How to Become a Barista Without Any Experience – 4 Actionable Tips

how to become a barista without experience

Whether you’re passionate about the art of coffee, want to pick up a new side hustle, or are interested in making a career change, becoming a barista can open doors into the fascinating world of coffee beverages. You may choose to work for a local gras roots coffee shop or whip up drinks at a popular chain like Dutch Bros or Starbucks.

Taking online training courses is the fastest way to become a barista without experience. Training courses provide in-depth knowledge of coffee from its origins, flavor profiles, recipes, machines, and how to make make drinks. Home practice is also beneficial as-is part-time training, and getting to know the job by engaging with baristas at your local coffee shops.

Key Takeaways

Becoming a full-time barista without experience is possible by getting in touch with coffee lingo, practicing making drinks, and taking online courses.
Chatting with baristas from your local coffee shop can give you inside pointers on what
Having good customer service and communication can make the difference between being a good barista or a great one.
Chatting with baristas from your local coffee shop can give you inside pointers on what 

What Is a Barista?

If you’ve ever ordered a cup of coffee at a coffee shop, you’ve tasted a barista’s creation. Even though most people are pros at ordering their favorite latte or Frappuccino, many people are a little sketchy about exactly what a barista does. When you’re trying to become a barista, you’ll want to know everything about the trade, including what is a barista.

First off, the word barista, or “bartender”, comes from Italy and traditionally refers to a person who serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Barista is a gender-neutral word both in Italian and English when it’s used in the singular, so both males and females who make and serve coffee drinks are called baristas. In the U.S., the term only refers to people who serve caffeinated drinks, not alcoholic beverages.

Next, a barista’s job description is centered around the commercial coffee business. While some people who get into artisan brewing at home may style themselves a barista, a barista operates either an automatic or a manual commercial espresso machine that requires tons of training, skill, and nuanced adaption to order preferences, weather, coffee batch characteristics to create the perfect drink.

Every barista has to know the complicated steps to work an espresso machine and prepare drinks from a menu or to a customer’s specifications by heart.

For example, baristas not only get espresso just right, but they also foam, steam, or froth milk to make a variety of drinks that have espresso bases. They also make French Press coffee, drip coffee, and pour-over coffee drinks.

As a barista, you’ll need to already know the difference between how to make different types of coffee, such as a Cortado, with balanced parts of dense, steamed milk to contrast with an espresso base and a flat white coffee which has equal amounts of steamed plus textured milk with espresso. 

Excellent, fast-paced, and friendly customer service skills are also part of a barista’s job description. Many people interact with the barista when the barista prepares their drinks in smaller shops. In some larger coffee brands, baristas may work behind the scenes without talking to customers.

At the end of the day, customer service and comprehensive coffee-making skills play an essential role in what it means to be a barista.

How to Become a Barista with No Experience

Ready to start your new career as a barista?

As a general rule, you can be a barista without any experience. At the same time, you’ll need to boost your knowledge and skills about espresso making and milk steaming fundamentals to become a successful barista.  

There are a lot of resources to get you to barista proficiency levels. Since this isn’t the type of career where you learn on the job, you’ll need to make sure that you know how to make basically every kind of coffee drink, use manual or automatic espresso machines, and understand coffee terminology before you start applying for barista jobs

Getting formal training, reading everything you can about the coffee world, and getting a ton of practice making coffee beverages are important steps in gaining a more competitive edge when you hit the job market.

A barista training course can help you become familiar with barista terminology and coffee origin experience, educate you about how to work an espresso machine and prepare espresso, teach you the fundamentals of coffee bean roasting, how to steam, froth, or texture milk, how to create latte art, the art of manual coffee brewing, and how to maintain equipment and keep your workstation clean.   

One of the best things to do is to ask the coffee company that you want to work for about which certifications they suggest aspiring baristas to get.

