What is a barista?
Or rather, who is a barista? It won’t be far off the point if I say that they are the ones who save the day, every day.
They are the ones who people rush to every morning for their half-caf skinny latte with no whip, or a grande latte, skinny, half-caf. Or if you want a half de-caf with mocha, or maybe a venti no-fat latte, depending upon your mood, your barista will deliver.
There are many, many other varieties of which you may not even have heard. Barista is an Italian term which in that language means a bartender, but they are not the ones who assist in getting you drunk and cloud your mind, rather they invigorate you, kicking you at any time of the day!
The barista job description includes preparation and serving of espresso-based coffee drinks. This is no ordinary job.
Barista coffee, or espresso-based coffee, usually contains ‘crema’ which is the reddish foam on the top, which, combined with the espresso, gives it its customary strong flavour and aroma.
It is a sign of a well-grounded coffee and a skilful barista to create a particular blend to suit several factors, such as customer requirements etc.
The coffee culture in Australia is not limited to classy beaches and the funky inner cities cafes but has also expanded across country towns, and across most of the cities.
Do you know how much we love our coffee? Enough to consume about 2.9 kg per capita in a year; an exponential growth considering that it was only 0.6 kg about 50 years ago. This is compounded by the fact that the climate is just ideal for an outdoor retreat on the streets, parks or the beaches to savour your cup of coffee.
In many countries, it is tea that forms the backdrop of people’s social activities. But I must say, making a cup of tea is not half as much complicated as coming up with a good brand of espresso, nor does it require so much expertise and techniques, or advanced machines that are needed for the extraction of espresso.
Baristas are the experts in various types of coffee beans from different regions to make that perfect blend that makes your day.
They also have to deliver on the customer relation front, educating the clientele on the varieties available in the shop, and providing for them an overall pleasant experience that will make them keep coming back to the same coffeehouse, or pub, and think of it as a second home.
They also have to restock the inventory as and when needed. Cleaning the tables, kitchen, the espresso machine and floor might also be an additional part of their daily chores.
This all depends on the type of employer you are working for and what expectations he may have from you. Phew! Who thought being a barista would be so tough!
The hospitality industry has excellent prospects in Australia and around the world, thanks to the opportunities created by the increasing tourism culture, which has become a global phenomenon.
Chinese tourists contribute to the highest number of tourists all across the world. This has lead to more people managing the influx in terms of accommodation, recreation and hotels, and creating more vacancies for baristas, in Australia, or any other country.
What training and courses do I need to be a barista in Australia?
After hearing the job mentioned above description, it should come as no surprise that you may need extensive experience, as well as training and certifications to make headway in the specialty coffee industry, and to polish your skills as a barista.
The coffee training may not be necessary, but it certainly gives you an edge in a booming industry in a country that is so fussy about its coffee.
Although Melbourne is the forefront of the coffee revolution in Australia, other regions are fast catching up. For them, it’s not just a cup quickly gulped, but an overall experience.
The industry is expected to keep growing by 2.6 annually for the next five years, so the opportunities are great, but so are the requirements!
If you’re still taking this lightly, you should know that even Starbucks couldn’t overtake the Australian coffee industry, where locals have developed their tastes to the point where even a slight imperfection is a big no-no. Most growers have world-class qualifications, also in Adelaide.
With this sort of competition you surely don’t want to lag, it is an absolute imperative!
So here are just a few of the places where you can start out adding to your barista skills and gain accredited or non-accredited training:
If you want a TAFE qualification, the Barista Basics Coffee Academy is one of the coffee schools that seem to be an excellent route to take for this purpose. It is also an only Registered Training Organisation that is devoted to coffee training.
Both Barista Basics Coffee Academy and Australian Barista School offer barista courses and fall under the umbrella of the prestigious CBD College. The list of the courses provided includes not just a straightforward coffee making course, but also supplementary skills to make you an all-rounder coffee maker/organiser/host.
