What is a barista

July 28, 2023 •

4 min reading

What is a barista? And what does the future hold for this career?

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A masterful barista can make the art of brewing coffee appear effortless. While the restaurant industry offers a multitude of job opportunities, there is only one true expert when it comes to coffee and its related beverages—the Barista. This skilled individual, often referred to as a "coffee artist," possesses extensive knowledge of coffee and is proficient in the art of preparation, decoration, and service to customers. 


Anne Spencer once said, Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard.

We’ve put together a simple guide about what a barista is, what to expect from this career path and a handy guide to the different types of coffee.

What is a Barista?

At its simplest, a Barista is someone who makes and/or serves coffee and coffee-based beverages. These can include espresso and drinks made from espresso such as lattes, cappuccino and iced coffee beverages.

A barista is skilled at preparing beverages made from coffee and usually has extensive knowledge of the different types of coffee available from around the world.

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What does a job as a barista look like?

Working as a barista can mean many different things. A barista in a hotel coffee bar may only make and serve basic coffee and espresso drinks while a barista in a full coffee house will often serve other beverages like tea, spritzers and frozen drinks too.

A barista in a coffee shop or cafe may also serve light food like sandwiches, bagels, cake or breakfast items. The job involves working with the public on an almost non-stop basis.

Baristas are experts in their craft, possessing a deep understanding of coffee blends, the art of coffee roasting, the intricacies of operating and maintaining espresso machines, and the delicate skill of frothing milk. These invaluable skills can be acquired through specialized barista courses, where aspiring coffee professionals can unlock the secrets to creating the perfect cup of coffee and master the art of the trade.

Barista is an exciting and varied vocation in the world of Culinary Arts, learn all about what this field has to offer here!


Qualities of a good Barista

1. An advanced knowledge of coffee

A good barista has tasted every type of coffee and has a good palate to discern the different flavors of coffee and be able to adapt recipes according to customer requests.

1. Be a good listener

Since each customer has their own unique take on what makes their perfect cup of coffee, it's important to listen out for special requests like "extra hot", a "double shot", "a syrup shot". 

2. A knowledge of coffee around the world

Barista's who work in a hotel or multicultural city and serve coffee to international clientielle must pay particular attention as there are many different rituals and types of coffee around the world. 

3. Creativity and a steady hand

A skilled barista is also a true artist, known for their mastery of "latte art." They have the ability to create intricate smile-inducing designs on the surface of a cappuccino by skillfully pouring milk foam onto the espresso.

4. Customer Service skills

In addition, possessing excellent customer service skills and being quick on your feet are also key attributes for a successful barista.

5. A good memory

A good barista will be able to remember all the recipes of popular drinks as well as juggle the preparation of multiple coffee orders at once without missing anyone out.

Barista Career Prospects

Career prospects as a barista are varied and exciting. It may be possible to work in a restaurant, cafe, coffee shop or hotel. Plus, in many large cities there are gourmet coffee carts that need skilled workers too.

This is a job that can be done from anywhere around the world including huge cities and small towns.

Coffee also represents a great entrepreneurial ventur, since the set-up costs for a coffee truck are minimal and mark-up can be high if done carefully. 

Coffee Industry Outlook

As part of the food and beverage industry, the outlook for this career is much the same as other jobs in this field.

According to research, the global coffee market size was valued at USD 120.59 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 182.63 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.72% during the forecast period (2022-2030). 

Zippier research found that in the U.S. the projected barista job growth rate is 14% from 2018-2028. They also found that Barista salaries have increased 24% in the last 5 years - ker-ching!

As you can see, a career as a barista can be quite interesting and holds prospects for today and in the future.

Coffee Types Chart


Written by

Lecturer of Practical Arts teaching Mixology, Coffee Training, and Kegged cocktails at EHL

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