Tips To Become A Barista Without Experience

  1. Consider attending a barista school such as The Specialty Coffee Association, the Seattle Training Academy (in-person training), a hybrid training course like Bellissimo Coffee Advisors, or take an online class such as Online Barista Training or Barista Hustle. It’s a good idea to also check for a barista and café training course at your local community college.
  2. The best way to become a barista is to practice, and practice a lot! You can do this at home if you have an espresso machine or you can borrow one if you don’t have the money to buy a fancy espresso machine. 
  3. It’s also a good idea to talk to any local baristas, or barista friends, or join a social group to add more to your knowledge and get a better feel for the job.
  4. 4,  Hop onto YouTube and watch some videos from professional baristas to understand barista lingo, such as the difference between a Flat White and a Red Eye. With tons of how-to videos online, this is an easy way to get great instruction and experience without spending any money on classes or equipment.  

Bonus Tip: Dial-in your communication skills. If you are introverted like me, it might be hard to step out of your comfort zone. You’ll appreciate it though because one of the greatest benefits of being a barista is chatting with people and “making their day” with mindful and upbeat conversation.

Once you have the basics down, you’ll need to continue to grow both your skills and knowledge. This means becoming familiar with how many kinds of coffee drinks are made. It also means improving your speed, accuracy, and workflow since a coffee shop is a fun and vibrant place to work that’s also a fast-paced and customer-focused environment.

Most places will give some barista training if you apply and are hired. Just keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to start from scratch as a new barista since you’ll already need to know the basics. The good news is that a training course will help you learn all the jargon, job requirements, and general barista responsibilities.

Getting Hired as a Barista

A coffee shop has a warm ambiance, freshly ground and roasted coffee smells, and friendly coworkers that attracts many people to becoming baristas. 

With a training course under your belt, you’ll have much more experience and feel more confident to take the next step towards your barista career goals: getting hired.

There are some basic requirements for most barista jobs:

  • A high-school diploma or GED.
  • Food, beverage, or customer service experience.
  • Willingness to train and learn more about food and beverage preparation processes.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • A friendly, polite, and engaging manner.
  • The ability to stand, bend, or walk for extended periods.
  • Available to work holidays, weekends, early mornings, nights, and other peak hours.
  • A commitment to customer service satisfaction and excellence.
  • Wing to work in a fast-paced, efficient, and high-energy store environment.

First, you may want to think about the kind of place where you want to work.

If you want to stay local and head in the unique or artisan coffee direction, try looking for a local hip or trendy café that appeals to you. If you want to expand your horizons and have a good chance of being hired, try applying for a position at a popular coffee brand like Starbucks.

Working as a barista is a professional skill set that is in demand all over the world. If you’re passionate about traveling and seeing the world, try looking for jobs in a different state or even overseas. Since barista skills are transferable, it’s easy to travel the world and pick up jobs as needed if you’re staying in one place for a while.

Next, you’ll want to consider what a coffee shop may look for in a barista candidate. Most coffee places will want to see your resume. That’s where taking an online course can really help your resume stand out. If you’ve helped out with catering or serving coffee at any local events for real-world practice, now’s the time to put this kind of experience on your resume.

It’s also a good idea to include a cover letter with your application explaining why the hiring manager should choose you over other candidates. If you have gained lots of experience with espresso machines and know how to make a lot of coffee variations, say so.

Keep in mind that a barista may have other responsibilities besides making and serving drinks, especially in smaller, non-chain coffee shops. These responsibilities may include managing the cash register, taking stock, cleanup or organization, and possible product promotion.

The better your resume looks and the more experience you can add, the higher your chances of landing your dream barista job.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Barista?

It takes anywhere from 3-12 months to gain enough experience to create high-quality espresso beverages for customers.

Being a barista is a competitive field with a steep learning curve, but it’s possible to become a fully proficient barista with about two years of specific professional experience. It may take longer to hone your skills to be considered a barista pro.

Final Thoughts

Most coffee shops are looking for someone who has the skills and the drive to create high-quality coffee beverages from the store menu.

Even if you can’t afford an online training course, there are other ways to learn how to become a barista. You can get books to teach yourself about the craft, connect with baristas in the industry via social media or local groups, befriend a barista, and even borrow an espresso machine from a friend to practice at home.

Always keep in mind that even if you don’t succeed in getting hired at a specific location, try different places, keep honing your skills, and stay focused on your goal to become a barista. 

Christopher Mize

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