So congratulations are in order, you’ve managed to score your first job as a Barista!  Understandably you might be pretty unsure about what exactly a Barista does on the job and generally what is expected of you.  Well, you have come to the right place, together we are going to go over all of the essential skills, knowledge, and behavior you should know to start you off right and put you in a good place to really succeed. So why not start with some of this free Barista training.

Top 8 tips to how to be a good Barista:

  1. Show you are passionate about good coffee
  2. Treat your new job with respect
  3. Build relationships with your clientele
  4. Provide an excellent and professional level of service
  5. Know your craft and make a beverage worth spending money on
  6. Be clean, presentable and safe to everyone around you
  7. Respect your fellow baristas
  8. Continue learning to strive for excellence
Coffee shop espresso coffee machine
Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Demonstrate that you care about being there

Making yourself valuable right from the start gives them all the more reason to want to keep you employed. This includes showing that this is the job you want to have and it excites you to be there.  Demonstrate through your actions that you are remembering and applying the training they are giving you.  Go through the steps and procedures explained to you and remember to repeat it back to them and ask questions. 

Getting the coffee right takes skill, make that pride in your work a part of your passion and share that feeling with your customers.  They will walk away with not only a good cup of coffee but a whole experience when they drink it.


No task is below you”

It is important for your coworkers to depend on you, you should be open to take on any task.  Some jobs you may not want to do, however it is important to be a team player.  These types of jobs include lifting heavy boxes and cleaning difficult messes. Your coworkers have spent a lot of time doing those same jobs so don’t shy away from them so they respect you and see you as a contributing member of the team and not dead weight.

Be on time

Even though you might come in late and nobody seemed bothered by it, someone is noticing and starting to remember.  Be respectful to others and the job itself by showing up at the appropriate time.

This is extremely important for maintaining your employment (and getting good shifts).  The people you work with depend on each other for showing up on time, if not then others will have to pitch in extra to cover for lazy people.  This does not bode well long term and others will start to resent you for it.

Have a positive and good attitude

You in the front line with customers and that means having a good inviting attitude so everyone can have a good experience being there.  It keeps the customers coming back and reflects very well on the establishment making you a valuable team member.

Don’t come to work displaying any personal issues or wanting to make them part of the workplace through attitude or conversation.  With coworkers or especially the customer.  Keep it professional and positive through doing a good job.


Build relationships and treat customers with respect.

Being able to have a brief conversation with your barista is part of the culture, the social aspect of coffee has been a natural part of its rich and vibrant history.  Strive to build and foster a good relationship with your customers.

Make eye contact with them at least once during your interaction, even if it gets really busy.

No matter how you may feel about a certain customer, everyone has the right to purchase a coffee at the shop.  Always remain respectful and professional. 

Create organic conversations and not pre-fabricated ones, treat everyone as an individual.  If you are using the same scripted questions and topics for everyone, people will pick up on it and will avoid engaging because you will not seem authentic.

Remember people’s names and the type of drink they usually order.  Greeting them as they come in by name really makes them feel special and welcomed, also it makes them look good in front of others.  

Some examples:

“Good morning Paul!  The usual double espresso or something different today?”

“Hi Sarah!  Good to see you again, would you like me to get started on your cappuccino or do you fancy something else?”

If you can remember something about them and keep a dialog going it will go a long way and they’ll keep coming back.  Create and nurture those connections.  That being said, not everyone likes to chat it up, you have to learn how to read people, many clients will find they have the ideal experience if they come in and out quickly holding a really great tasting beverage.

Regardless of the type of client, they are the important person in your interaction, make them feel like it.

Always confirm the usual order from a regular

Even if the customer always orders the same thing, you never know if that day they are there feeling like something else.  Just a quick friendly check in with them asking “the usual?” ensures they are getting what they want.  You don’t want the customer to feel like when they go to your establishment they are trapped to having the same thing everytime.

Coffee shop barista skills
Photo by Crew on Unsplash


Get the drink order right the first time

Make sure you get into the habit of repeating the drink order back to the customer to confirm with them and yourself.  If you don’t and get the drink order wrong, double check and confirm again before making them a fresh new one.  They may be upset but it happens sometimes, try to connect with them in a friendly manner and be sure their beverage is worth waiting for.

“Move with a sense of urgency and purpose”

When you get an order, proceed efficiently and quickly.  The customer may be in a hurry so do not putter around, act like their time is valuable. 


Get to know the coffee you are selling

A customer may ask you what the difference between certain coffees are, how did one of them get their name or what region the beans are from.  You may not know the answer and that is ok, ask one of your coworkers to help you out and work your way to learning as much as you can.  Once you get the hang of it get excited to share this information, this will resonate with the customers who are interested and they will feel more connected to what they are drinking.  This connection will translate from being connected to their beverage to being connected to you and the establishment, next thing you know, you have a new regular.

