What is a Café Barista?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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A cafe barista is a person who works in a coffee shop. He or she either has experience preparing all types of coffee or learns on the job — depending on the cafe owner's preference in hiring baristas. The word barista is Italian; it means a worker at a coffee bar. Baristas may work in large coffee shops with a street entrance or in smaller stores inside a shopping mall. A combination store such as bakery/bistro or bookstore/coffee shop is also likely to hire a barista.

People who work as baristas are generally expected to be outgoing and communicative with customers as well as staff. Customer service skills as well as an excellent ability to make coffee to order are crucial qualities for a cafe barista to have. Baristas also need to learn new things quickly, as they're expected to make each drink item according to the establishment's exact requirements. Consistency is important in food service since customers expect quality and the same flavor each time they order favorite foods or drinks.


Most coffee shops offer hot and cold coffee-based beverages. Espresso is a common addition to many coffee drinks and is also served on its own sweetened with sugar. Espresso is a strong Italian coffee made with finely ground coffee beans. Cafe latte is made with espresso and steamed foamy milk. A cafe barista also commonly makes and serves cappuccino, which is espresso with foamy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and whipped cream.

Cafe baristas also usually prepare and serve a black tea called chai. Chai is of Indian origin and is a black tea with steamed milk added. Most coffee shops also have herbal teas available for customers. They also typically serve frappes, which are different varieties of iced coffee that may also contain fruit. Baristas may also prepare fruit smoothies made with ice cream.

A cafe barista may scoop ice cream in dishes or cones and prepare light salads or sandwiches. Heavier meals or extensive cooking is not found in most coffee shops. Premade cookies, cakes, pastries and dessert bars are common accompaniments available for sale with the different flavored coffees that cafe baristas make and serve.

Good teamwork is expected by cafe baristas. They're expected to cooperate with co-workers to provide the best customer service possible. Besides making and serving drinks, a barista may also promote new products to customers in the store. A cafe barista is often required to handle customer cash and make change. Bagging orders to take out is another common barista task.


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