Baristas are specially trained in preparing and serving speciality coffee, primarily in coffee shops. They are experts in brewing the perfect coffee and are knowledgeable in the different roasts, blends and flavours of coffee.
They are also often masters of latte art, creating intricate patterns and designs like trees, flowers and hearts on the foamy surface of the beverages they prepare.
Duties and responsibilities
- Take customer orders and payments
- Prepare and serve a variety of coffee drinks by following prescribed recipes
- Serve prepared foods, such as sandwiches, pastries and cakes
- Sell coffee and tea blends and brewing equipment
- Weigh, grind or pack coffee beans for customers
- Describe menu items to customers and answer their questions
- Clean and tidy work areas, equipment and coffee machines
- Set up and restock product displays
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, weekends and holidays occasionally
Baristas typically work in coffee shops and cafés, though may find work anywhere that operates a coffee bar, such as in hotels, department stores and country clubs as well as on cruise ships.
Many baristas work on a part-time basis, though full-time employment is also available.
The work can be stressful, especially during peak periods and when dealing with difficult customers. Workplace injuries, such as cuts and burns, aren’t uncommon but are rarely serious. Baristas often wear gloves and aprons to negate such injuries.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
You don’t need any formal education to become a barista. A high school diploma or equivalent is usually sufficient.
You’ll receive on-the-job training, which typically lasts up to three months, during which time you’ll learn about the basics of coffee and how to follow recipes and prepare beverages. Training also covers things like customer service and food-handling procedures.
Independently organised classes and workshops are also available, and could prove useful in your job search and throughout your career as a barista.
With experience, you could advance to a managerial position, where you will oversee the operations of the coffee shop you’re employed at. If you work for a chain, you could progress to a regional manager position.
You could also open your own coffee shop or buy a franchise.