The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Barista

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You may have visited a coffee shop and been wowed at the beautifully made artistic coffees presented to you – and wondered whether you could acquire the skills to whip up a delicious latte or a magical mocha. Making coffees is a hobby and an art and there’s so much to learn – grinding and roasting beans, steaming milk and latte art.

TThere are both pros and cons to this job – it is fast paced, busy and can be tiring working long hours on your feet – but you are never short of coffee to keep you going!

Read the guide below to find out how you can land your dream job.

What is a Barista ?

You hear the word all the time, so what actually is a barista?

The word barista originates from an Italian word meaning a “bartender” who serves beverages including espresso-based drinks. Baristas are known today for serving many different types of hot and cold drinks and being very creative whilst doing so, making designs using steamed milk – also known as latte art.

  • Job Description

    In short, this is what a barista gets up to

    A barista usually works in a coffee shop or café and prepares and serves different types of coffees from espressos to lattes, mochas to cappuccinos. A baristas main job role is to take customer orders, prepare and serve coffees, teas, light food and snacks.

    During busy periods, experienced baristas will be making coffees, whilst less experienced staff will be responsible for taking orders and cleaning tables.

  • Hours of Work

    Barista’s are usually required to work early mornings to accommodate the morning rush of people on their way to work. A typical shift is 6-8 hours, depending on the café opening times, however shifts can be longer (up to 10 hours) and a lot of that time you will be on your feet. You will be required to work weekends, as they tend to be busier.

  • Primary Duties

    What are the main duties? Here’s a list of tasks you will be expected to do:

    • Greeting customers
    • Taking orders
    • Answering customer questions
    • Cleaning equipment and the work area
    • Making different types of coffees and hot and cold drinks including frappuccino’s and fruit smoothies
    • Grinding coffee beans
    • Preparing and serving light food and snacks
    • Creating stock displays
    • Keeping track of all stock and ordering more when needed
    • Upselling products

Key Barista Qualifications

What qualifications do you need to land yourself a barista job?

It may be useful to have GCSE’s grades 9-4 (A*-C) or equivalent in English and Maths.

  • It is not essential, but it may be beneficial to have a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in hospitality and catering or a similar field. An NVQ is a work-based qualification, which recognises the skills and knowledge someone needs to do a job.

  • You can also work towards a Level 2 award in Barista Skills, which will help you to learn develop and practice before applying for a job.

  • You could get into this job through an apprenticeship – such as Barista Mastery and Customer Service. An apprenticeship typically lasts 12 months and includes additional learning outside of the workplace. After completing an apprenticeship you will have both experience and a qualification, which gives you a great advantage. You could even progress onto higher-level apprenticeships, or build your career and work your way to a supervisor role.

  • If you have previous experience of working in Customer service or catering, this will be a big plus on your CV.

Vital Barista Skills

Do you have what it takes?

There is a lot more to becoming a barista than meets the eye. You will need to acquire more skills than just turning on a coffee machine and handing the cup to the customer.

First of all, you will need to have top-notch customer service skills. Other skills you will need are:

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to work in a fast paced environment
  • Ability to work under pressure
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On the job training may include:

  • Adding foam and texture to milk
  • Knowledge of sourcing, roasting, milk temperatures and various brewing methods
  • How to create drinks based on specific customer preferences
  • Knowledge of health and safety in the food and beverage industry
  • Latte art
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What is a Barista’s salary?

Your salary will depend on the coffee shop that you work for, and its location. As a trainee, you will most likely be paid minimum wage by the hour.

On average, the hourly rate for a barista is between £6 and £9. The salary can range from £8,000 - £15,000, an experienced barista can earn up to £17,000, and a highly experienced barista in a high-end restaurant or hotel can earn £20,000.

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How to develop your Barista career

You’ve got the job, now how can you progress?

There is always room for progression if you work hard and put in the effort. Over time, and once you have gained experience; there may be opportunities for you to be trained to become a supervisor or a store manager. There really is no stopping you if you put in the work.

Career Opportunities

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