Barista Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Barista, or Coffee Bar Attendant, is responsible for preparing and serving coffee and other beverages to customers in a coffee house or cafe. Their duties include working with other Baristas to help take orders, make drinks and provide timely service to customers.

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What does a Barista do?

Baristas are typically employed by  cafes, coffee houses or large cafe chains to help maintain the daily operations of their workplace. They work closely with other baristas and cafe staff to make coffee drinks as instructed by their employer and prepare food if served at their location. The Barista’s job is to engage with customers in a personable and service-oriented manner. They must also be able to make transactions by cash or credit and make drinks in the order they were purchased. 

Baristas may also need to spend extra time perfecting certain recipes and learning new ones to best serve their customers and represent their employer.

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Barista duties and responsibilities

Though Baristas are mainly responsible for making and serving beverages to customers, they can have other responsibilities. A Barista’s usual duties are:

  • Greeting customers in a friendly manner and taking food and drink orders
  • Preparing and serving beverages, ranging from simple to elaborate ones
  • Preparing and serving food items such as soups, sandwiches and pastries
  • Answering customers’ questions about menu choices
  • Promoting and recommending menu options to customers
  • Taking payment from customers
  • Maintaining inventory and equipment by cleaning, troubleshooting and scheduling repairs 
  • Keeping the work environment sanitary and organized
  • Evaluating and modifying processes to improve efficiency and quality of service  
  • Working to attract new customers and expanding the menu

Barista skills and qualifications

Baristas need a variety of skills to memorize drink recipes, learn how to operate equipment and provide efficient customer service. A good Barista should:

  • Listen well and communicate in a professional and friendly manner
  • Focus on customer satisfaction
  • Practice basic safety procedures with respect to equipment and handling hot beverages
  • Be efficient and organized 
  • Build good relationships with customers
  • Maintain a clean work environment
  • Keep supplies replenished to minimize downtime

Barista salary expectations

A Barista makes an average salary of $11.67 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Barista education and training requirements

The average employer does have any specific educational requirements for Baristas, though most prefer or require applicants have a high school diploma. Additional training is recommended for Baristas who will be working in particularly fast-paced or high-pressure environments, like popular coffee shops that serve hundreds of customers per day. Baristas can get specialized professional training at schools or online in order to improve their skills.

Barista experience requirements

The work experience required to be a Barista is usually minimal because most positions are considered entry-level, and many employers in the field hire trainees. However, for fast-paced or specialized positions, you might not want to do on-the-job training and could require applicants have some experience working as a Barista. If you prefer applicants have some basic knowledge of food handling and safety procedures, you might want to require previous experience working in food service.

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Frequently asked questions about Baristas


What is the difference between a Barista and a Bartender?

The difference between a Barista and a Bartender includes the types of drinks they serve and the environments they work in. While Baristas work in coffee houses or cafes serving coffee drinks, Bartenders serve alcoholic beverages in bars in pubs. Due to the nature of the job, Bartenders typically need to be at least 18 years of age while Baristas can be as young as 16 years old.


Who does a Barista report to?

Baristas usually report to a Lead Barista or Cafe Manager. A Cafe Manager oversees the complete day-to-day operations of a coffee house including inventory, cleanliness and staff productivity. A Lead Barista may help train new Baristas and delegate tasks behind the counter to ensure that drinks are made correctly and efficiently. 


What makes a good Barista?

A good Barista is someone who has a combination of qualities that allow them to perform their job duties well. First, they should have a friendly and inviting personality. This is because they will be interacting directly with customers. They will also need to be able to use their friendly nature to navigate difficult customer situations. For example, if a customer complains about how their drink was made, you need a Barista who acknowledges their mistake and makes them another with a smile. 

Further, Baristas should display a commitment to excellence when making coffee beverages. This ensures that they create quality drinks to maintain customer satisfaction and elevate your business. A good Barista should also have a great memory so they can complete specific recipes without error.


What does a Barista do during a typical shift?

A Barista typically begins work behind the counter in a coffee house. Depending on how many employees are on staff they may begin working at the cash register, greeting customers and taking orders. Following this, they will make drinks and place them on the counter for customers to pick up. They may also be responsible for bagging up food items and heating up dishes that the coffee house serves.

Depending on the length of their shift, they may receive an allotted break period for lunch or dinner. During quiet periods, they may be responsible for cleaning up the dining area to maintain a nice, appealing place for customers to sit and enjoy their coffee.

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