I’m currently a part-time barista at a small café in suburban Sydney. I’m also a full-time intern and undergrad uni student. Most of the people I work with are also completing degrees in fields like science, teaching and psychology so we can all freak out during exam time together ?
My job in a nutshell… While being a barista involves making coffee 50% of the time, the other 50% involves managerial duties. These responsibilities include washing dishes, overseeing stock levels, balancing cash, handling customer complaints, admin work, liaising with suppliers… and much more!
In terms of actually making the coffee, there are so many variables that can affect the cup you produce. Origin of beans, grinder settings, air humidity, technique used to steam milk, water temperature and cleanliness of the work station are just some of these. To be quite honest, it took me about 2 years before I started to produce coffee worthy enough to sell!
Why I applied… I started in this role when I was 16, and simply wanted a part-time job so I could make some money to spend at Topshop. Fast forward to 5 years later and I’m still a barista… and still spending wayyyyy too much money at Topshop.
How I applied… Since I work at a local café, the application process was quite relaxed. I simply walked in and handed my resume to the manager. About 2 weeks later she gave me a call and I started right away!
Quick tip — always hand your resume to the manager/boss. This is incredibly important as the hiring decision can heavily rely on a lasting, first impression. If the manager themselves don’t experience this, then they might find it difficult to form a great perception of you.
Specific skills you may use and that are valuable…
- Thick skin
- Working well under pressure
- Interpersonal skills
- Oh, and making coffee!
These skills are absolutely integral if you want to be a barista. Cafés can be noisy, stressful and unpredictable, and after standing on your feet for up to 13 hours a day, you need to be able to be professional to sustain an efficient workflow.
Do this job if you like… People! The hospitality industry is all about creating the best customer experience. If you can remember a time where a barista was super friendly, made a kick-ass coffee AND left you with a huge smile on your face, then they did their job!
Don’t do this job if you don’t like… Don’t become a barista if you don’t like working in a fast-paced environment where you are unfortunately seen as a “servant” to some people. Work doesn’t stop when the door shuts. You will constantly think about a rude comment a customer said, or whether or not you handled the 3:00pm coffee rush as well as you could have. The emotional labour involved can take a toll on you.
Any tips/advice for those thinking about this career…. If you dream about opening up an Instagram worthy café, seek a role in people management or just straight-up love coffee, then becoming a barista is the first step in turning these dreams into reality.