So, you’re interested in becoming a barista.
Perks include any time access to caffeine, job opportunities in almost any location, and a delicious coffee aroma that never seems to fade. How can you go wrong with that?
But wait – you’re an expert at drinking coffee from your favorite local shop — not making it. Luckily, a lack of experience doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passion.
You can become a barista without having any prior experience. There are many resources readily available that will help you gain the knowledge and skills necessary to feel confident in your barista abilities. This guide will include information on where to start, what you will need to learn, and tips for the job search when you’re ready to apply.
Let’s talk about what the journey to landing a barista position could look like for you.
Where to Start
When you have no background in an intended job, hobby, or endeavor, you probably want some guidance on figuring out where to start. If becoming a barista with no experience is your objective, there are a few places you can begin your process.
An important first step is to familiarize yourself with the tasks you may be required to complete while at work. If you want to get hired as a barista, you need to have a strong understanding of what the role entails.
Noting what a barista does during your trips to purchase coffee can be informative, but it’s also important to consider obligations that may go on behind the scenes. Although you may not be ready to apply at this point, reading job postings for barista positions will give you a detailed look at potential responsibilities.
A few common tasks of the barista role involve:
- Creating a friendly and welcoming environment for customers
- Educating customers on menu options
- Using a cash register to process customer payments
- Preparing beverages using required equipment
- Keeping up to date with seasonal items
- Memorizing and practicing drinks
- Maintaining a safe and clean work environment
Another convenient option for gathering information is talking to someone who is or has been a barista. It can be a great benefit to have a friend or family member who is knowledgeable on this topic. Try making a list of your most essential questions and setting aside some dedicated time to discuss them.
No matter which method you choose, it’s essential to learn as much as you can about your intended job to prepare for what comes next. When you feel comfortable with the general barista requirements, you’re ready to keep moving forward in the process!
Learning the Language
Now that you have a clear understanding of what it means to be a barista, it’s time to start learning about your main subject: coffee! If you’ve had no prior experience in this area, you may not know the phrases and terminology that will be prevalent in your future role.
Three main types of coffee-related terms will be beneficial for you to familiarize yourself with before becoming a barista. The categories are:
- Types of coffee beverages
- Coffee characteristics
- Coffee-making equipment
Let’s dive in!
Types of coffee beverages:
Learning about types of coffee beverages is one of the most crucial steps to gaining barista knowledge. Before you can prepare a drink, you will need at least a basic understanding of common coffee requests a barista has to complete.
A few of the most popular drinks include lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and cold brew. If you’re a coffee-lover, you’ve probably ordered one (or more) of these for yourself.
Next up, we have coffee characteristics. This category includes any term that can be used to describe a coffee beverage. For example, you may hear words such as body, aroma, flavor, and acidity.
Understanding these terms can be crucial in multiple scenarios a barista may find themselves in. For example, your boss or coworker could use these terms while communicating with you about how to create or identify a specific beverage. Coffee descriptors can also be important while helping a customer identify exactly what drink they are looking for.
Now we need to figure out how to make the coffee we’ve learned about. What does an AeroPress do, and how do you operate a piston machine?
When researching common coffee shop appliances that you most likely don’t have at home, YouTube can be an excellent resource. Searching for “How to use an espresso machine,” or any other coffee-making machine will produce plenty of valuable material. Keep in mind that not every single piece of equipment will work the same depending on brand and functionality.
A glossary of terms is an extremely useful tool to utilize while familiarizing yourself with relevant coffee lingo. Gaining this knowledge is a great way to become more confident when you are missing prior hands-on experience – not to mention, it can show potential employers that you are dedicated to the barista lifestyle.
More equipment tips HERE.
Practicing Different Drinks
To learn the details of coffee creation, it’s important to practice some of the drinks you’ll be making as a barista. You’ve already educated yourself on the most popular coffee beverages – now it’s time to learn how to build them.
If you have equipment at home, taking orders from friends and family is a fun exercise. You gain experience, and they get coffee!
If you don’t have any equipment at home, you can still practice drink orders. A great method to accomplish this is memorizing recipes. Just like learning about types of equipment, this is another time that watching YouTube videos can be extremely helpful. Doing a quick search on “How to make a cappuccino,” or any other beverage of choice will leave you with tons of useful content.
Finally, using flashcards to quiz yourself (or having someone else quiz you) is a helpful way to study when you don’t have the necessary equipment — or after you’ve used up all the coffee, milk, and creamer in your house.
Once you’ve used these tips to practice crafting coffee like a barista, it’s time for the best part yet.
The Job Search
Congratulations! You’re ready to look for a barista position. You’ve put in the effort to research the role, learn common lingo, and practice memorizing and/or making various coffee beverages. Now it’s time to demonstrate your new knowledge.
While job hunting, look for employers who state that they don’t require previous experience. If an employer says they prefer previous experience but are willing to train the right person, this can be used to your advantage as well. The time that you’ve put into learning about the barista world establishes your passion and can be used to set yourself apart from others throughout the application and interview process.
So, what have you done that shows you’re passionate about becoming a barista?
Did you create flashcards to help learn the terminology? Did you buy a cheap espresso machine so you could practice creating beverages? Maybe you consumed a countless number of articles and videos about your desired role.
These are all talking points that can help show a hiring manager the commitment and enthusiasm that would make you a great team member, regardless of experience.
Before meeting with a hiring manager, a favorable exercise for preparation is practicing interview questions they may ask you. Strengthening your answers to hypothetical questions will make you sound and feel more confident in your interview.
Great job — you’ve done it!
After applying all of these tips, you should feel optimistic about your desire to become a barista without any prior work experience. Between growing your knowledge in the position from right at home, finding employers who are willing to train the right candidate, and brushing up on your interview skills, you’re in good shape to go out and land that job.
Once you’ve secured your barista position, have fun – and get ready to take your coffee knowledge to a whole new level!
Frequently Asked Questions
The schedule of a barista can vary greatly. A full-time barista will work around 40 hours per week, while a part-time barista can work anywhere between 10-30 hours per week. Hours are highly dependent on the needs of the employer, which can differ greatly between different cafés.
Some of the most important qualities of a barista include an ability to work well under pressure, strong attention to detail, and a positive attitude. Coffee shops can become quite busy during peak times, so baristas must remain calm and friendly while still performing accurately and efficiently.
A barista role is a great option for people of all ages. Most coffee shops require that their employees be at least 18, but there can be exceptions to this. Aside from the minimum age requirement, anyone with the right skills and mindset can be a great candidate.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!