How to Become a Barista

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A barista is a person who prepares specialized coffee beverages. Baristas are often employed by coffeehouse chains such as Starbucks, but may also work in local coffee bars or in restaurants that serve coffee and tea beverages. Many people are drawn to becoming a barista because the job does not require higher education. However, being a barista does require that individuals develop certain qualities and that they receive extensive on-the-job training.


Flickr: adactio
Education High school diploma
Starting pay $15,846[1]
Median pay $18,810[1]
10 yr growth Up to 26 percent[2]
Related professions Chef, Caterer
Author Selena Robinson

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Barista Job Overview

The word "barista" stems from the Italian translation for the word "bartender". Baristas tend coffee bars and prepare coffee drinks and teas for customers. They also work cash registers and drive-through windows. Depending upon the coffeehouse, some baristas may also be required to wait tables or clean tables after customers leave.

Working as a barista can be a demanding job, since these workers often have to handle long shifts or come in to open the coffeehouse early. Customers may be very particular about their beverages, which means that the barista must show patience and understanding. A barista needs to possess good customer service skills to keep customers happy and encourage more visitors.[3]

Barista Education

A person who wants to become a barista does not need to pursue higher education. Most coffeehouses only require that their workers have a high school diploma. Some coffeehouses may also allow high school students to work as long as they are currently enrolled in school and meet the minimum legal age requirement for work.[4]

One of the key requirements for being a successful barista is learning how to create the specific drink that a customer requests. This often means learning about the different varieties of coffee and how to prepare them.[5] At Starbucks, for example, customers have the option to choose from skim, soy, 2%, or whole milk in their beverages.[6] They often refer to these options in an abbreviated, slang term such as "non-fat", or "whole". Baristas must learn what these terms mean and commit them to memory so that they can quickly understand the order and prepare it correctly.

Barista Training

Baristas typically learn their trade through on-the-job training. Along with learning how to prepare customer orders, baristas must learn how to use an espresso machine and how to brew teas properly. Since industrial espresso machines work differently than home models, baristas who already have some knowledge of how to prepare coffee may still need to learn these basic skills after getting the job.

Since some coffeehouses also serve pastries and meals, baristas may have to learn how to cook in a restaurant environment. This may involve learning how to operate a restaurant oven, how to correctly arrange dishes in a display case, and how to use an industrial-sized dishwasher.[3]

How to Make a Cappuccino

How to make a Cappuccino

Also See: How to Become a Bank Teller, How to Become a Chef, How to Become a Caterer


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