How to become a barista

If you want to apply for any kind of a barista job - it's a matter of time. Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero will take anyone on board. Without experience. But a Specialty Barista is much different.

I tried hard. I sent hundreds resumes. I've been invited to an interviews. Eventually I settled down with non-specialty cafe. Minimum wage, no standards at all. The interviewer was surprised to see I'm passionate about coffee.

6 months of applying later
I was still trying.
A phone interview in foreign language is not a piece of cake for somebody afraid of phone calls. (Yes, me)

This call could change my life. Like in this song:

Fortunately I was excited enough to fluently describe my experience, knowledge and passion.

The day I met one of the best coffee people in UK remains the best day in my life. It was better than winning a lottery. I've never been more happy the day I could leave the job I hated and started doing something I love.

No experience?
It is possible to get a specialty barista job without experience. There are some keypoints:

1. Learn on your own
If you're passionate about something you can show it with theory. Alternative brewing methods, cultivars, WBC routines. Read a book about coffee. Attend a coffee event or training session. Cuppings! You can do it at home.

Invest your time and money to learn as much as you can. It will pay off.

2. The right company
In theory a passionate cover letter would always get you a job. But without relevant experience (1 year in specialty coffee) it will stretch your patience. Keep in mind that many cafes are small and have no training abilities. Though it's always worth trying. There are a few with a complete program and plenty of "we could possibly train you". Anyway, make sure the training investment will pay.

3. Master applying skills
Start here (but don't limit yourself). Take time to craft a cover letter and CV, it will come with experience - learn how to do it. Research the company (all social media, preferably 2 years back - like a decent stalker). Get a grab of speaking skills (Toastmasters!). And go and order their coffee yourself.

4. Don't give up
I've sent an application to one company 3 times and I tried even after the failed interview. Yet presume that if you were rejected on interview, they wouldn't like to hear from you again.

Be aware that recruiters usually read only first 10-15 applications. I got the phone call after second e-mail.

The specialty industry is small. If you're lucky to live in London - it's 200 companies. 80% of them look only for experienced people. But, if you're determined to work in the industry you can do it. Basic knowledge, passion and consequence will take you there. Maybe in a month, maybe in a year. Just keep on trying.

Photo - Ed Gregory, CC0


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