Interview

17 Barista Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a barista, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

When you go to a popular coffee shop, you’ll quickly notice barista jobs involve far more than pouring coffee for customers. With the steam of the milk, the sound of the espresso machine, and the way the barista tops off your coffee in an intricate pattern that floats above the foam while sometimes juggling two to three orders at once, he looks like an artist or orchestra conductor at work.

Excited to start creating your own coffee art? Before you start your new job, you might be invited to an interview. Barista interview questions will focus on your technical skills as well as knowledge of different types of coffee beans, where they come from, and how they’re harvested. Some café interview questions will be about whether you went to coffee training school or if you learned to operate coffee-making machines on the job. Coffee shop interview questions will also center around your customer service skills.

Want your interview to be a success? Pour over the sample answers to these six barista interview questions.

What made you want to become a barista?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your passion for the job. They want to know what inspired you to become a barista and why you enjoy working in coffee shops. When answering this question, think of the reasons that led you to pursue this career path. Consider mentioning any experiences or events that helped shape your decision to work as a barista.

Example: “Ever since I was young, I’ve loved drinking coffee. My parents would take me to our local coffee shop every weekend where I learned how to make different types of coffee drinks. After high school, I enrolled in a vocational program at my local community college where I learned all about making specialty coffees. This experience made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career as a barista, so I decided to enroll in their barista certification program.”

What are your favorite coffee drinks to make?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience and skill as a barista. It also helps them understand what you enjoy making, which can be an indicator of how passionate you are about coffee. When answering this question, try to include some details about why you like these drinks and any unique or interesting ingredients that you use.

Example: “My favorite drink to make is a caramel macchiato. I love the combination of sweet and bitter flavors in this drink, and I think it’s really fun to add different toppings to customize each one. For example, I’ll top off a caramel macchiato with whipped cream and cinnamon for a fall flavor or coconut flakes and chocolate syrup for a summertime treat.”

What do you think is the most important skill for a barista to have?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have the skills and abilities necessary for this role. You can answer by listing a skill, explaining what it means to you and giving an example of how you use it in your work.

Example: “The most important skill for a barista to have is customer service. This job requires us to interact with customers all day long, so we need to be friendly and helpful at all times. I think it’s also important to have strong communication skills because we often need to relay information to other employees or managers. In my last position, I had to tell a manager about a customer who wanted to speak with them about their order. I was able to clearly explain the situation and help the manager understand.”

How would you handle a customer who was unhappy with their drink?

Baristas often interact with customers who are unhappy about something. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the interpersonal skills needed to handle these situations well. In your answer, show that you can be empathetic and use problem-solving skills to try to fix the situation.

Example: “I would first apologize for their experience. Then I would find out what they wanted instead of the drink they ordered. If it was something we could easily remake, I would remake it for them right away. If it was something we couldn’t remake, I would offer a discount on their next order or give them a gift card. I want to make sure that every customer leaves happy.”

What do you like about working in the coffee industry?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your passion for the job. They want to know what you like about working in a coffee shop and how it relates to the position you’re interviewing for. When answering, think of two or three things that make you excited to work as a barista. Consider mentioning something specific about the company you’re interviewing with if there is something unique about their business.

Example: “I love working in the coffee industry because I get to meet so many different people every day. I enjoy learning about new customers and getting to know them better over a cup of coffee. Working here would be even more exciting because I’ve heard that you have some of the best specialty drinks in town.”

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in coffee brewing?

Baristas need to be knowledgeable about the latest trends in coffee brewing. Employers ask this question to see if you are passionate about your work and how you learn new things. Show them that you have a passion for coffee by sharing what you enjoy most about it. Then, share one or two ways you stay up-to-date on the latest news in the industry.

Example: “I love learning about different types of coffee beans and roasts. I subscribe to several blogs and newsletters that offer tips and tricks for making delicious coffee drinks. I also attend barista competitions where I can learn from some of the best baristas in the country.”

What are your thoughts on using high-quality ingredients in coffee drinks?

Baristas often have the opportunity to use high-quality ingredients in their coffee drinks. This question helps employers understand your thoughts on this subject and how you would implement it into your work as a barista. In your answer, explain that you believe using quality ingredients is important because it can help customers enjoy their experience more. You can also mention any specific examples of when you used high-quality ingredients in past jobs.

Example: “I think using high-quality ingredients is very important for creating an enjoyable customer experience. I always make sure to use fresh milk and seasonal fruits or vegetables in my specialty coffees. For example, at my last job, we had a special where customers could get a free cup of coffee if they brought in some homegrown produce. We made a cold brew with those ingredients, and it was one of our most popular specials.”

How do you think coffee shops can become more community-oriented?

Coffee shops are often a place where people can meet and socialize. Employers may ask this question to see if you have any ideas for how they can make their coffee shop more community-oriented. In your answer, share some ways that you’ve seen coffee shops do this in the past. Think about what made these events successful and how you could implement them at other coffee shops.

Example: “I think one way coffee shops can become more community-oriented is by hosting regular events. I worked at a coffee shop that hosted an open mic night once a week. It was always packed because it was such a unique event. We also had a trivia night every month. These events were so popular that we started selling out of food and drinks. I would definitely recommend starting up similar events at other coffee shops.”

