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  • Writer's pictureJoLene

Being a Barista | 5 Novice Barista Tips

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

I got my job at Starbucks when I finished high school when I was 18. It was the first "real job" that I had and I love it! I had started to apply to jobs nearby my house, but before I could even pass out resumes to other job positions, I received a phone call for an interview with Starbucks.

I Don't Drink Coffee but I'm a Barista

Ironically I don't drink coffee, I prefer tea, but I love the customer focus that Starbucks has and how much the company cares for its baristas and customers. I rarely drink coffee, but when I do it's an iced soy latte with 2 pumps toffee nut haha.

Coffee Culture in the US vs Europe

The US has a very strong coffee culture, every office has a coffee machine, every restaurant serves cups of brewed coffee and there are coffee shops on almost every corner. In the US there are tons of Starbucks cafes as well as local coffee stands and other coffee competitors (such as Dutch Bros, the Human Bean, Insomnia, and various other local shops). In the US it's very common to grab a cup of coffee from a drive-thru coffee shop where there is no cafe seating area. American coffee is typically brewed in a metal or paper filter and served with half and half cream and sugar. Germans, as well as Europeans, often prefer using espresso (a highly concentrated shot amount of coffee) and drinking lattes (where they add frothed whole milk on top of 1-2 shots of espresso). In Italy, it's very common to only drink a shot or two (called a doppio) of espresso. I've had the privilege to travel to all 7 continents (Antarctica, South America, North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia) and it's incredibly fascinating to see the differences in coffee culture.

Dangers Being a Barista

The working conditions are fairly good. The only danger is slipping on ice cubes or spilling hot coffee. I've almost spilled a white mocha on a customer when the lid popped off when I was handing it out through a drive thru window, fortunately it just spilled all over my shoes. The customer was very grateful and left a nice tip!

Work Work Work

When I worked as a barista I would work anywhere between 12-39 hours a week, however, because I was going to university while working as a barista most of the time, I'd work an average of about 20 hours a week while going to school. The job is very flexible with your schedule. My responsibilities included helping customers inside the cafe, running a cash register, using the headset to take drive-thru orders, cleaning, heating up food in the oven, creating drinks (hot, iced and blended), connecting with customers and work well with the rest of the team. If you are friendly and have open availability to work, it can be easy to get a job. If you only can work less than 20 hours a week and are available very specific times of the day, it can be harder. When hiring, most cafes look for baristas who can work for at least 6 months to a year.

Barista Pay

The average salary of a barista starting out is a few dollars higher than the minimum wage. In the state of Oregon, Minimum wage is $10.75 an hour, you get a raise each year and you also get a few dollars every hour in cash tips. A person in Oregon could make around $12.50 an hour starting out. Working at Starbucks you also get free drinks, a free drink before your shift, free drink after, and a free food item every shift worked. On top of that, every week you get a free pound of coffee.

5 tips for novice baristas:

1. Do your best to be nice to everyone. Especially those customers that are hard to please, just take it as a challenge to make their day a little brighter.

2. Ask people how they're doing, for real. Sometimes I'd have customers come through drive-thru and by the end of the conversation I'd find out that there best friend had died that morning and how they struggled to get out of the house that day. I was able to give the woman her drink for free, draw a heart on her cup and ask if it was alright to pray for her. She was stunned and heart warmed that I genuinely cared about her, she still has the cup I gave her that morning and we are now good friends.

3. Be silly, people will appreciate it.

4. Make peoples drinks extra special, they'll love it!

5. Help customers understand how you make their favorite drink so they can better customize it!

As featured on the We Project.

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