Are you eager to get some job experience in an upbeat work setting? Thanks to the national craze for specialty coffee prompted by Starbucks and other coffee sellers, there are now dozens of coffee shops and drive-through espresso bars in every town in America, and they are always looking for talented and cheerful baristas.
There are lots of benefits to being a barista besides work experience. If you can get hired by Starbucks, for example, you’ll be entitled to some sweet perks while the coffee percolates. The company currently offers customized benefits packages, a stock program, generous college tuition support, and employee discounts.
Top Skills Baristas Need
To work as a barista, you need solid customer service skills and the ability to work independently as well as with a team in a fast-paced environment. Loving the smell of fresh coffee doesn't hurt either.
A few examples of customer service skills include empathy, a solid understanding of the product you handle, and diligence.
Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by position and type of skill.
Attention to Detail
Many coffee shop customers make very specific drink requests. It is up to the barista to accurately measure and mix all of the ingredients, and create the drink the customer wants. This requires high attention to detail, as well as some general measuring and math skills. You will also need this attention to detail when working the cash register.
- Cash handling
- High level of accuracy
- Point of Sale Systems (POS)
As a barista, you will be dealing directly with customers all day. This requires strong interpersonal skills. You have to be able to put on a friendly face when interacting with customers. You need to listen carefully to their orders and be able to answer any questions they have. This requires strong communication skills, as well.
- Positive Attitude
- Team Player
- Verbal Communication
- Written Communication
Baristas must be able to do some things at once. They might be making multiple drinks while also working the register and answering a customer’s question. All of this can cause stress, especially in a busy café. Baristas have to be able to handle the pressure of a busy work environment and must be able to calmly complete multiple duties at one time.
- Ability to Work Under Pressure
- Stress Management
- Work Under Pressure
Hiring managers want to know their baristas will show up to work on time and be professional, responsible employees. You can demonstrate this skill in your interview simply by showing up a few minutes early, dressing in clean and appropriate attire, and bringing all requested documents.
- Following Instructions
Some coffee shops will hire baristas who have no experience in making coffee and other beverages. However, many companies expect you to have some experience. Read the job listing carefully—if you need any technical skills, be prepared to provide evidence of your knowledge. For example, during the interview, the hiring manager might even ask you to make a drink on the spot.
- Coffee Drinks
- Coffee Tasting
- Health and Safety Codes
- Juice Bar Drinks
- Latte Art
- Specialty Coffee Drinks
Typical Barista Duties
To know what skills to emphasize on your resume and during your barista interviews, you first need to know what your responsibilities as a barista will be. Keep in mind the responsibilities vary depending on the job and the company, so read the job listing carefully first.
Typical barista duties at a small, independent coffee shop or a large retail chain might include:
- Preparing to open the store.
- Taking orders and ringing up payment.
- Grinding coffee beans.
- Preparing and serving light food and snacks.
- Cleaning work areas, coffee machines, and equipment.
- Creating stock displays.
- Keeping track of inventory and placing new orders.
- Preparing the store to close.
On-the-job training may include learning things like:
- The origins and flavors of coffee to best answer customers' questions.
- How to use and clean a coffee bean grinder and espresso machine.
- How to add foam and texture to milk.
- Adding artistic designs to the top of a latte.
- Knowledge of sourcing, roasting, extraction, milk temperatures, and different brewing methods.
- How to prepare specialty coffee and tea drinks.
Advanced training teaches a barista to understand:
- The coffee production process, from growth until the time it's poured into the cup, along with how the entire process affects the final beverage.
- Characteristics of different types of coffee.
- The roasting process, roast type, caffeine, and Swiss Water decaffeination process.
- The characteristics of Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance coffees.
- The dimensions of coffees grown in different regions.
- How to create a drink for a customer based on his or her individual preferences.
Keep in mind that many barista jobs require only a resume and/or an application—you might even be asked specifically not to include a cover letter.
More Customer Service Skills
Here's a list of more customer service skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Review the list below and try and locate a few qualities you have to make sure you're the proper candidate for a position as a barista, or another customer service position.
- Attention to Detail
- Conflict Resolution
- Customer Care
- Detail Oriented
- Handling Stress
- Improve Competitiveness
- Increase Customer Retention
- Language Knowledge
- Oral Communication
- People Oriented
- Problem Analysis
- Problem Solving
- Product Knowledge
- Positive Attitude
- Public Speaking
- Time Management
- Valuing the Organization
- Verbal Communication
- Written Communications
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
Mention Your Most Relevant Attributes: You can also incorporate them into your cover letter. Include one or two of the skills mentioned here, and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.
Share Your Skills With the Interviewer: You can use skill words in your interview. Keep the top skills listed here (and the top skills included in the job listing) in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each.