Independent coffee shop jobs: A guide

Think of coffee out with friends and it may be that the big brands come to mind first.

Names like Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero are in place all over the UK and they continue to attract huge customers numbers.

They are all big employers too, hiring people in coffee shop jobs, such as baristas – the men and women who create delectable coffee drinks to serve to the public every day.

But there are also many independent coffee shops in the UK – locations that perhaps look to provide a more unique cafe experience compared to branches of large-scale counterparts.

Each city has its own selection, and each independent shop will be somewhat different to the next – often varying significantly more than different branches of the same coffee chain do.

In some cases, indies are specifically designed to appeal to people who have become bored of seeing the same coffees and shop styles over and over again in big-name branches  – or perhaps were never fans in the first place.  

Styles of independent include coffee venues that try to create what they hope will seem like a more individual, 'cool' and knowledgeable atmosphere compared to the big chains – at least to the minds of the customers they cater for. These places might include functional-looking furniture and a slightly utilitarian aesthetic.

Of course in many respects working for one of these venues is a similar experience to working for a big chain.

You may experience some of the pros and cons that come with working for any small business, compared to a bigger rival.

A barista at an independent may feel it's easier for them to have significant say over overall company direction, for example, which could help keep them motivated. On the other hand, bigger chains may have the resources to provide more in the way of benefits and job security.

Serving style might not differ much from one type of shop to the other. In both a small independent and a larger chain, an interest in coffee will be very useful, as will being able to be excited about this sort of drink!  

It's possible, though, that working for an independent that's looking to appeal to dedicated coffee connoisseurs seeking an alternative to the chains, you'll more often get the chance to enthuse on the topic of coffee more generally – not just your employer's drinks – and pass on knowledge on the subject.  

One advantage of working for a large organisation might come into play if a worker expects to move location. As they have shops all over the nation, such places are more likely to be able to offer people a transfer to another job elsewhere.

General attributes that are useful for baristas wherever they work include people skills, so that they can interact well with customers and colleagues.

The ability to produce great, consistent beverages is a must, though this could be something that training provides you with after you secure a position.