Here is a summary of the courses:
|Barista Basics Coffee Academy||Barista Basics Mk1||3hrs||$120||• Key ingredients
• Mixing speeds for taste
• Hygiene practices
|Barista Basics Coffee Academy||Master Barista Mk1 & Mk2||5hrs||$199||• Key ingredients
• Mixing speeds
• Hygiene practices
• Coffee making
• Milk texturing
• Coffee Art e.g.: etching, fudge art and free pouring
|Australian Barista School||Barista Course National||3hrs||$75||• Froth making
• Operate coffee machine
• Cleaning and Maintaining the machine
• Develop expertise in the various types of coffee found in Australian cafes
|Australian Barista School||Accredited Barista Course||5hrs||$120||• Preparing and serving espresso
• Extensive coffee art
• Hygiene practices
With this training, you are a step closer to being a full time or a part-time barista at your favourite café. The options are endless, which means you can keep on acquiring new skills and taking new courses to add to your existing knowledge and skills continually.
The choice of working full-time or part-time is up to you, but the majority of baristas seem to be working for an hourly wage, which suits them just as well, and in some cases, pays more than the full-time routine.
What qualifications can I get in Australia?
As mentioned above, the completion of these courses leads to certifications that prove your worth as either a beginner or an expert. I will make a list of certifications that you can opt for depending on your location, interest and budget.
|Professional Barista Course||Coffee School||$99||• SITHFAB204 Prepare and Serve Espresso Coffee|
|Master Barista||Barista Basics Coffee Academy||$199||• SITXFSA101 Use hygienic practices for food safety
• nationally and internationally recognized TAFE Statement of Attainment; unit SITHFAB204 Prepare and serve espresso coffee
|Espresso Machine Operation||TAFE Queensland South West||$410||• SITHFAB204 Prepare and Serve Espresso Coffee
• SITXFIN201 Process Financial Transactions
• SITXCCS303 Provide service to customers
• SITXFSA101 Use hygienic practices for food safety
|Barista Training Course level 1&2||John Doyle’s barista training facility at Sandringham||$350||• Certificate of attendance|
These courses and barista certificates are not exclusive to certain institutes. They can also be completed at the many training organisations spread across Australia at dozens of locations such as Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane or Adelaide or any other city.
The Australian Barista Academy is another coffee school that offers a course that focuses entirely on the ingredients and their preparation and develops the palate to recognise and savour subtle differences.
The course is aptly named ‘Sensory Skills and Coffee Knowledge’. The significant features of this course include:
- Home country of the coffee bean and its impact
- Processing and roasting
- Equipment and the effect it has on the tang of coffee.
Costing $190 and lasting 2.5 hours, this course is for those who want to become experts in the range of flavours that can be put on the table, and to be able to differentiate between tastes of coffee made through different procedures.
Another different course, in that it focuses on the machine rather than coffee ingredients and coffee art, is the ‘Fundamentals of Manual Brewing’ which teaches you how to smartly handle the following equipment in terms of the brew ratio, parameter and subsequent result on the coffee flavour:
- Hario V60
- Clever Coffee Dripper
This should help you gain a firm footing commercially in terms of a sound knowledge of how the brewing process alters the result.
Another course that is specially tailored to ensure that coffee-making is more of a career, rather than treat it as just a hobby, or a domestic skill, is the Workflow and Troubleshooting Course.
The course highlights include:
- The scenarios where things could go wrong and how to handle them
- Steaming milk as regards particular demand or order
- Best practice methods; and the current improvements and trends in the coffee market
- The practice of working in an organised and timely manner by simulating a cafe situation
- The regular cleaning and maintenance of the espresso machine
Costing $190, and lasting 3.5 hours, the most likeable feature of this Australian Barista Academy course is that it prepares you to be competent at your workplace, because no matter how polished your coffee skills might be, to be a real barista, you need to shine at the workplace and be a thorough professional.
Still, think ethical coffee making is all about the machine and raw ingredients? Think again! It’s more about the coffee maker, that being the barista.
How much does a barista get paid?
First of all, let’s get this clear: not all barista jobs are the same. Some require you to be very experienced and to have the know-how of different flavours, and to taste various samples for testing.
You may be required to do some cleaning and restock inventory. You may need to froth the milk and brew the coffee and decorate it for the clients by displaying some creative flair and artwork.
On the other hand, you may be the machine operator who fills the coffee mug. Based on this, the median barista salary is $17 per hour, but the hourly rate can vary from $12 to $21.
