What Makes A Good Barista? | 9 Tips You Should Know About




barista, coffee, specialty coffee, good barista

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An article about what makes a good barista? Surely this will be an easy piece of writing. After all, there are only so many things that can go into being a good barista, aren’t there?

In this article, we will explain what makes a good barista to help you save time and money.

What is a Barista?

A barista is someone who makes coffee drinks all day long for people. Yeah, I’m not kidding. That’s…pretty much it.

So why do we call ourselves baristas instead of just servers at a coffee shop? I mean, because that’s what we are technically but there is more to it than that.

A big part of the job comes from the customer service aspect which means that you aren’t just handing them their drink and leaving, you’re engaging with them about their lives and what they like in hopes of giving them a better experience than just any old coffee shop would.

9 Tips In Becoming A Good Barista

1) Don’t run

The best thing you can do as a barista is walk fast over to where your espresso machine is and wait patiently for the drink order.

2) Make eye contact

Make eye contact with everyone who walks into the shop that doesn’t have their eyes glued to their phone or iPod playing flappy bird.

It takes less than one second to say hello and smile and it makes a huge difference.

It starts the mood of on a positive note and people will be friendlier to you if you do this, plus they’ll probably want to tip you better because your friendly demeanour towards them was greatly appreciated.  

3) Clean up after yourself

Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up after.

You might not think twice about leaving a dirty espresso cup in the sink or hanging a random jacket from a door knob but other people have to look at that!

Be considerate of where you are putting things so that others don’t have to deal with seeing your trash around their shop.

Plus, by doing this it shows how conscientious you are of the space you occupy in that coffee bar, and if you want to be taken seriously as a barista you need to take coffee bars seriously.

4) Know your equipment and how it works

The only way you’re going to get better is by using the equipment.

If there is something wrong with an espresso machine don’t just hand off that drink order and let someone else fix it, don’t wait for someone to come over and do it for you.

This just shows that you aren’t proactive enough in doing your job and this can paint a negative picture of yourself as a barista.

The best thing about working at a coffee shop is learning new things so why not try and learn something beyond what’s on the next drink menu.

It will not only help you become a better barista but also give you a better appreciation for the world of coffee.

baristas making coffee with espresso machine

5) Pace yourself and take care of your body

Remember that you’re going to be standing behind a counter most of the day so make sure to stretch and walk around every so often so you don’t injure yourself by standing in one place too long.

Sometimes baristas forget about their own bodies and just focus on making drinks all day, but it’s not smart to do this.

Take five minutes out of each hour and go for a walk, I promise that it will help your legs as well as your mind!    

6) Smile and engage with customers

When people ask questions or state opinions about coffee always be positive towards them, even if you disagree, which is not often.

Talk to people about what they like and let them know that you’re happy to make it for them if they don’t know where to start.

Try and learn something new from every single person that walks into your coffee bar, everyone has a different perspective!

Engaging with customers is always good because then they will also be more likely to engage with you when the time comes.

7) Greet people when they leave

As corny as this sounds sometimes I see baristas not greet people when they leave the coffee shop which really irks me so much.

A simple goodbye or thank you goes such a long way in showing kindness towards someone and it makes all the difference in the world.

After all, we work in customer service so we should be the epitome of it! It’s also very nice to see people off instead of just ignoring them as they walk out, this is something that I notice often during my crazy days behind the coffee bar.   

8) Be clean and wear deodorant

Baristas are messy creatures.

Being a barista means that you’re making drinks all day long with multiple different ingredients which makes you dirty by default but try your best to keep things around you neat and tidy.

When working behind a coffee bar people really appreciate seeing someone who looks like they know what they’re doing rather than looking like they’ve been on their hands and knees scrubbing floors.

Wear deodorant for goodness sake, no one likes body odour after all.    

9) Be happy!

At the end of the day we work in customer service and we always have to remember that we are working with people so there is no need to get annoyed when someone takes too long or doesn’t know what drink they want.

Everyone has their own story and it’s important for us baristas to learn about them so you can make every single person who walks into your coffee shop feel welcome.

What Are The Qualifications To Make A Good Barista?

When it comes to working in the coffee industry there are no qualifications needed, just a passion for serving people.

However, having some sort of knowledge about the history of coffee will always be beneficial.

Many people don’t know where to start when they first start drinking coffee because it can seem very complicated at first so any little bit of information would benefit them greatly.

