There’s no denying how much hard work goes into being a barista. The countless hours on foot, memorizing drink recipes, and dealing with an eclectic crowd of customers daily. In fact, like other jobs of the sort, like bartending and retail, it is one of the most overlooked and undervalued jobs out there. It can be quite difficult working as a barista, which is why I’m here to give you tips on what skills you need to be a successful barista, and how to improve these skills.
The skills you need to be a barista are:
Treat every customer as a friend.
Work with confidence.
Become friendly with coworkers.
Pick the perfect shoes.
Show up early and take on extra shifts.
Practice making drinks at home.
When there’s free time, clean and restock.
Put your phone in silent.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Look good on the job.
Try the food and drinks yourself.
Keep an eye out for trends.
Don’t be afraid to make suggestions.
Have a system.
Keep a goal in mind.
Within this article, you will be given my top and sweet 16 tips on how to become the best barista you can be. Tips will range from how to come into work with a great attitude to things you can do to impress your employer.
- Treat every customer as a friend. Customers can always be hard to deal with, but that shouldn’t discourage you from having a smile on your face and treating everyone with respect. Even if a rude customer walks your way, treat them as you would treat a friend. Not only will this go a long way for your tip jar, but this sort of attitude can bring light to a customer’s day. Plus, studies show that even a forced smile can improve someone’s attitude over time within the day, so don’t forget to show off your pearly whites!
- Work with confidence. Working can be overwhelming and it’s easy to feel discouraged and not good enough. However, attitude is important and so don’t forget the phrase fake it ’til you make it. Not only will working with confidence help you mentally, but it will also come across to your boss, co-workers, and customers.
- Become friendly with coworkers. It is important to develop some sort of positive relationship with your coworkers. Not only will this lead to a better work environment, but this will also help you when you need someone to cover a shift or help you behind the counter. The same goes for your boss.
- Pick the perfect shoes. Working as a barista means constantly being on your feet. This is why footwear is extremely important. Be sure to pick out work shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable. Don’t worry about how they look if you don’t have to, nobody will even see them if you’re working behind a counter. Comfortable feet equals a better attitude and more energy.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during your shift. This will help boost your energy and allow you to feel your best. I recommend drinking lots of cold water with lemon to get the extra kick.
- Show up early and take on extra shifts. If you’re not 10 minutes early, then you’re 10 minutes late. Showing up early to work shows commitment and a strong work ethic. Also, make sure to take on extra shifts when a coworker is in need. Not only will this also show your commitment and work ethic, but this will help you out when you need someone to fill in for you during a sick day or a holiday.
- Practice making drinks at home. If possible, practice making drinks you serve at the cafe at home. Not only will this help improve your performance, but you will also have something tasty to sip on afterward. If you don’t have the means to do so, try looking up videos to help.
- When there’s free time, clean and restock. This is usually a rule in cafes and restaurants, but make sure you go into a job already knowing that if there’s a lull in the workday, utilize that time to clean the space and restock on supplies. Not only will this make it easier for the customers and yourself when it gets busy again, but this will make your boss happy.
- Put your phone in silent. It’s very easy to get distracted, especially when it comes to the phone, so make sure you put your phone on silent mode and in your back pocket. You should always be busy at work anyways, whether you’re taking an order or restocking on napkins, so you shouldn’t be checking your phone unless you’re on break.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know how to make something or if you can modify a drink, don’t be afraid to ask someone you work with. It’s better to ask for help than to assume. This won’t show weakness but strength and will allow you to grow and become a better employee.
- Look good on the job. This doesn’t mean you have to wear the latest trends or perfect your makeup, this just means make sure you come to work in clean clothes and brushed hair. Looking put together on the job goes a long way.
- Try the food and drinks yourself. If you can, be sure to try what you serve! This will give you a taste (literally) of what you are serving customers. Plus, if a customer comes in and asks for your recommendation, this will give you something to go off by.
- Keep an eye out for trends. Concerning tip number 12, keep an eye out for trends. Pay attention to what customers are ordering and enjoying. This will give you an idea of what sells the best and during what times. This will also help when a customer asks for your recommendation.
- Don’t be afraid to make suggestions. Once you’ve worked quite a bit at your job and you’re starting to feel comfortable, try to make some suggestions to your employer. Whether it is trying out a new drink or coming up with an idea for a holiday special, this can allow you to stand out. You never know, an idea or two may just come alive and you will only have yourself to thank.
- Have a system. Having some sort of system in place will allow you to work quickly and efficiently. This may take some time to set up, but it will pay off nicely. Perhaps look towards your coworkers for ideas and see how they handle their orders and preparation.
- Keep a goal in mind. Having a goal in mind leads to a more driven attitude when it comes to working. Perhaps it’s a vacation you’ve always wanted to go on or a new pair of shoes. Keep that goal in mind during work and not only will this help you work harder, but the payoff will be amazing!
How much should you pay your barista? Find out HERE.
There you have it! Several tips on how to be a successful barista. It’s not an easy job, but it can be rewarding and fun if you allow it to be. Don’t expect yourself to master these tips instantly, it takes time and dedication. All you can do is try your best and learn from your mistakes. Perhaps try to ask yourself what is achievable for you right now and then try out some tips that may be out of your comfort zone as well. These tips have helped me so much and I hope these tips help all my fellow baristas out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Try one or two you feel comfortable trying out. Then, over time, as you see your work performance improve, so will your confidence. Then, once enough time has passed, try adding two more tips to follow, and make sure one of them is something that takes you out of your comfort. It is important to try new things — you will surprise yourself!
Try to relax a bit and rejuvenate yourself. Try eating something and allow yourself to enjoy the food – this will give you the energy boost you will need to finish your shift. Also, I suggest only checking your phone once or twice. Don’t let yourself become too distracted with what’s going on in social media because this can lead you to become distracted. Instead, try listening to a short podcast or read a few pages of a book to keep the mind going.
Like I said in the article, it’s always important to show up to work early. However, you cannot control everything, like traffic. If you’re running late, making sure you reach out to not only your boss but your coworker as well. Apologize and explain shortly why you’re running late. Don’t over-explain or make up more excuses, keep it simple or else it’ll sound too anxious. However, try to always leave your house early and always count on traffic time. This way, you’ll hardly ever be late.
It’s important to keep your calm and help them out. Don’t grow impatient with them. Instead, feel free to give them suggestions and allow them to feel comfortable and welcome. Afterward, apologize to the next customer for the wait and go on with your day. A bad attitude will not only sabotage a tip but will probably cause your place of work to lose a customer.
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!