- Baristas do more than just serve coffee: They have many roles to fill, including maintaining equipment, serving food, and providing customer service.
- A barista doesn’t have to have experience to be a good employee, but experience in any form of the food and beverage industry helps.
- When hiring, look for a combination of experience, appreciation of coffee or other beverages, and a positive personality.
A barista is to a coffee shop as a bartender is to a bar. They’re the main conduit through which a coffee shop makes money and customers get what they order.
Knowing just who to choose when hiring, however, can be complicated. Since there are tens of thousands of coffee shops nationwide, there’s a high nationwide demand for baristas, especially in coffee-enamored cities. Narrowing down the field and finding the right person is the hard part.
Follow along as we cover what employers should look for when searching for the perfect coffee slinger, plus a sample barista job description.
Education and Background
Baristas don’t usually need any formal education to do their jobs, though some employers ask their employees to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some baristas may take optional courses to improve their skills, which employers can consider a plus to a potential hire. In general, most training happens on the job and can be tailored to the requirements of the specific establishment.
Some states require food handling certifications. Check your state’s laws to verify what’s necessary in your area.
Previous experience working in coffee shops certainly helps a potential employee demonstrate their capabilities. Experience working in restaurants or bars can also transfer to coffee shops, especially in terms of food handling, hygiene, and sanitation.
Skills for Your Barista Job Description
Customers may assume that a barista’s sole role in the business is to provide them with coffee. While that’s certainly a large part of the job, baristas also need to make and serve food and drinks, maintain equipment and the facilities, and interact with customers and other employees.
A barista job description should emphasize the core role: to prepare drinks for customers. These drinks include many types of coffee, tea, fresh beverages like juices or smoothies, or any other drink on the menu. Typically, the role does not involve serving alcohol, though your establishment might be different.
Knowing how to prepare the drinks on a menu requires some different skills and knowledge. For example:
- Understanding products in menu items, including coffee beans, coffee blends, specialty coffee, tea, and others.
- Knowing how to operate the equipment, like espresso machines, French presses, or blenders.
- Being able to prepare drinks in a timely manner while minimizing waste.
- Serving drinks in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
A good barista will be able to make a wide range of drinks, and may even be able to make “coffee art” with designs in a latte, for example. Coffee art can give a coffee shop operator a leg up on social media since people like to share photos of Instagrammable coffee.
Coffee shops can serve a variety of food, from pre-prepared baked goods purchased elsewhere to food cooked in-house. Although a barista doesn’t need to be a chef, they need to have some idea of food preparation and proper handling in order to fully do their job.
For example, while a barista wouldn’t be expected to make hot dishes in a kitchen they could reasonably be expected to make sandwiches, salads, or other small dishes. Additionally, baristas frequently serve baked items like muffins, cakes, cookies, or bagels. They should know how to follow hygiene and sanitation best practices as well as make sure the food is correctly prepared.
Often, baristas will pre-make food that is put in a display case and sold later. They should be aware of local laws regarding food handling and storage and may need a food handler’s license in some states.
Maintain equipment and facilities
A large part of correctly using coffee shop equipment is maintaining it. Doing so should be part of a barista’s daily routine and can be scheduled for downtime in a shift. Baristas may be expected to maintain:
- Espresso machines and brewing equipment
- Coffee grinders
- Display cases
- Plates and dishes for food
- Other machinery and equipment behind the bar
Additionally, baristas need to keep the coffee shop clean, both behind the bar and in the seating area. A clean coffee shop sends a positive message to customers and prevents negative scrutiny from health and hygiene inspectors. Operators can arrange a cleaning schedule with their staff and may ask baristas to do tasks like mopping, sweeping, and cleaning bathrooms.
Furthermore, baristas should be able to track inventory. For example, if a new order for coffee beans is needed, the barista needs to notify their manager.
