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Barista: Salary, Duties, and Job Description

Job Descriptions January 21, 2013

When you need a coffee, you might just walk into a coffee shop and order a cuppa joe, or even a half-caf skinny latte without whipped cream, or a venti, and just wait for your order to be fulfilled. The person who actually fulfills the order behind the counter and makes you your cup of coffee is called a barista. In this article, we will look at the various requirements that need to be fulfilled by a prospective barista to follow a successful career path.

Many coffee shops provide comprehensive training to baristas who understand the intricacies of brewing and roasting coffee or they are taught the fundamentals associated with the use of in-house equipment. Baristas are usually paid on an hourly basis. Additionally, they also receive tips from customers.

Job Description

A barista is primarily engaged in making and serving coffee drinks; the word ‘barista’ actually stands for ‘bar-tender’ in the Italian language. Coffee shops, including single location outlets in the area and large chain shops are the most common employers of baristas; clubs, restaurants and bookstores also employs baristas. They accept and fulfill orders and are required to multi-task by making multiple drinks simultaneously. Apart from exceptional customer service skills, they also need excellent listening skills, so that they hear the customer’s order correctly and prepare the drinks as required.

Education and Training

Employers of baristas usually impart hands on training in specific menus and processes. A college degree is not usually needed to be employed as a barista, but candidates who aspire to pursue management or corporate positions in the future should look at completing college programs in hospitality or business management. Policies differ from employee to employee, but some of them seek candidates who have completed a GED or high school diploma (source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).

Baristas who aspire to become coffees shop owners themselves, or seek advanced roles within the industry should look at acquiring additional training via specialized coffee education, business or culinary courses. The job of a barista goes beyond flipping on the automatic coffee maker. They have to know the recipes for all the specialty coffee drinks served at their employers’ shop; they must also know how to use automated espresso machines and other equipment in the shop. A customer relies on a barista to educate them (the customer) about different coffee products. The barista is also expected to be able to select the right coffee beans and must be able to grind them. Some shops also require baristas to prepare salads or sandwiches and help serve bakery items.

Baristas are required to keep the store sanitary and clean whenever they are not busy serving customers their coffee drinks. They are expected to organize and clean preparation areas, floors and tables, and maintain restrooms and empty garbage. Shop owners usually train baristas in proper food handling, safety and food storage.


In May 2010, baristas and other food service attendants earned an average hourly wage of $8.83, including tips; source: BLS ( A job growth of ten percent has been projected for beverage and food serving professionals during the period from 2008 to 2018 (BLS).

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