Behind the scenes: what it’s really like working as a barista

Customers don’t often realize how much work goes into being a barista and, let’s be honest, they also think it’s an easy occupation, since hospitality is the go-to sector for first-time jobseekers. There’s nothing simple about being a barista, however, and if you look at our recap of a typical day in the life of a barista below, you can see why.


Before opening

Most days, the work of a barista starts when it’s still dark outside. In order to open and be ready to meet the rush hour’s demand, baristas arrive at the coffee shop about an hour early. After changing into an apron, they switch on the machinery and set the tables, then they tidy up the counter to hit the ground running when customers start coming in: take-away cups and ceramic ones are lined up, food is placed on trays and the fridge is stocked with milk.

An important task is to then calibrate the coffee grinder: this step is fundamental to ensure that the coffee tastes good and is consistent with the standard customers have come to expect. Storage conditions can affect coffee beans, degassing is a common occurrence for example, so it’s important to check the coffee quality is still ok – your café’s reputation depends on it!


During the day

When the door swing open the morning rush will keep a barista busy, it’s peak time for a coffee shop. Things slow down later on, but it’s never too quiet in a café. Taking orders, preparing the beverages and serving coffees of course occupy the majority of a barista’s shift, but on top of that they’ll tidy up the counter, tables and restroom too.


It’s also essential to load and unload the dishwasher, to keep a ready supply of crockery on hand and food needs to be replenished as needed. Not to mention maintaining a good rapport with the clientele, dealing with complaints or requests, customer service is what keeps people coming back, so baristas know it’s important to provide a great experience to all patrons, from those who stay there all day to the ones who only remain 5 minutes.


After closing

When the last customer leaves it’s time to clean the space, mop the floor, load the dishwasher and do all the things necessary for closing the shop for the night. As the demand for coffees wanes in the late afternoon, baristas can already start to tidy up the counter to save time later on. It is also important to clean the coffee machine as residues may cause clogs and other technical problems in the long run, as well as spoil the way coffee tastes the next day.

And of course, work never stops if you’re the owner! Between taxes, insurance and HR, the to-do list is always long. Dexterity, precision, stamina and top-notch people skills are all essential for a barista – if you’re one you can show this article to whoever thinks you’re slacking off, they’ll immediately change their mind, we assure you!