What makes a brilliant barista?

If you love your coffee you may well fancy making it for a living as a barista in a coffee shop or in other locations where coffee is sold.

Though you can often work behind a coffee bar as an entry-level position, many employers take their product very seriously and may look for previous experience, or at least enthusiasm about the subject of coffee, so they can be sure you know your beans!

This is perhaps especially the case these days when independent coffee shops are springing up that look to give trendy customers a very personal experience, complete with expert coffee fans serving them their lattes.

To get you into the mood if coffee serving sounds like your thing, here are four things that might just help you get the job.

Being a coffee fan

These days, coffee is not something that you simply drink black or with milk. Our love for the tastes of other countries has seen European serving styles become common place here in the UK. If you're a barista, chances are you'll need to know all about lattes, americanos and cappuccinos – and even if you've had your fair share of joe in the past, it could pay to do your research to find the exact differences prior to making a job application in this area.  

Chances are you'll be given training on the job so that you know how to make the exact drinks your new employer sells. But even being able to say you've used home espresso machines could give you the edge over a candidate with no experience at all.

Remember that these days there's a heavy focus on espresso-based drinks when it comes to coffee. Things like lattes use coffee prepared in this way, where hot water is forced through tightly-packed ground beans to produce a strong drink that is then mixed with water or milk or drunk on its own.

Customer service skills  

Ultimately, being a barista is a customer facing job. If you have been a member of waiting staff in the past, or even simply worked in a shop outside of the food industry, this could be an advantage at application time. If you have not done something linked to customers in this way, think about where you have had to deal with people you don't know in your life – did you ever help out at a school event, for example? Having done this sort of activity could help you when application time rolls around.

Being able to work quickly

Creating coffee is often all about producing quality results in a short time frame. You'll likely be having to make coffees for several customers at once, methodically producing each to high standards.
An eye for detail is important, as coffee shops, for example, like to think that their coffees are special for the customer, and will certainly want each cup to be of consistent quality so that those paying are not disappointed.

This is one reason why they will be pleased to see prior experience on your CV, but you will also develop your practical coffee creation skills as you go through your day to day work.

Be prepared to do those little jobs

Understand that, if you apply to be a barista, chances are you won't just be making coffee. Other duties might include preparing food, working a till and keeping the bar and cafe area clean. So know that you'll have to demonstrate multiple skill areas, and a desire to do your best at every facet of the job, to secure that barista position. 

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you find catering jobs.