Outstanding baristas are hard to find, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. They are out there and today’s guide should help you find them, hire them and train them to be an elementary part of your awesome coffee shop.
Your objective goal should be to keep your baristas motivated and passionate about their job, as that is essential in making quality coffee and other products in your coffee shop.
The first step in finding appropriate and quality baristas is knowing how to attract them. Giving interesting titles and not calling your employees “workers” or “help”, makes them feel more appreciated.
It’s true that baristas have a high turn-over rate, simply because many owners hire wrong people. A lot of college students consistently apply for this position and while they can be a short-term solution, if you are looking to build a stable coffee shop, you should avoid hiring them. Most students are there only looking for part-time work until they find something better.
Your goal should be to find people who proudly walk with titles of successful baristas. You should always question their work ethic, their personal motivations and everything that can affect the quality of work they produce.
And to be able to do that, you need to question your business and structure it properly. Understand what is your business all about before you even hire your first employee.
Set up clear expectations that align with your concept and vision.
A mistake that is often made by many coffee business owners is that they try to find baristas when it’s already time for launch. That is utterly wrong because there is no time to train them, get them to know your business, your goals and objectives.
Figuring out what you are looking for
The most important factor in hiring any employee is knowing what qualities you would like to see. As a business owner myself, I was always searching for people who are reliable and honest.
The way I see it is that I’d prefer training someone who doesn’t know much about the job, but possess the human qualities I am looking for, rather than someone who is perfect in what they do but doesn’t have what I am looking for.
The most obvious list of skills and qualities a barista must possess are:
- Communication and people skills
- Passionate about the job
- Open to learn
- Open to suggestion, feedback, and criticism
- Reliability and loyalty
These are absolute necessities you would like to see in someone you hire. Of course, I haven’t listed any of the skills an average barista possess, that are actually related to the job. It’s your duty to hire people of value, and if you are looking for a barista who has previous experience and has worked similar jobs in the past, here are some of the skills he should possess:
- Excellent educator about coffee.
- Leader. He should teach by example.
- Knows how to make cool latte art or he is willing to learn and improve upon this skills.
- Quick on the feet.
This is just the beginning and you are free to add whatever you want on this list. It’s even better when you start adding items to the list because that shows you clearly know what you are looking for when hiring a barista.
It’s about the experience, not only coffee
Even though a professional barista needs to know how to make an excellent cup of coffee, it is a lot more about the experience you offer to your customers. When trying to think of a successful coffee shop, the first company that comes to your mind is probably Starbucks.
They brought the company to highest of all levels, and they provide the ultimate experience any customer can have.
They changed the industry, and not only because they offered a great cup of coffee.
How to do interviews with baristas?
As I have mentioned above, when you are interviewing candidates for the open position of a barista at your coffee shop, you should ultimately assess two things:
- Human qualities
Both are equally important for running a successful coffee shop and the way to determine their skills and qualities is by asking questions and carefully noticing how they respond.
Here are some questions you need to ask your candidates.
Can you show up early and remain positive attitude, no matter what?
Baristas that work early morning shifts often have to start working around 5 am before the rush of traffic comes in at the morning. That means, they should be waking up at 4 am. If a barista candidate you are questioning is not a morning person, that definitely needs to be answered.
Waking up early can be very tough for some people and staying in a good mood might be impossible for someone.
For those who are not morning persons, you should work out an evening shift, instead of forcing them to do work in the morning.
Are you open to learning new things?
Almost every job out there will require for a candidate to learn new things and working as a barista definitely relies on that. Getting to know customers and their likes and dislikes are very important for every barista.
It’s obvious that every customer has their favorite drink and knowing how to make them just the way they like it will improve their experience.
What is extremely important for a barista is to avoid being stubborn. Even though he/she might know how to make a perfect cup of coffee, they need to know how to adapt to customers to provide them the best value. Put your customers first and they will definitely come back.
Are you a likable and communicative person?
All top-level baristas are outgoing and chatty, loves to talk and listen carefully. If a specific candidate is an introvert who avoids too much contact with other people, a position of barista should be filled by someone else.
A barista needs to develop powerful social skills. People need to feel comfortable around them so they feel happy to return.
How flexible are you?
Working out different shifts and fitting in someone else’s schedule are two things baristas must do. So every candidate for this position should be very flexible because that gives you more freedom and less stress when trying to schedule shifts.
How open are you to doing extra work?
Everyone who ever worked as a barista knows that they are not only responsible for serving coffee and other drinks. They often have to deal with cleaning, taking the trash out, wiping tables, sweeping, dealing with supplies etc.
Can you work fast and remain calm?
Every barista must possess a quality to remain calm under stressful situations. If your coffee shop becomes popular and crowded, a barista would have to work fast and remain calm to provide every customer with a good experience. No one likes waiting 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee.
Can you deal professionally with every conflict?
There are a lot of rude customers out there who will be difficult to deal with. That can’t be avoided, it’s just the way it is. A barista needs to remain professional and resolve every conflict a customer creates. He/she should also avoid making conflicts and always be polite and treat every customer with the same amount of respect.
Sometimes this is difficult, and specific personalities are not able to manage and cope with this.
What are the responsibilities of every barista?
There are so many responsibilities a barista needs to handle correctly, so it’s not an easy job and not everyone can do it. Here are some we consider to be essential:
- Being able to prepare a variety of drinks and beverages.
- Possess an ability and judgment to adapt to different situations and make the right calls.
- Successfully preparing one specific drink in more than one way.
- Making sure all the operations are being done correctly.
- Do all the “opening” and “closing” work.
- Being able to closely monitor sales.
- Always be responsible for keeping the positive environment.
- Successfully engage with customers and co-workers.
Many people who are running successful coffee shops will tell you that key to having good baristas is giving them a good training when and if necessary, but it is lot more about their attitudes and personalities.
Baristas who make the most money on the tips are the ones who are obviously the best at what they do. People are happy to tip well if an employee makes great cup of coffee, serves it with respect and keep a positive atmosphere.
That’s all customers really want to see in a barista.