Either way you should never feel intimidated by sharing your opinions with customers because this is one of the best parts about being a barista, talking to new people every day!

  • Level 1 Award in Introduction to Employment in the Hospitality Industry.
  • Lvl 2 Award in Barista Skills.
  • Lvl 2 Diploma in Food and Beverage Service.

I think that making a good cup of coffee has nothing to do with qualifications and everything to do with the person preparing it.

Someone who has been working in a coffee shop for over a decade can make a terrible cup of coffee if they aren’t passionate about what they’re doing.

Always be appreciative for someone’s business and show them your gratitude through good service, great drinks, and kindness.

Some of the best baristas I know have no formal training other than their experience in the industry.

So it’s not always necessary to go to school to become a barista but it can be helpful when learning things like latte art if that’s something you’re interested in, but again, all of these things can be taught while working at coffee shops.

Why Is It Important To Have Strong Coffee Knowledge?

Having good coffee knowledge is very important when it comes to preparing drinks at a coffee shop.

Having the ability to explain the reasoning behind every single drink you make is very helpful especially when dealing with customers who are new to specialty drinks.

“One of the most important traits that a good barista should posses is knowledge about their product.

This doesn’t mean they can tell you every single type of bean and blend; it means that they know what beans taste like, how to use those beans to vary flavours, and why some roasts are more suited for espresso than others”.

James Hoffman

If you’re able to educate them about what they’re consuming then your chances of retaining those customers increases greatly.

I’ve found that many people come into coffee shops and order their flavoured drink without thinking twice about what it actually contains, if they knew how much sugar was in those simple syrup-heavy drinks then I’m sure they would opt for something different.    

As a barista you also have the responsibility of making sure your guests leave happy and satisfied because you can only repeat business if they had a good experience, if they don’t than no matter how much you love your job it’ll be hard to retain returning customers.

coffee cupping, coffee, specialty coffee

Can Proper Training Benefit Baristas?

Any sort of professional development is usually extremely helpful when working in customer service.

It’s important for coffee shops to invest in their employees because there are numerous benefits that an education gives them whether it includes developing their technical skills or expanding their knowledge about the history of coffee; both are things I value greatly when working behind the counter.

It’s also great for people who want to stay up-to-date on changes within the industry like new techniques and practices.

How To Work With People Who Are Rude Or Difficult To Serve?

If someone treats you rudely or is being difficult to serve at your coffee shop then it’s important for you to remain calm and defuse the situation as best you can.

Don’t take anything said to you personally because they are probably having a bad day, if this continues then I would suggest switching up who serves them because not everyone has the same tolerance level for this sort of thing.

Make sure that if their drink isn’t satisfactory that they are aware of how/why it’s unsatisfactory so they understand what went wrong instead of making assumptions that could be false.

This way there is no miscommunication between the customer and barista which will help avoid future conflicts.

It’s also important to remind yourself why you’re serving coffee because it’s definitely not for the money, you do it because you love it!

What Makes A Good Barista Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions
Q. What tools do you need to work as a barista?

A. The only “tool” you really need is a good grinder, everything else can be improvised.

Q. What is the average pay for a barista?

A. The average pay as a barista is usually between $12-$13 an hour which is pretty standard in most cafes.

Q. How long does it take before a person can become a full-time barista?

A. If you’re working within the coffee industry and you’ve been there for at least 6 months than you should feel comfortable enough to ask your boss if you could work on weekends, this will show them that you are committed and willing to do more than what they currently trust you with.

Q. How long does it take for someone to master latte art?

A. It takes time to be able to master latte art because you have to know how much milk to steam, and if the pitcher is too hot then the milk will taste burnt and not as sweet as it should.

The consistency of your pour also comes with lots of practice but as long as you try different speeds and angles then it shouldn’t take more than a couple months.

Conclusion: What Makes A Good Barista 

I hope these tips help you out if you’re a coffee shop barista or someone who is looking to become one!

The coffee world can be very rewarding and satisfying if you have the right attitude about it.

Overall, having good coffee knowledge when it comes to working as a barista, and developing ones technical skills can help you become a great barista.

I personally enjoy learning new things about the industry because it keeps me up-to-date on changes which can be helpful during my everyday work.

Remind yourself why you’re serving coffee – it’s not for the money!

If you enjoyed this article, read more like this by checking out our Specialty Coffee Beginners Guides.

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