Interact with customers
Since a barista will be interacting directly with customers, they need to display good communication skills. In addition to correctly taking customer orders, baristas also need to project a friendly image to customers. Even in rushed times, a barista should be able to share a smile and a warm greeting with customers. Someone who’s a self-described “people person” often makes a good barista.
Baristas should also have enough knowledge of the products available to describe them to customers. An excellent barista needs to be capable of learning the menu backwards and forwards to guide the customer to a suitable choice.
Baristas will also need to be able to handle customer payments, including credit cards. While running credit cards and managing a cash register is a skill that many easily master, a barista needs to be trustworthy enough to handle payments of all kinds.
Interact with other staff
Baristas rarely work alone, so they need to be comfortable working as part of a team. Maintaining good relations with other team members is especially important during busy hours when stress levels and tempers can be high. Baristas need to be able to communicate needs to other staff members as well as respond to them.
For example, during busy hours one staff member may be busy taking customer orders while another is busy making drinks. Each needs to be comfortable with the delegation of responsibilities and able to maintain communication well enough to prevent a breakdown in the system.
Hiring a Barista
Baristas can be trained to make drinks, use and maintain equipment, and serve food. They don’t necessarily need to walk in the door knowing everything there is to know about being a barista. However, when hiring, employers can look for a general appreciation and understanding of coffee, tea, and other drinks served in a coffee shop as a good starting point for a potential employee.
A combination of entry-level knowledge and appreciation combined with the right attitude can make for a reliable hire. However, employers should be on the lookout for employees with experience both as baristas and in the food and beverage industry in general. Employees with more experience generally take less training than those who are new to the industry.
When interviewing a potential barista, probe their experience in the food and beverage field. If they don’t have any, try to discover the depth of their understanding of what they’ll be serving. A potentially competent barista will show knowledge and appreciation of coffee, tea, and other beverages.
Barista job description template
- Legally able to work in the U.S.
- Able to legally handle food/drink as required by state law
- High school diploma/GED preferred
- Good customer service skills, including good listening skills and a friendly demeanor
- Willingness to learn and improve all skills related to work
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
- Previous barista or food and beverage experience preferred
- Welcome customers and introduce them to menu items
- Take customer orders and process payments
- Prepare drinks to order, including coffee, tea, blended drinks, and others as needed
- Prepare and serve food as needed
- Maintain equipment, both behind the bar and in the serving area
- Maintain the cleanliness of the establishment
- Track and report inventory
- Work with other teammates to ensure smooth flow of business
How to Make Your Barista Job Description Stand Out
With the explosion of coffee shops that’s taken place over the last few decades, being a barista is a common occupation these days. Potential job-seekers will browse through dozens if not hundreds of ads during their search. This means yours needs to stand out.
It’s best to keep the job description as concise as possible while detailing what the employee gets in return. Here are some things to consider to make your job posting as attractive as possible:
- Make sure the pay is clearly posted. Many job-seekers will ignore ads with unclear or “based on experience” pay.
- Indicate whether or not tips are common at your business. Food and beverage employees thrive on tips.
- Denote some perks that the employee could reasonably expect. Things like “free coffee each shift” or “snacks available” can go a long way towards motivating employees.
- Describe what sets your business apart from other coffee shops or businesses similar to yours.
- Clearly indicate the hours available. Some baristas prefer to work part-time, while others seek full-time work.
- Make yourself readily contactable by providing either an email or a phone number you use often.
Get Prepared With Pared
Just like a coffee connoisseur can’t function without their cup of joe, a coffee shop just doesn’t run without its baristas. Exceptional staff make for an exceptional business, but finding and keeping top notch staff can be a challenge.
Enter Pared. The Pared app is designed to help food and beverage businesses operate at peak performance. If you can’t find an employee, or if you’ve had one quit or call in sick, your business still needs to run. Pared makes sourcing staff a breeze.
When you use the Pared app you can staff the position you need, from barista to chef and everything in between. Our vetted Pros are ready to go and work with you in as little as two hours. Find out what it’s like to never worry about staffing again.