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What Is a Barista and How to Become One

What Is a Barista?

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “barista” originated in Italy as a name for someone who is a trained mixologist in both alcohol and coffee-based drinks. These days in the U.S., a barista typically refers to the person behind the counter at a coffee shop who takes orders and prepares and serves different types of beverages to customers. Beyond serving coffee and processing customer payments, baristas may also interact with customers, answering questions and helping them choose coffee beverages. Behind the counter, baristas are responsible for maintaining equipment, keeping work areas clean, and ensuring inventory is stocked.

How Can I Become a Barista?

The requirements for a barista position can vary depending on the workplace. A high-end coffee shop will likely want a more advanced and trained employee, while an informal coffee chain may hire entry-level candidates. In many cases, you can start by applying for any role in a coffee shop. Being in the environment can help you get comfortable and learn the processes so you can work your way into a barista position. If you want to get a great deal of training before starting, there are numerous barista certification programs available. Ultimately, on-the-job training may serve you best, as each store has its own system, culture, and vibe.

What Skills Should a Barista Have?

Baristas need to be detail-oriented and able to maintain accuracy while multitasking in a fast-paced environment. Coffee shops can get busy, especially during the early morning hours, so it is essential to have good customer service skills while also being efficient. The ability to follow directions is also important to be successful. As a barista, it is encouraged to be social and create relationships with regular customers--try to remember names and orders, as this is a skill that is useful for any career.

Barista Job Description Sample

With this Barista job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Barista role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a friendly barista to join our team. In this position, you will prepare and serve specialty coffee beverages and food to patrons. Our baristas are also in charge of retail sales of coffee accessories, which are also sold in our store. Our baristas are enthusiastic about coffee and maintain a high standard of execution. You should make the customer feel welcome and important at all times. Baristas are also responsible for normal shift side work.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide excellent customer service in a clean and welcoming environment
  • Discuss the drink menu with customers and answer questions
  • Preparation for drinks according to in-house recipes
  • Encourage the sale of our retail coffee accessories
  • Track inventory and place orders
  • Clean and maintain all equipment, and accessing repair needs
  • Follow proper safety and sanitation procedures
  • Expand knowledge and participate in staff education opportunities

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High School diploma
  • Ability to actively listen and verbally communicate with a wide range of people daily
  • Keen awareness of the value of customer service
  • Willingness to work a changing shift schedule, including early mornings
  • Aptitude for learning in on-the-job in a fast-paced environment
  • Previous Barista experience and facility with a wide range of coffee and foodservice terminology