10 Things You Must Know Before You Decide to Be a Barista

Thinking about becoming a barista? It’s a great job for coffee lovers, but there’s more to it than just making a good cup of coffee.

You’ll need to learn about coffee beans, perfect your milk frothing technique and master the espresso machine. Plus, customer service is key – you’ll be working with people all day.

It’s not just about coffee; it’s also about creating a positive experience for customers. Understanding the importance of food hygiene is crucial too, as a food hygiene certificate online might be required.

Let’s dive into the top things you need to know before starting your barista journey.

1. Understanding Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are the foundation of any good cup of coffee. They come from the seeds of the Coffea plant and are classified into two main types: Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica beans are known for their smooth, complex flavours, while Robusta beans have a stronger, more bitter taste. Understanding these differences is crucial for any aspiring barista.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Arabica Beans: Smooth flavour, grown at high altitudes, more expensive.
  • Robusta Beans: Strong and bitter, higher caffeine content, cheaper.
  • Single-Origin vs. Blends: Single-origin beans come from a single location, offering unique flavours, while blends combine beans from different regions to create a balanced taste.

“Good coffee is like good wine; it’s all about the beans.” – Expert Barista, Jane Doe

2. Mastering the Espresso Machine

The espresso machine is the heart of any coffee shop. Mastering this complex piece of equipment is essential for creating high-quality drinks and becoming a successful barista.

Components of an Espresso Machine:

  • Portafilter: The handle that holds the ground coffee.
  • Group Head: The part where water is forced through the coffee.
  • Steam Wand: Used for frothing milk.
  • Boiler: Heats the water to the correct temperature.

“Using an espresso machine is like driving a manual car—you need to understand every part to get the best performance.” – Carlos Ruiz, Barista Trainer

Steps to Make the Perfect Espresso:

  1. Grind the Coffee: Using fresh beans, grind to a consistency similar to table salt.
  2. Dose and Tamp: Measure out 18-20 grams of coffee, level it, then press firmly with a tamper.
  3. Extraction: Lock the portafilter into the group head and start the extraction. Aim for 25-30 seconds for a double shot.
  4. Serve Immediately: Espresso should be served straight away to preserve its flavour and crema.

Pro Tips:

  • Clean the portafilter and group head regularly.
  • Use filtered water to avoid scale buildup.
  • Always preheat the cups.

3. Perfecting Milk Frothing

Frothing milk is an essential skill for any barista, providing the silky texture necessary for lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites. Achieving the perfect “microfoam” can elevate your coffee drinks and enhance the customer experience.

Steps for Frothing Milk:

  1. Choose the Right Milk: Whole milk creates the richest foam, but non-dairy options like oat, almond, or soy milk can also be frothed successfully.
  2. Purge the Steam Wand: Always release a bit of steam beforehand to ensure any water condensation is cleared.
  3. Position and Angle: Submerge the steam wand slightly below the surface of the milk at a slight angle.
  4. Stretch the Milk: Lower the jug to introduce air into the milk until it grows in volume.
  5. Heat and Spin: Once the milk is aerated, submerge the wand deeper to heat the milk while spinning it, creating a smooth texture.
  6. Stop and Serve: Turn off the steam when the jug becomes too hot to touch comfortably.

“Perfecting milk frothing is an art; it takes patience and practice to master the silky texture” – Emma Johnson, Coffee Artisan

Tips for Microfoam:

  • Use cold milk and a chilled pitcher.
  • Avoid large bubbles; aim for a paint-like consistency.
  • Practice with water and a drop of dish soap to simulate milk frothing without waste.

4. Customer Service Skills

As a barista, you’ll be interacting with customers throughout your shift. Excellent customer service can set you apart from others. Smile, make eye contact, and be proactive in assisting customers.

As Emily Johnson, a seasoned barista, puts it, “Creating a personal connection with your regulars can turn a one-time visitor into a loyal customer.”

Customer Service Tips:

  • Always greet your customers warmly.
  • Be patient and listen to their needs.
  • Offer recommendations based on their preferences.

5. Maintaining Hygiene Standards

Hygiene cannot be overlooked in the coffee-making process. Acquiring a food hygiene certificate online is often a requirement and demonstrates your commitment to cleanliness.

According to the Food Standards Agency, maintaining high hygiene standards reduces the risk of contamination and ensures the safety of both staff and customers.

“Achieving a food hygiene certificate online is straightforward and ensures you’re prepared to meet safety standards,” says Claire Simpson, food safety expert.

Hygiene Best Practices:

  • Regularly clean and sanitise equipment.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Keep work surfaces tidy.

6. Time Management

Working in a busy café requires excellent time management skills. You’ll often need to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, from making coffee to cleaning the station and restocking supplies.

Efficient time management ensures everything runs smoothly, keeping your customers and co-workers happy.

7. Adapting to Trends

The coffee industry is always evolving with new trends. Whether it’s cold brew, oat milk lattes, or the latest brewing techniques, staying updated will help you stay relevant and meet customer demands.

8. Building a Portfolio

If you’re passionate about being a barista, consider building a portfolio of your work. Take photos of intricate latte art you’ve created or document any unique coffee blends you’ve developed.

This can be a valuable tool if you decide to apply for positions at high-end coffee shops or participate in barista competitions.

Portfolio Tips:

  • Highlight unique skills and specialties.
  • Include customer testimonials.
  • Share on social media platforms to attract followers and potential employers.

9. Continuing Education

The coffee industry offers numerous opportunities for continued learning, from advanced barista courses to coffee tasting workshops. Investing in continued education can enhance your skill set and open up career advancement opportunities.

10. Networking

Build connections with other baristas, coffee shop owners, and industry professionals. Networking can lead to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorships.

Attend coffee festivals, join barista groups, and engage in online coffee communities to expand your network.

“Networking in the coffee industry helps you stay informed and inspired,” says Lucas Brown, owner of The Coffee Grindhouse.


Becoming a barista is a rewarding journey that combines creativity, skill, and customer service.

By understanding coffee beans, perfecting technical skills, maintaining high hygiene standards with a food hygiene certificate, and continuously learning, you’ll master the craft and create memorable experiences for your customers.

Ready to become a coffee expert? Enroll in Barista Basics today and start brewing your way to success!