Looking to start a career in the coffee industry? Here are five things to consider before taking the plunge and becoming a barista.
1. It goes without saying that most baristas seem to love drinking coffee. While it is a customer service job, serving coffee is also a work of science and art, a skill honed through trial and error and countless sensory (tasting) sessions. Because coffee beans de-gas over a period of time (and many other factors), their flavor can change from one day to the next. The lead barista usually starts each morning by calibrating their espresso recipe to ensure it produces a quality sensory experience for the rest of the day, which requires making, and sampling, several cups of coffee. If you do not like drinking coffee or cannot drink coffee for health reasons, being a barista may not be the right job for you.
2. Because the sensory aspects of coffee are such an important part of being a barista, having a refined sense of taste, tactile and smell is very helpful to someone looking to make it in the coffee industry. Like a sommelier can describe flavor notes in wine, an experienced barista can identify different flavor notes in a particular roast of coffee, this helps them determine how best to brew and serve that batch. For example, did you know that some coffees are more suitable to Espresso (black) whilst others are more suited to milk based Espresso (Cappuccino, Latte etc)? An experienced barista should be able to help a customer determine which roast is the best fit for their preferences.
3. Do you REALLY LOVE COFFEE? Do you consider yourself a “coffee purist?”, can you tell if a coffee is washed or natural just by sampling it? Do you subconsciously judge others who put milk and sugar in their coffee… or god forbid, use instant?!? We understand wanting to enter the coffee industry because you Just. Love. Coffee. So. Much. However, you need to leave the "coffee purist" attitude at home. Being a barista is a customer-focused job, and customers can tell if you are silently judging their choice to put three splendas and one sugar into their mocha. If they have questions, by all means, give answers! But remember, your job is to make them what they enjoy, NOT to tell them what to enjoy.
4. On the topic of customer service, it’s important for a barista to be able to work well with customers. Having a positive attitude, sufficient energy, the ability to work quickly under pressure, and consistently brew good coffees, is essential. Not everyone is suited to this type of work, but that doesn’t mean your love of coffee can't turn into an exciting career.
5. If you love coffee, but don’t feel at home in a customer-focused line of work, there are other jobs in the coffee industry! Working at a coffee roastery, or in the sales or marketing department of a coffee company, or even becoming a coffee buyer, are all areas of the coffee industry that don’t require the same level of customer interaction and physical activity that being a Barista does.