Could You Be a Barista?

So, you want to be a Barista?

You may want to be a Barista for a variety of reasons. You simply need a job to pay the bills. The idea of being a Barista is a “fantasy” job. Or, you truly have a passion for learning all you can about coffee and serving customers. The latter is the preferred reasoning although money helps.

Whatever your reason, there are some things you should know before applying to this position. Over all it’s an amazing job, but it’s not for everyone. Do you have what it takes to be a Barista?

What is a Barista?
A Barista is the Italian name for a bartender who operates an espresso machine at a café’ or coffeehouse.

Summary of Duties
As a Barista, you are the first line of customer service. A barista works the espresso bar and assists customers with their food and beverages. You are responsible for cleaning, stocking and maintaining the bar and store. Depending on the café, you may rotate between the “bar” (barista station) and cash register.

Average Pay: Minimum wage (or more depending on the shop) plus tips.

Tips: Are divided evenly among hourly paid co-workers either at the end of each shift or end of week (this is debatable among cafe and upper management).

Average working hours: 15-32+

Required Skills
Sure you create yummy espresso drinks and drink great coffee, but there’s more to the job than that. These are the top skills I believe you should have as a Barista.

Must like coffee. How can you sell something you don’t enjoy it or know how it tastes? This also helps when tasting espresso shots and making sure your drinks are consistent and up to standards.
Patience. When customers and co-workers have a bad day or explaining something to them.
Positive Attitude. Things happen, it’s how you deal with the situation that makes all the difference.
Friendly & Helpful. Always greet customers, they don’t bite. If they don’t know what to order, make suggestions so they aren’t holding up the line and it’s an excuse to get to know them.
Flexible schedule. You may need to work early mornings, close, on Holidays, or pick up extra shifts.
Reliable. Show your boss they can count on you to show up and take on or handle tasks.
Enthusiastic. Do what you’re asked willingly. It must get done so get it over with the first time.
Great Customer service. Handle customers questions, complaints and comments with genuine concern.
Consistency. Everyone is trained the same to keep the quality of drinks up and keep costs down.
Neat. The cafe is not your home. People visit all day long and the shop must look great throughout the entire day. Yes, you have to do chores, it’s a part of life in work and home. And yes, you have to clean the toilet, mop, and wash dishes. Not necessarily in that order.
Safety & Health. You must follow all safety, health and sanitation guidelines for all products, otherwise you could make someone very sick or worse.
Be Professional. First Impressions determine whether or not a customer returns. When you’re on paid time, be responsible. You are there to do your job and not text or ignore customers. Hate to say it, but you are judged by how you look and act. Dress appropriately and by uniform requirements. You never know who you could be serving. Besides, the more regular customers you have, the better chance for tips and pay raise.

A Day In the Life
Your typical day will vary by shift, how busy it is, time of day and day of the week. Weather can also influence busier or slower days. Mornings are usually crazy busy, in a good way. Around lunch can be steady or slammed depending on food selection. Afternoons are usually really slow. And evenings vary depending how late the shop is open and what all is going on.

Besides the examples I’ve given above, here are the rewarding and not so exciting reasons to be a Barista.


You get to meet new people each day and their is a satisfaction in making customers smile.
Always something to learn
Work with amazing people
Drink wonderful coffee and espresso
Convert new regulars
The regulars make the worst days worth it, for me anyway
Washing dishes is a great stress relief
Repetition makes things faster and more efficient


Stand for hours at a time
People take out their anger on you
Repetition can get boring

Do you have what it take takes?
Am I missing something? Add to my list in the comments.

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Jennifer has been in the coffee industry since 2003. She started Daily Demitasse to educate and share her experience with other passionate coffee enthusiasts, from a Barista, Cafe Manager, shop Owner and freelancer perspective. When she's not working or blogging, you can find her at Transpire Life.

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