifications can be very impressive to employers.
The IBCA is a coffee academy located in Tempe, AZ and provides coffee education classes from beginner, to intermediate and professional. It is the only coffee course in the USA backed by the SCAE and the SCAE Diploma System and follows the SCAE programs.
The SCAA’s Barista Pathway course is a series of classes devoted to training in espresso and espresso drink preparation. The courses also includes instruction in equipment operation and customer service. The SCAA is endorsed by the Barista Guild of America. A SCAA certification is highly valued by employers who are looking for a barista with specific skill sets.
Most employers look for the following types of work experience when evaluating applicants:
- Experience making coffee using professional espresso machines
- Experience working in the hospitality sector
- Customer service experience
- Experience working in a team
- Experience in demanding and busy work environments
Working as a barista can be very enjoyable, particularly if you love coffee! By obtaining the right experience and qualifications, you will quickly land a position in a coffee shop and begin your career as a barista.
Written by Arik Waiss founder of London based independent coffee warehouse chain Doppio Coffee. Arik has been active in the international coffee industry for 31 years and in that time has succeeded in building strong relationships with global Italian roasters and coffee equipment suppliers. Doppio Coffee currently has three locations in London and is looking to grow.
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