What do you think is the most challenging part of being a barista?

This question can help interviewers understand what you think about the role and how you approach challenges. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a specific challenge that you have overcome in your previous roles as a barista.

Example: “The most challenging part of being a barista is when customers are upset with their coffee or espresso drinks. I always make sure to listen carefully to any concerns they may have and try my best to resolve them. In one instance, a customer was unhappy with her latte because she said there wasn’t enough foam on top. I explained that we were out of milk for our foamer but offered her a discount on her next drink. She ended up ordering another latte and seemed happy with it.”

How do you stay calm under pressure when serving multiple customers at once?

Baristas often work in high-pressure environments, so employers ask this question to make sure you have the skills and experience needed to succeed in their role. When answering this question, think about a time when you had to multitask or serve multiple customers at once. Explain how you handled it and what strategies helped you stay calm and focused.

Example: “When I worked as a barista at my college’s coffee shop, we were always busy during finals week. During those times, I would try to focus on one customer at a time. If someone ordered something complicated, I would write down all of the steps so that I could remember them while making the drink. This strategy really helped me manage stress levels and ensure each customer got exactly what they wanted.”

What are some of your favorite customer service tips?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and see how your personality fits with their company. You can answer this question by sharing a few tips that have helped you provide excellent customer service in the past, such as:

“I always make sure to greet customers when they come into the shop. It’s important to me that everyone feels welcome and comfortable while they’re here. I also try to remember what my regulars like so I can offer them personalized service.”

“I find it helpful to learn about each of my customers’ favorite drinks or snacks so I can recommend something new if they haven’t tried it before. This helps build rapport and makes customers feel more at home.”

What are your long-term career goals as a barista?

Employers ask this question to see if you have a plan for your career. They want to know that you are committed to the position and understand how it fits into your future plans. When answering, make sure to mention what skills you hope to develop as a barista. This shows that you value the role and want to grow in it.

Example: “My long-term goal is to become a manager at a coffee shop. I love working with customers and making them happy. I think I would be great at managing employees because of my experience here. I am also very organized and detail-oriented, which helps me keep track of orders and customer information.”

Do you have any questions for me about the position?

Employers often ask this question to see if you have done your research on the company and position. Before your interview, make a list of questions that show you are interested in the job. When answering this question, try asking about the responsibilities of the role or what it’s like working for the company.

Example: “I was really excited when I saw this position because I’ve always wanted to work at this coffee shop. I noticed that you offer free drinks to employees every Friday, which is something I would love to take advantage of. Also, I noticed that there are opportunities for advancement within the company. I’m very motivated by career growth, so I’d love to learn more about those opportunities.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of customer service?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you understand what good customer service looks like. Use your answer to highlight a specific skill or quality and explain how it helps you provide excellent customer service.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of customer service is being able to listen to customers. When I’m working with someone, I always make sure to actively listen to them so I can respond appropriately. For example, if someone tells me they want their coffee black, I’ll ask them if they would like any flavorings in it. This shows them that I am listening to them and actively trying to help them get exactly what they want.”

What are your thoughts on upselling coffee products to customers?

Upselling is a common practice in the barista industry. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand how upselling works and whether or not you’re comfortable doing it. In your answer, explain that you would only upsell if you genuinely believe the customer will enjoy the product.

Example: “I think it’s important to be honest with customers when upselling. If I don’t think they’ll like something, I won’t try to convince them to buy it. However, I do think it’s my job to offer additional products to customers who are looking for more options. For example, if someone orders a latte but doesn’t add any extras, I might suggest one of our flavored syrups. This way, they can still get exactly what they want while also trying out a new flavor.”

How do you think coffee shops can become more inviting for customers?

Coffee shops are often competing with other businesses for customers. Employers want to know that you can help their business stand out from the competition and attract more customers. In your answer, share a few ways you think coffee shops can improve customer experience. Consider mentioning specific ideas you have implemented in previous jobs or how you would implement them if given the opportunity.

Example: “I think one way coffee shops could become more inviting is by offering free Wi-Fi. Customers often come into coffee shops looking for a place to work on their laptops or phones. Offering free Wi-Fi gives them an incentive to stay longer and spend more money. I also think it’s important to make sure there are plenty of outlets available so people don’t have to fight over who gets to charge their devices.”

Do you have any suggestions for new drinks that we could offer at our coffee shop?

Baristas often have creative minds and are always looking for new ways to make coffee more interesting. Employers ask this question to see if you can come up with unique ideas that will help their business grow. In your answer, share two or three drinks that you would like to add to the menu. Explain why you chose these particular drinks and how they could benefit customers.

Example: “I think it’s important to offer seasonal coffees as well as some unique beverages that people haven’t tried before. One drink I would love to see on your menu is a pumpkin spice latte. This time of year is perfect for this type of drink, and I know many customers would enjoy something different from the typical espresso-based beverage. Another idea I have is a matcha green tea latte. Green tea has become very popular in recent years, so I think adding this option to your menu would be beneficial.”

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