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BARISTA – All you need to know to be one!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a barista? What do they do – barista job description? How to train to be one? 

Today, we will discuss everything you need to know about being a barista. 


What is a barista?

A barista is a person, usually an employee at a cafe or a coffee house, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. Lately, the term barista has been used to describe a person who makes tea as well (boba tea, iced tea, herb tea among others). The word barista originated in Italy.

Fun fact: There also is a coffee chain doing business as Barista.

Barista Job Description – What do they do on a day to day basis?

Typical job responsibilities of a barista include: educating customers about the drinks menu, making recommendations based on their preferences, up-selling items, taking orders, preparing drinks, maintaining inventory, and equipment(espresso machines) while keeping the work environment clean and sanitized at all times.

Wondering what’s a day in the life of barista look like? Check it out yourself 🙂(Video Credits – @baristakey – Thank you!)

Most cafes today use point-of-sale systems such as Square, Clover, Toast for payments. Working knowledge of a point-of-sale system will be useful.

What skills do I need to work as a barista?

For a barista, you need to memorize recipes for all the beverages on your menu – latte, cappuccino, mocha, and others.  Some cafes –  for example, the Starbucks at Pike Place Market – will be so busy that you won’t have time for a quick water break, forget asking your colleague about recipes!

Besides that a few other important skills needed on the job: 

  • Communication – Listen and communicate in a friendly yet professional manner with all customers. Focus on customer satisfaction.
  • Adhere to food & beverage safety protocols.
  • Maintain a clean work environment. 
  • Ensure backup of supplies to minimize downtime when serving customers.

How do I find a barista job?

Even today, some of the best coffee shops prefer candidates to apply in person. Walk down your street and keep an eye out for “NOW-HIRING SIGNS”. 

The online job scene for hospitality jobs is growing steadily as well. Check out “barista” jobs on Craigslist, Edizeven, or Indeed and for other restaurant jobs. You can also search for “barista jobs near me” on Google and all relevant jobs will pop up. 

Should I write a cover letter when applying for a Barista job?

Yes. Absolutely, yes! What should I write in it? 

When applying for a job, try to answer the following 3 questions in your cover letter in 5-10 lines – 1) do you have any relevant experience? If yes, from where? 2) why are you interested in working at “THIS” specific cafe, and 3) why “YOU” are the best choice for this job. 

Here is a sample: 

Hello Hiring Manager, 

With over 5 years of Barista experience – the last one at Starbucks – I truly understand what it takes to be a Barista. I frequently visit your Downtown Seattle cafe and love the vibe. It feels high energy – just the kind of place I enjoy working at! In my last job, my customers absolutely loved how I always remembered their to-go drinks and was tipped the highest amongst my colleagues. I love talking to customers while working fast. Just the person you need! 

You can reach me at 123-456-7890, or email me at 

Looking forward to speaking with you soon. 

Thank you, 

Your Name. 

This is just a sample. Make sure you are honest in your message to the restaurant owner. Don’t sell something about yourself which you are not. But DO UPSELL who you are 🙂 

Even if you don’t have any prior experience – be honest – mention that you don’t have experience but still say why you are the best for the job. Make it believable. 

How do I get my first barista job with no prior experience? 

1. Consider chain cafes such as Starbucks or Peet’s 

If you have no prior experience as a Barista, consider chain cafes such as Starbucks, Peet’s, etc. While the environment might be more corporate, they are open to training new employees. All you need is a desire to learn and willing to provide the best customer service. 

2. Start out as a cashier or a busser in your favorite cafe. 

These jobs also require great customer service skills but generally do not require prior work experience. Take time to watch around and learn on the job. Work your way up.

3. Search for barista jobs online which clearly say “no-prior-experience-needed”. 

You will be surprised by the number of cafes who are totally willing to train new people. Be confident, update your resume, wear a great smile, and apply online or in-person. The core skills can be taught, but you just need to bring in the right attitude. 

How much does a barista job pay? 

The base salary for a barista varies a lot by which state you are working in and what’s the minimum wage in your state. In most cases, you will get minimum wage + tips. But tips are a big chunk of barista salary. For example, in WA state, the minimum wage is $13.5. Baristas on average earn $3-$8/hr in tips, making it $16.5-$21.5/hr in total earnings. Per Glassdoor, the industry average is $11/hr + tips. 

Where else can I work having acquired barista skills? 

If you are a pro-barista and looking for a bit of change, consider related roles  – 

  1. Juice/Smoothie Shops such as Jamba Juice, 
  2. BubbleTea Shops such as Sharetea, Boba Guys, Kung Fu Tea
  3. Ice Cream/Shakes Shops like Ben and Jerry’s, Salt ‘n’ Straw. 

While the actual drink you prepare might be different, the customer service skills you learnt as a Barista will continue to help you in these roles. 

Another fun, exciting role to consider is a ‘beertender’. Search for “beertender jobs near you” to find breweries looking to hire great people. Yes, you need to learn about beer but beertending is a lot less complex than bartending where you need to memorize zillions of cocktail recipes. And above all, who doesn’t like beer! 

How many hours do I expect at a barista job? 

Most barista jobs will typically offer 15-25 hours a week – morning/afternoon hours. If you’re a student, you may be able to balance a barista job with school if your school schedule provides you with some flexibility.

What does a barista’s career growth look like? 

Most tenured baristas have two ambitions – either to have their own coffee shop one day or become the best barista showing casing their latte art. People in the 2nd category often participate in various competitions (see next section Latte Art) and constantly hone their skills. 

As a previous barista, you can slowly work up the ladder to become a cafe manager, front of house manager at a restaurant and eventually growing into assistant manager or general manager roles. Most of these management roles will include benefits such as health insurance, 401K contribution, paid leave, sick leave, and food & drink discounts.

In short, if you enjoy talking to people there is a lot of room to grow in the hospitality industry. 


Where to learn about coffee art? 

If you are new to the barista world and curious to get started on latte art- check out this beginner’s guide. There are tons of latte art tutorials on You tube too.

Latte Art - 4 designs - swan, heart, two leafs
Latte Art – 4 designs

Looking for something advanced – read this.

Are there any competitions for latte art? 

Yes! There is a whole world wide championship around it. No kidding. It’s a serious business! 

The most popular competition is the “BARISTA” competition hosted by Winners of this category compete in the world barista championship. They also host 4 other competitions: 

  1. Cup Tasters 
  2. Roaster Challenge 
  3. Brewers Cup
  4. Coffee in Good Spirits

More details here –  

Need some inspiration? Follow these amazing baristas – 

Hope you have all the information you needed about barista life. When ready to start looking for barista jobs, start here.

Shilpi Gupta is the founder of Edizeven - a job portal for restaurants. She is a self-proclaimed startup addict. After spending nearly a decade at Amazon, she ran a food business called Kukree before launching her current venture Edizeven.