If you love the earthy smell of coffee beans and the early morning bustle and activity of your neighborhood coffee shop, you might be interested in becoming a barista. Far from a boring ‘desk job,’ becoming a barista offers tons of opportunities for those with a friendly, outgoing attitude and strong attention to detail. As much art as it is science, the world of artisan coffee brewing offers truly rewarding careers that can take you all over the world, while doing work you love and enjoy.
The first step in becoming a barista is getting a coffee education. Few people realize what a complex product, and process, coffee truly is. The coffee bean is very similar to wine in that the climate and geography of the locations in which it is grown leave an indelible effect on the flavor and experience of the coffee brewed. Just as the wine industry needs sommeliers to provide pairing suggestions and tasting notes, the coffee industry will pay good money to those trained in the subtleties and nuance of coffee.
When seeking training, you have many options available to you. You are likely to find schools in your area that will give you hands-on practice of coffee techniques, as well as industry contacts. Alternatively, you can attempt to get hired without getting the proper training, or you can take internet barista courses for the training you need. While many training options exist, there is no substitute for being trained by an experienced barista. Here are a few reasons why it is best to learn barista skills from the professionals.
It seems enticing to simply get hired at a coffee shop and receive paid or on-the-job training, however this rarely happens. The barista labor market can be quite competitive, and companies will nearly always choose certified candidates over un-certified candidates so they do not have to bear the cost of training. Since our economy is still in a state of recovery, your chances of getting hired without training from a good school are fairly low. And since classes are not terribly expensive, you can easily get the training you need, find a job, and within a few weeks the courses will have paid for themselves.
Internet courses can be completed at home and are very convenient, but are generally held at a lower standard by professionals and coffee shop managers. The reason for this is that much of a barista’s job involves techniques that just cannot be matched by internet training. Many of the coffee-making techniques you will be using, such as steaming milk, grinding beans, working with espresso equipment, and creating foam art, require hands-on practice to master. For this reason it is imperative that you be trained by an experienced professional who can guide you in perfecting your technique.
Finally, most jobs are awarded based on networking. When a company seeks to hire a new employee, the candidate that receives the job offer is often the friend or former colleague of an existing employee or manager. When you attend a barista school, you will place yourself in the midst of seasoned industry veterans who have a wealth of industry contacts. In fact, many barista schools also have a job placement service for graduates. Attending barista school is hands down the best way to go from coffee enthusiast, to professional working barista in as little as a few days.