What is a Barista?
The term barista comes from the Italian word for bartender, baristi or bariste. A barista is the equivalent of a bartender in the coffee world.
Starting in Norway, World Barista Champions are held world wide annually. In these competitions, the baristas are tested on skill and taste of the coffee. Each country’s signature coffee drink is on the table for their representatives to create their best version of it.
WHO ARE BARISTAS?
Originally baristas were those who worked in coffee houses whose focus was on making espressos or on operating the espresso machine. They would prepare the coffee machine and eventually pull the shot of espresso.
Today, the role of baristas has changed. They are not solely limited to focusing on espressos, but rather are experts in the field of coffee. They have knowledge of the entire menu and are able to serve you a drink based on your preferences. They can suggest drinks to you, answer all questions pertaining to the shop’s coffee, and can brew your drink of choice skillfully. Baristas are able to make any drink on the menu easily, without having to look up how to make the drink in a textbook.
ARE ONLY COFFEE CONNOISSEURS ALLOWED TO BE BARISTAS?
No, anyone is capable of being a barista. There are training classes one can attend to become a barista. The best way to become a skilled barista is by experience. Learning all there is to know about the drinks in real life experiences gives the baristas-to-bes the best tools that they need.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT BARISTA?
There are certain skills a person needs to maintain in order to be considered a good barista. Having these skills will give the barista an edge when the manager is looking for good sportsmanship. Better yet, good barista skills can allow you to move up in the company, possibly becoming a manager of your own.
A barista needs to have a significant amount of knowledge in terms of the drinks of the parlor. They need to know all the drinks that are on the menu, the ingredients, and most importantly how to make them. They also need to be able to answer any and all questions that the customers may have pertaining to the coffee.
The barista needs to be able to work quickly and efficiently in a fast paced environment. With constant customers coming in and out of the store, the barista needs to meet their requests with little to no mistakes. Every time there is a mistake the line becomes longer, inevitably causing customers to be angered.
The barista needs to be detail-oriented and pay close attention to what the customer is saying. Sometimes the customers want more than the typical amount and often get frustrated when it is not done how they wanted. If a customer has dietary restrictions that they alert their barista about, these restrictions need to be focused on as to not cause any harm for the customer. The barista also needs to meet all points of the order to not upset the customer.
The most important skill that a barista needs is to maintain a proper customer service balance. They need to remain on a friendly basis with the customers so that they will enjoy the service and return. Being a polite employee is an attribute that people look for when coming into a store. The customer wants to feel welcome and comfortable wherever they are. Although being friendly is important, the barista also needs to know when they have to set boundaries with the customers; you don’t want to cross a line by accident.
Be sure to thank your barista next coffee run for all the hard work that they put into your energy boost!