There is no doubt that I can stroll into my kitchen and brew a pretty good cup of coffee. Yet there are those times when I'm craving a specialty coffee. I've tried to make the perfect latte at home and it again was pretty good but not what I was specifically craving. That's where the professional Barista comes into play to help indulge my taste buds with the perfect combination of coffee, water and a creamy froth. Okay, I digress, now wishing I was at my local coffee shop writing this article :)
In all seriousness, becoming a professional Barista is a viable occupation in today's world. There are the small mom and pop and the big chain coffee shops across the country. There are also numerous other businesses that offer employment for Barista's including resorts, day spas, company cafeterias and more. To get your foot in the door and begin working as a Barista is as easy as submitting your application to a local coffee shop. If you're looking for a bit of experience beforehand you can also look to the Specialty Coffee Association of America that offers courses designed to help individuals obtain their Barista Guild Certification.
Depending on the employer, minimum working age may only be 16 years old. This is absolutely a reasonable job for even high school students to begin honing their skills in the craft. You will need to apply to your local coffee shop, provide a resume and go through the interview process before being hired. There will likely be a criminal background check run to verify your character. Being a Barista is more than just making the perfect coffee drink. A big portion of the job is customer service. If you have prior customer service experience be sure to list it on your resume.
If you're just starting out and have no experience you should expect to spend most of your time behind the cash register taking orders from customers. During busy times the experienced Baristas will generally craft the drinks. Training will likely occur during the slower times of the day. Barista jobs not only include taking orders and making drinks; you'll likely also be cleaning your station, talking with customers about beverage options and learning how to use and program the various coffee and espresso machines. It's a job that will require you to be on your feet and deal with busy rushes.
Beyond that, being a professional Barista is more than just learning how to use an espresso machine. A good Barista will learn about the coffee bean growing process, the different flavors, grinding methods and the pairing of coffee beverage to complement the dining experience. A Barista will experiment with coffee drinks and understand the delicate mixture of ingredients to create unique coffee beverages. As a Barista you may also be creating the coffee menus basing your choices by popularity of a brew and complementary flavors for different times of the day or seasons throughout the year.
When considering salary for a Barista job it's not uncommon for tips to be a part of your salary. So while your base salary may be in the minimum wage range, tips will increase take home pay. The national average annual income for a Barista is about $20,000 and is still a growing profession.
Good attention to detail and the ability to work in a fast paced environment are good skills to bring to the job. Be outgoing, sociable and friendly with your customers. Talk with them and make them feel welcome. I always like when I'm greeted by my name which lets me know that either I drink way to much coffee or that they took the time to remember me. It generally makes me tip a little more too. So it's time to grab an application and start crafting your future Barista career.