Don’t act better than they are about coffee knowledge

Don’t be frustrated when a customer shows ignorance about the specifics about how a coffee is made or ordered.  It’s a complicated world so help them through it.  It will not be obvious to them how many shots go into a small to large size, or what proportions are in a certain drink (different shops have slightly different ratios anyway).  Be supportive and informative, it’s not their jobs to know it, it’s yours. 

Focus on the quality of beverage and service

It is your job to make a high quality drink for your customer, they are paying for a certain standard.  Rushing and making a bad drink will not be useful, make sure you take the proper time to produce a beverage worth paying for, or else their money will go somewhere else.  

Quality of service will range from customer to customer and how busy the shop is.  Some customers will appreciate when you take the time to make a beautiful latte art and engage in conversation, others will better appreciate the speed at which they can be on their way with a quality beverage.  As you get to know each customer you can tailor the best experience for them to have while they are there. If the shop is very busy, it is important to make sure every person is still respected and taken care of.

Taste the differences

It’s important to know what you are serving and how to improve it, so being a coffee drinker helps a great deal.  Having a passion for the quality of taste helps you push your own standards to excellence.  During the less busy times, ask your manager if you can gradually start tasting the different drinks they serve, starting with the most popular ones.

Keep your standards high and consistent

With every cup, you produce for each customer, make it your best.  Know and practice the exact ratio of coffee to water, the precise temperature, and the best accuracy of your pour.  From the start to the end, keep up the quality, do not take shortcuts and be consistent. 

Continue to strive for this for everyone and people will know that when they come to you, they know they are going to get the best drinking experience.  

Know your cup sizes and the ratio of espresso shots

Every shop is a little bit different when it comes to the size of the cups they are offering.  Specialty coffee shops attract clients that are specific with their coffee, they may want to know how many ounces are in each size cup you are offering.  For example, learn to associate that a small is 12 ounces with 1 ounce of espresso if that is your shop’s standard.  Learn the ratio for the other sizes as well.

Don’t overdo the latte art

It may be tempting to really dive into and get flamboyant with the latte art, please don’t as a beginner. Stick to the basics and push on through the order in a timely manner.  As time goes on you could start to do small increments of improvements in your presentation, for the meantime, you do not want to give the customer your experimental screw-ups.  It all comes back to providing consistent quality of service and beverage.  

Espresso coffee machines
Photo by Crew on Unsplash


Always leave your spaces clean

Keeping the place clean is a constant job and duty in a coffee shop.  Wherever you may be, see what you can do to make it cleaner, wipe spots where you see them and especially put garbage away.  Clean the space better than how you found it.  This applies to behind the bar and the customer space.

Respect the Machinery

Take care of the machine you use, they are expensive and costly to fix.  Make sure you wipe off your steam wand right away and purge the steamer.  Don’t leave used grounds inside or around the machine.  Pay attention to instructions from the person training you and ask if there are any behaviors specific to the machines in the shop.  Unfortunately, the machine may not be in top shape already so be careful you don’t make it worse.

Present with cleanliness

Do not put your finger in the cup when carrying it, wipe off any table spills that could be in a customer’s way, and always clean up garbage lying around.  Be clean and presentable yourself so be mindful of your appearance.  Please cover up any injuries, rashes, burns or skin irritations, customers do not want to see stuff like that go near what they are going to be drinking from.

You are responsible for the customer being in a clean space.

Use the handle

Please use the handles on the cups rather than grabbing the cup itself.  There is a whole community of people online who mock and are terrified of baristas that place their fingers all over the cup they’ll be putting their lips on.

Some customers can be very particular about keeping away from germs and generally germaphobic.  Respect this and handle their cup with care and don’t put your fingers anywhere near the lip of the cup.

Don’t be a Tasmanian devil, use caution.

Be aware of your surroundings and when you move around, do so efficiently.  Coffee shops can get very busy behind the counter, you do not want to rush away from the cash register and bump into another Barista holding a very hot beverage.

Move with purpose and leave areas clean; be mindful at all times and you will have a safe shift.

Be careful with the steam wand

The commercial steam wands used in coffee shops gets way hotter and faster than something you may be used to using a machine designed for home use.  Be careful when first starting to use it.


Give back change to customers close to the tip jar

Besides providing a great experience and a quality beverage to customers which already encourages tipping. Another simple strategy is to seal the deal by giving their change back over or very close to the tip jar.  That is the right time for them to make a decision when they have leftover money in hand.  Your coworkers will appreciate it too.


Take it to the next level

Keeping to the basics of your barista craft is something that will always be important.  Once you have the basics understood and mastered, start your journey in seeking new information you can bring to the shop.  There are a lot of new techniques, discoveries, and facts about coffee that are always coming out.  Stay up to date and gradually be a barista influencer to the people around you.