Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma is not required to be a barista, although some employers may prefer to hire high school graduates. Classes in family and consumer science teach food preparation, storage, and presentation. Basic math classes are helpful as the job entails handling money, so an understanding of addition, subtraction, and division is useful. Communication skills are needed for the job so be sure to take English and speech classes. Business and accounting classes provide a good foundation for future management positions and business ownership roles. Take a foreign language class also because the ability to communicate in another language can open more doors for employment.
Most baristas receive on-the-job training, which may last from one to two or more weeks. Some vocational schools offer classes on the topic of coffees and teas, including the different types and how to prepare beverages. Restaurant associations sometimes partner with schools or food agencies to offer training, and employers may favor people who have had such training.
Students can find information on associate's, bachelor's, and certificate programs in the food and beverage industry in the Guide to College Programs in Hospitality, Tourism, & Culinary Arts (http://www.guidetocollegeprograms.com), published by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education.
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers a variety of continuing education opportunities for food service workers and managers. For example, its ServSafe Food Handler certificate program offers training in food management and handling, and also cross-contamination and allergens, time and temperature, and cleaning and sanitation. Visit https://www.servsafe.com for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The Barista Guild of America provides voluntary certification to students. They receive instruction in espresso and espresso drink preparation, equipment operation, and customer service. The certification program is in accordance with the standards and best practices of the Specialty Coffee Association. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute offers voluntary certification for food and beverage executives.
Most food service workers, including baristas, are required to obtain health certificates from the state Department of Public Health that certify they are free from communicable diseases, proven by physical examination and blood tests. This is required for the protection of the general public. Many food and beverage service employers also require employees to pass a drug test.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Prior experience working part time at a coffee shop or restaurant is beneficial. The job requires attention to detail and patience in dealing with customers. In some establishments, lines can get long and customers may be difficult. Baristas who stay focused on providing quality beverages and service and who communicate clearly and diplomatically fare the best. Good energy and a pleasant personality help.
The job requires physical stamina as much of the work shift is spent standing and walking. Baristas work with equipment that is located behind or near the counters of coffee shops or near the kitchens of restaurants. They must have clean personal hygiene and their uniform or clothing must also be neat and clean. If they also work at the register, they must have a basic understanding of math to handle payment transactions.