What does it take to be a great barista?
Barista, coffee person…. We all have our own name for the person behind that lovely shiny espresso machine. Have you ever stopped to think what it takes to be a barista???
Years ago when I had nothing to do with the coffee industry, I would pop over to my local café and order a coffee and while it was being made I would observe every step that was going into this amazing beverage that would change my outlook on the day ahead. I realised that it wasn’t a case of just pushing a button and boom!!! It was a technical process that involved some precise steps and adjustments to give your coffee that wow factor.
After being in the industry over the years I look back and realise how baristas are underrated, as it takes some seriously hard work to become a great barista. Let’s take a look and see what it takes to tick the box.
- Passion – This is the fuel that will drive you through the good and bad times. A job that is fuelled by passion never feels like a job, but more like a hobby. Keep the passion strong and this will keep you on the path to success. Set yourself goals and keep in mind what your end objectives are. Without a goal set you will be stuck behind that machine so aim high and use your passion to direct you!
- Customer Service – As a barista we work with people all day every day so we might as well give our best! When you break that barrier and open up to the customer then amazing things start to happen. A new level of respect will be shown to you and suddenly you become the ‘Coffee God’. Stay positive even when obstacles come your way, this will grow you as a barista as well as a person!
- Ask Questions! – Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!!! When you give up an opportunity to ask a question you lose out on finding out the answer. I always encourage baristas to ask as many questions as possible, this will open a stream of questions, which in turn enriches your knowledge. As a barista, you will never stop learning so keep those questions flowing and spend some free time researching as much as you can.
- OCD – I admit, I do kind of have an OCD problem, but I think that’s a good thing. Customers always have their eyes on you so the more you are organised the better. OCD has got everything to do with keeping your station tidy and well organised in order to carry out duties with precise execution. To be a great barista you have to strive to be the best and keep thinking in your mind ‘how can I be better than the rest’.
- Push Your Limits – It’s so sad to see a once passionate barista stuck in a rut. One needs to push the limits and keep exploring different avenues. Coffee is so diverse and you can break it into sectors to keep the spark alive. Practice latte art and challenge yourself, try something new like a different brewing method and see how you can better it. It’s okay to fail because failure just means you are learning along the way.
These are just a few points that are at the top of my list but there are several more that could be added. Being a barista can open so many doors but you must have the right attitude and stick it out and eventually your plans will work out. I always say to the baristas I work with, ‘You have the ability to make or break a person’s day so go ahead and make them an amazing coffee’. This is a great feeling that money can’t buy, or maybe that’s just my belief.
Next month I will be talking about the OCD distributor. This is an amazing tool that has changed my world of espresso.