A barista is a person who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. A skilled barista has knowledge of the entire process of coffee preparation, including knowledge of where the coffee beans are grown, coffee plant cultivation, coffee grinding and roasting methods, as well as the art involved in preparing a good cup of coffee.
A barista has a menu of various coffees and might suggest or recommend certain coffees, providing more information on the taste and strength and texture of each type. Between serving customers, a baista clears and cleans the counters, replenishes supplies and sets up the service station for future customers. The work is physically demanding, as it involves standing for long periods.
No specific high school requirements are needed to enter this career, with many baristas learning their trade on the job. Formal training is available at barista schools that offer courses in coffee making. Ranging from a 1-day introduction to a 5-day professional course, the modules cover coffee types and brewing methods. The advanced courses teach you about advanced brewing methods, espresso machine setup and calibration, espresso extraction, milk stretching, latte art and more. Barista courses at reputable schools are accredited by the Specialty Coffee Association of South Africa.
Shaker Barista School
Ciro Coffee Academy
International Hotel School
Why did you choose to become a barista?
I wouldn’t say I chose to be a Barista; it came about because of limited opportunities after I finished my studies. But I grew to love it and I have zero regrets about what I do.
What training did you undergo?
I did a short barista training course at Origin Coffee in Cape Town.
Describe a typical day
The day usually starts with a morning rush, as customers stop by to quickly pick up our breakfast and bagel special before they head off to work. We also get orders from Uber Eats and OrderIn throughout the day. In the afternoon, we mostly get orders for our main menu meals, but as they say, coffee knows no weather, so it is a favourite in the afternoon too.
What do you enjoy most?
Making good coffee, pushing sales and offering the best service every day. Seeing customers happy is what brings joy to me. Being a barista has given me lots of friends – my motto is: “Beyond coffee towards making everyone family at the bakery”.
What don’t you like?
Working under pressure gives me a whole lot of stress and I make more mistakes. So, I’ve trained myself to multitask and work fast and smart. When I’m working under pressure, sometimes my temper gets tested, but I always manage my anger – thankfully, a skill I acquired back in Varsity.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
Being mentioned by various clients and them making referrals to their families and relatives to come to Dolce and request their coffees to be specifically made by me.
What are your future goals?
I’d like to start a business that involves working with people and growing to be a giant in the service industry through providing high quality products and services.
Is there a type of personality best suited to being a barista?
Yes, you need to be punctual, patient, calm and more of an extrovert than an introvert – you’ll be dealing with people and you have to entertain them while they’re waiting for their coffee. My goal is for people to come to the bakery because they enjoy talking to me, not just to get good coffee. I see that as an important factor; there are plenty of places that sell good coffee, but who’s making the coffee? It’s important to be unique in terms of how you treat your clients and interact with them.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Being a barista is something that people take lightly, but it’s one of the best and most interesting jobs for learning about people and the world. To those starting this journey, you have to stay focused and never be afraid of failing, because making mistakes and finding solutions to correct them is what makes people successful.
Your job in four words
Making coffee brings family!