The yearly average comes to a whopping $37,000.
Influence of experience on national average:
|Experience level||Pay Per Year|
|Entry level/early stage||$35,890|
|Late career/highly experienced||$41,440|
Many people stay in this field for 5 to 10 years, after which they have sufficient experience and savings to start up on their own. There are many courses for café starters as well.
|Master Café Management||Barista Basics Coffee Academy||Sydney||$299||Part 1: 3hr|
Part 2: 2hr
Part 3: 3hr
|Café startup workshop||Home Barista Institute||Melbourne||$895||9hrs||No|
|Starting a Café or restaurant workshop||Profitable Hospitality||Sydney||$229||6.5hrs||No|
|Café Management Course (online)||Australian Business Courses||Online||$290||1-2 months||No|
|Café Management||TAFE, NSW||Ryde||$600||30hrs||Yes|
|Café Management||Sydney Coffee Academy||Sydney||$600||1 week||Yes|
Furthermore, due to the expected growth in the industry coupled with increasing customer awareness, the need for well trained and qualified baristas, who are highly specialised in their fields, may increase.
Many shop owners look for people who can adapt to customer demands and adjust the coffee-making process down to the minute detail. They turn down people who have limited experience and cannot deal with fussy customers.
In Australia, coffee is a whole social experience, and you can’t just ruin it for people, so training are a valid assurance that you are qualified to deal with this.
Conclusion: Time for an Espresso Coffee
Now that we’ve obtained all the details (and hopefully had a cup or two of coffee) we get right down to the main reason for being a barista and making so many efforts.
Why be a barista when you can be anything else? Why the hospitality industry only? And what will it do for you?
Most of all, why make such a big deal about just a cup of coffee? If you think about it, a lot of steps and preparation goes into the making of that simple mouthful or two of espresso. The whole process spanning months of efforts is as follows:
|1) Grow coffee seedling|
|2) Transplant one year old seedling to orchards|
|3) Harvesting the red cherries of coffee|
|4) Extraction of coffee beans from the cherries via dry or wet method|
|6) Milling the coffee beans|
|7) Roasting the green beans to the flavorful and aromatic brwon beans|
|8) Grinding the coffee beans|
|9) Extraction of coffee oils (yes, yes the thing that you drink) from the beans; brewing|
Let’s say that the barista is the forefront of the endeavours that go in picking the best seedling, the ripest beans and the latest grinding, milling and extracting machines, to get the finest coffee to the clients.
He/she, depending upon the employer, and the nature of the job, may be involved in the following processes:
- Select a machine as adept in creating an unprecedented shot of coffee as the barista
- Clean the group and showerhead regularly
- Seal the group before coffee making
- Set the precise temperature for extraction to elicit the proper flavour
- Select the dosage head such that the oils are extracted, but the waste of the bean is left behind
- Set the boiler temperature
- Ensure that allowance is made for pre-infusion
- Ensure the parts are joined correctly
Still, think being a barista is easy? It is nothing short of a science. The training prepares the future barista to execute this, with perfection.
A moment’s lapse makes the difference between a good coffee and a bad coffee. You have to take the time and have the commitment – it takes years of training to be nothing short of perfect at this art.
Over the last 5 years alone, there has been a 34.2 rise in job openings, with the highest number of jobs in New South Wales and Queensland, followed by Victoria and Western Australia.
In 2014 alone, the employment rate in the cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services will increase by 2.6 annually, according to government data. An example of this can be found in the city of Newcastle, a formerly semi-industrial city, where there are numerous cafes owned and started by local coffee lovers.
In Hobart also, you can find the best barista-style cafes like Oomph, with numerous outlets, and a collection of award-winning roasters, baristas, judges of shows, and master trainers who all in all, provide a world-class coffee experience.
Apart from the monetary aspect, being a barista brings the sheer joy of experimenting and creating varieties of flavours, receiving praise (and even tips) from your customers, and delighting everyone by creating magic in the cup (thanks to the latte art class!).
The knowledge gained is excellent, and it becomes their first obsession to know about all things coffee, like the difference that pour-over results in, compared to the French press.
