Career Development

Barista Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

The barista is a member of the team that works in a coffeehouse and is responsible for serving coffee, tea, and other hot and cold beverages.

The barista is a member of the team that works in a coffeehouse and is responsible for serving coffee, tea, and other hot and cold beverages.

The barista may also be responsible for preparing espresso-based and other specialty coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos and lattes, and other non-alcoholic beverages, such as smoothies, iced tea, and juice.

A barista must be familiar with the menu of the coffeehouse and be able to make recommendations to customers.

Barista Job Duties

Baristas are responsible for a wide range of duties:

  • Preparing and serving coffee, espresso, tea, and other beverages.
  • Maintaining cleanliness of the coffee shop.
  • Welcoming customers and greeting them with a smile.
  • Providing friendly customer service.
  • Answering questions about menu items or making recommendations to customers.
  • Selling food items such as sandwiches, salads, pastries, and more.
  • Managing cash register transactions by taking orders, ringing up purchases, accepting payment from customers in cash or by credit card, and providing change when necessary.

Barista Salary & Outlook

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the median hourly wage for baristas is $11.63. This equates to roughly $24,000 per year.

Overall, the food and beverage serving industry is a stable and profitable industry to work in. The number of jobs will continue to grow, especially in the food-service industry. The fast-paced environment and the demanding nature of the job will keep turnover high, and wages will continue to rise to compete with other industries.

Barista Job Requirements

The requirements for baristas are as follows:

Education: Baristas typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Experience: Baristas typically work their way up through the ranks, starting out with small tasks and eventually learning how to operate all aspects of the business. They often start out working part-time during school breaks or after school. Many managers also begin in entry-level positions.

Training: The owner or manager usually trains new employees. Employees are trained to make specialty coffee drinks, clean equipment, keep inventory, stock supplies, wash dishes, maintain quality control, prepare food items, interact with customers, take orders, use computers, etc.

Barista Skills

The following skills are required for this job:

Interpersonal skills: Baristas need to be able to work well with a variety of people, from customers to coworkers.

Bilingual skills: Many baristas speak multiple languages, especially if they work in a big city.

Computer skills: Baristas must be able to use POS systems and other computer programs that allow them to track orders and prepare drinks.

Customer service skills: Baristas must be able to provide excellent customer service in order to keep customers coming back.

Physical stamina: Working as a barista can be physically demanding, especially when you’re working long shifts or during busy times.

The ability to multitask: Baristas often have several things going on at once, such as preparing drinks, ringing up orders, and cleaning tables. They also need the ability to switch gears quickly when something unexpected happens, like an equipment malfunction or an unruly customer.

Barista Work Environment

Baristas may work in restaurants, coffee shops, and other food service establishments. Like many service industry jobs, working as a barista can be mentally demanding, with high levels of stress due to the fast-paced environment. The job is physically demanding as well, as baristas must lift and carry heavy trays of drinks, and spend much of the day on their feet.

Barista Career Advancement

Baristas can advance to shift supervisor or shift manager roles. These roles are responsible for hiring and firing employees, scheduling, and making sure that their shift is running efficiently. Baristas who are considering advancement should take classes on how to manage people, as shift management is very different than serving customers.

Barista Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Baristas work. Baristas will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increasing Importance of Creativity

As coffee shops continue to serve as hubs for creatives, baristas are increasingly expected to show their own creativity in order to meet the needs of customers who want their drinks customized.

For example, a recent survey found that the majority of customers (68%) said they want extra care and attention from baristas when ordering their drinks—suggesting that baristas will need to use creativity in order to meet these customer demands.

New Age Beverages

The trend of consumers choosing to drink more health-conscious beverages, such as cold-pressed juices and non-dairy milk, has led to the emergence of new beverage trends in cafes.

However, this demand for healthier options is also pushing cafes to expand their offerings to include other items such as organic tea and raw vegan foods. These changes have created a need for baristas who are educated about these alternative products and can recommend the best menu options for each customer.

New Equipment, New Techniques

Coffee-brewing technology has changed drastically in recent years. For example, the introduction of the Clover machine brought an entirely new way to brew coffee that was better than traditional drip machines.

This trend is likely to continue as baristas look for new ways to stand out from their competitors and deliver a truly memorable experience to customers—the idea being that this will lead to greater profits over time.

How to Become a Barista

1. Planning Your Career Path

The barista profession is a popular entry-level job for many young adults, but it is important to understand that this job requires a strong level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Baristas are often responsible for preparing coffee, tea, and other drinks; providing recommendations; and handling customer payments. In many cases, baristas are also expected to be friendly and upbeat when interacting with customers, as this is part of the customer service experience.

2. Writing a Resume

As a barista, you will need to emphasize your customer service skills. These are essential to any barista position, so be sure to list them prominently on your resume. In addition to the customer service skills you already have, it’s also important that you emphasize any food preparation or management skills that may be applicable.

3. Applying for Jobs

It’s good to be proactive when looking for a job as a barista. Check out job boards and local cafes to see if they’re hiring. You can also go on coffee-specific job boards to find jobs in your area. And don’t forget to make connections — ask your friends and family if they know of any jobs in your area.

4. Ace the Interview

Be prepared to discuss the different kinds of beverages you are able to make and what beverages you have made in the past. The interviewer will also ask if you have experience making drinks, so be sure to research how each drink is made and practice before your interview. 

When answering questions, try not to sound too nervous or apologetic — stay confident and make eye contact with your interviewer! Remember that baristas need quick reflexes as well as good people skills. If a customer asks for a coffee or espresso drink with an unusual ingredient, it is important that you know how to handle such requests. Also, be aware of sanitation procedures: you will be expected to clean up after yourself at all times so make sure you know how best to do this while keeping customers happy.


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