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|Responsibilities||Taking customer orders and payment, making and serving drinks and keeping the bar area clean.|
£9.63 per hour / £18,789 per year
Top and Bottoms: Usually your own clothes, that you don't mind getting messy
If precision and efficiency is your cup of tea, and you work well under pressure, you could make a great barista. As with many jobs in hospitality and catering, there are lots of different places you could work. You don’t need a formal qualification, so building up your experience and knowledge in your field is key.
The day-to-day duties of a barista usually include setting up the coffee machine, taking orders and payment from customers, making coffees and serving them, cleaning as you go, machine maintenance and closing up at the end of the day. As you gain more experience and become a valuable member of the team, you will gain more responsibility. Such as keeping check of your stock and ordering what you need, including things like coffee beans, various types of milk, take away cups and cleaning equipment.
So what is going to make you stand out? It’s all about a thirst for knowledge, says Adrian Mancuso, barista academy trainer at Five Senses Coffee, “I always look for a barista who knows their craft. If you’ve never worked as a barista before, don’t just guess. Ask the right questions and show a willingness to learn. Someone who has an open mind and is eager to learn is going to make the best barista,” he says.
When starting out, you have two options: formal training or find somewhere that will teach you on the job. Lots of places say they require you to already have some experience so Mancuso recommends that new candidates look for a coffee training school. “Find somewhere that specialises in all forms of coffee training. Starting with a basic espresso course is always best; this will give you the confidence you require in an interview and follow up trial shifts.”
Spend some time to consider your training options, and what is right for you. There is usually the option to study part-time, which leaves time to work.
But if training isn’t a route for you, don’t give up yet. Try to find someone who is happy to employ you as a barista from the start. A good teacher is always key for perfecting a new skill. “Look for a place that has a good level of service and a great understanding of the coffee they’re working with, if they can’t give you a job ask them to recommend places to check out,” Mancuso adds. “Be a good student, listen to them, ask questions and start soaking up coffee knowledge from wherever you can. Go into coffee shops on your days off, drink their coffee, and chat to the baristas if you can. See what information you can find online or even go to your local library.”
Barista vacancies are often advertised on job boards, Facebook groups or through word of mouth. When applying for barista jobs, it’s important to highlight all of your relevant experience. Any jobs you’ve had serving customers or working front of house will be useful when applying for your first role as a barista.
Working as front of house staff is another route you could take to becoming a barista if you have no coffee experience. Firstly, find a place with an espresso machine that is looking for staff. The next step is to show your interest in coffee, and offer to help the barista out where you can; even if it’s collecting clean mugs or restocking the milk fridge for them. When it’s quiet on the customer front, and only if your manager is happy with it, you could then ask them for a few tips and demonstration on the espresso machine.
If you take this route, be honest with your manager about your intentions to become a barista from the start. And always make sure you are fulfilling the job you were employed to do. If you’re going to do it this way, you’ll need to be patient, grateful of any guidance and soak up as much as you can.
Some coffee shops are also independent roasters. As a way to educate customers, and ultimately sell their coffee, they sometimes offer public cuppings. These tasting sessions are often run by one of the roasters (read: extremely knowledgeable barista). Try to go to one, as it’s a great way of learning about how coffee beans are grown, prepared and turned into delicious coffee. Make the absolute most of these sessions; ask questions, write notes, and you never know who you might meet. Your future boss might be standing next to you.
Pay and hours for baristas can vary greatly depending on where you work and type of employment. For a salaried barista job, the average pay a year is £18,579, according to caterer.com. If you land a permanent contract you will probably be working around 40 hours a week. Hourly rates will differ depending mainly on your experience and responsibilities of the role.
Casual hours can be great for providing flexibility; when applying for jobs you’ll have the choice whether to work somewhere that is open only during the day, all day and night, or from lunchtime until dinner. Think about what would suit your lifestyle and other commitments. For example, if you’re a student who has classes during the day, evening barista shifts in a restaurant might suit you – just don’t over work yourself or over commit to something you can’t keep up.
When you start a new job, if the hours and shifts aren’t set, be clear about which days you could work and the amount of hours that would be ideal for you. Remember as a temporary employee, you aren’t guaranteed a number of hours, and could be sent home early if it’s very quiet. This is the nature of temporary work in hospitality and catering. If you would like the extra shifts you can always offer to pick up some front of house shifts too.
In terms of career progression, it’s up to you to push yourself and keep moving forward. As Mancuso points out: “Baristas have a wide range of opportunities in the coffee industry." For example, moving into a management role, working in a roastery or as a roaster. Some other avenues may be working as a part of the training team or administration for a roaster or coffee school.”
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