Oh and by the way, at any workplace you might get to meet de-motivated, half-interested people only. Still, usually, an experience in a café behind the counter brings you in touch with people who are as enthusiastic as you about their coffee.
The interaction with both clients and fellow baristas is a source of continuous joy, and daily conversations with your customers will be sure to provide a good laugh.
And after all, isn’t that what being in the hospitality industry is all about? Is it to provide exceptional, efficient service?
It’s all about tending to people’s needs, bringing a smile to their faces, and being top-notch in terms of customer service (and making coffee).
This is your ideal workplace if you love interacting with and meeting people every day. It is also quite the right choice of employment if you have a nomadic lifestyle and you like roaming from one place to the next.
The hospitality industry and cafes need good baristas everywhere, so sometimes it pays to gain experience in one café and then moves on to another, to get a feel of different people, different atmospheres and, of course, different coffee needs and wants.
Oh and don’t forget, should you feel your spirits waning, a cup of coffee is always at your disposal!
Being in the hospitality industry has many perks in this day and age. The industry is rising in Australia and worldwide, and travel and tourism have created the need for more people in hospitality to manage restaurant services, work in theme parks, and cafes and hotels.
This will, in turn, lead to a rise in vacancies in the hospitality arena, particularly, in the food and accommodation areas.
The best news for every barista, waiter, caterer etc. out there is that the café, restaurant and takeaway foods sector dominate, and has the significant number of employment (about 61.6%} of the total food and accommodation group in 2010).
This is not just true for Australia. Across the globe, the hospitality industry has been growing stronger and stronger, with investors highly looking for arenas to exploit in this sector, which boosted in 2013, and is predicted to keep growing. An interview with Adam Weissenberg, Vice Chairman and U.S. Travel, Hospitality and Leisure leader, Deloitte LLP suggests that because there are so many options now available to the tourists and customers, loyalty will come at a premium, and it will be a key focus area to have highly skilled and trained professionals who can help create and enhance the brand experience for customers that will ensure an everlasting loyalty.
So hoteliers, caterers and café owners will, therefore, look for well-educated and experienced personnel, who can deal with multicultural clientele, and thanks to the increasing sophistication of the modern age travellers, which is where all your training comes handy.
Well, hopefully, I have managed to satisfy you that your job will be secure. There are some other gains from being a barista and working in a café in particular, hospitality in general.
After all, money cannot buy everything. Here are a few reasons why hospitality is a high road to go down:-
- It never gets monotonous: each day is a different experience, thanks to the human element of your job. It’s not about machines, cars, or consumer goods. Your end product is a happy customer.
- Creativity: it’s about learning and acquiring skills to add to your work. There are unique challenges in this industry for which you will require a bit of quick thinking, a bit of patience, and a bit of your creativity on the go.
- A global industry, giving you the momentum, the necessary potential and aptitude for working in any country of your choosing.
- Its working hours may be more flexible and negotiable than a typical 9 to 5 job.
- It is totally for you if you love meeting with all kinds of people and engage with them.
- Arranging for your customers to have fun?…you often get to have a share of that as well.
- Work atmosphere fosters friendliness and general happiness (hospitality means “Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests”) which reduces coercion at work.
- Stability; the hospitality industry has survived the worst economic crises that meant doom for other industries and made paupers out of princes.
To summarise all of this in a nutshell, becoming a barista is easy. It does take a lot of hard work and input from you, but luckily, it does not require you to get into a University and study for years on end.
Barista courses are affordable and abundant, and several schools offer the same kind of courses. So it’s your choice where you want to join, depending on the reputation of the school, the cost and where you live.
The strength of the class is also a consideration, as sometimes it is better to have fewer students on board, but sometimes it is better to learn as part of a larger team.
Furthermore, this sector and the hospitality industry, in general, has a bright future, so need to worry about unemployment issues.
Lastly, it is a recommendable investment of both your time and money to take courses and certificates, because this industry will not remain in need of semi-skilled workers for long.
The rise in the standards of local demand, as well as tourists from all parts of the globe who expect the best service will cause future employers to seek, train, and retain the best potential, and the most talented individuals.
So don’t take your barista prospects lightly, because Aussies do take their baristas very seriously!