Increasingly, it has become common for people to seek hourly positions working as baristas when they need income supplement. Even high school students whose allowances come up short and who need just a little extra income are learning all about the fine art of creating coffee drinks many of them haven't even developed a taste for yet. Taking a barista position can allow you to make an above-mininum-wage salary on a part-time, seasonal or full-time basis.
What is a Barista?
A barista is a name for a person who assists customers with their orders, most commonly coffee purchases. The name sources from Italy where they take coffee “mixology” as seriously as the mixing of alcoholic drinks. In America, a barista is commonly a person who specializes in preparing espresso-related coffee drinks, such as lattes. A barista is a skilled employee, not just a clerk, who needs intensive on-the-job training to succeed at this position.
A barista is a customer service professional in that he must interact with customers regularly to get their orders and provide them with requested items. The barista must pay close attention to instructions because missing even one detail could cause him to waste an entire drink, costing the business money. A barista needs to know the exact proportions and recipes for coffee and espresso drinks and must also clean work areas and, in some cases, prepare foods. A barista must know how to work effectively in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment.
Average Hourly Pay
Baristas make a median hourly wage of about $8.74 according to 2009 data from O*NET. The exact hourly pay varies depending on each coffeehouse. When baristas work in high-end busy coffee shops they can make as much as $12 per hour. These wages may include tips earned from customers.
A barista does have an opportunity to advance even though it is a career that requires hourly work. Some baristas gain experience in the business and eventually take positions as supervisors or managers of the coffee business. An experienced barista may take on a more senior role at the shop with a better hourly rate and work as a trainer of new baristas.