This post was written by, Liz Luveano, a barista at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and also a guest writer for Barista Life. Liz has been an editor for the Daily Titan Newspaper at Cal State University, Fullerton for three years. As the editor, she has edited for AP style and grammar. She also wrote for the Features section over the years. She has written many profiles and previously had a lifestyle column and her own blog. Check her out on Instagram also!
7 Tips for New Baristas
Think about your first day as a barista. For me, I felt like a baby in a big new world. I was curious, excited and scared. I watched as the veteran baristas steamed perfect frothy pitchers of foam and extract shots of espresso. Then I watched as they turned that into a drink to hand off to customers.
It was like magic and soon I would try my hand at it and later I would become like those veteran baristas that I watched on my first day as a barista.
I worked at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for about three years as a barista and later as a shift supervisor. So, here are 7 tips that I’ve compiled and hope you new baristas find them useful!
1. Relax, you’ll get the Groove of Things
- One thing that I have seen with new baristas is that they often freak out early on in their training because they’ve forgotten recipes that they learned from their previous day of training. They see the other barista getting drinks out rapidly and they think “Oh no, I suck and I’m slow.” Relax, new barista. Once you learn it all, you’ll realize that most drinks are similar and making them will become routine.
2. Learn from your Mistakes
- You will make mistakes, it’s inevitable. You will pull the coffee carafe out before the coffee is done brewing. You’ll spill that latte you were just finishing up all over the counter. Take those moments as a learning experience, because even though that veteran barista is giving you a glaring look she’s done it before also. But the most important thing is to learn from those mistakes, realize where things went wrong and move on.
3. Smile at your Co-Workers
- If the other baristas look like they’re silently judging you, they are. You’ll soon learn that being a barista is like being in an exclusive club. We’ve all gone through our training and proved ourselves as worthy baristas. You are new and everyone is trying to determine if you are also worthy. It’s easy to look scared and nervous maybe even annoyed when people are staring to see if you’re about to mess up that drink you’re making, but make a conscious effort to smile. When you come in and when you leave say hello and goodbye to the other baristas. They will appreciate it.
4. It’s not Personal
- Customers will be mean to you. That grouchy man will toss his money at you and will ignore you when you ask him “what size?” That mean lady will roll her eyes and make it clear that she is annoyed and astonished that you had the audacity to ask her to repeat her order. But, just remember that it’s not always you. Unless of course you did mess up various times, more often than not if someone is mean they’re mean in general. It’s not you they hate and are annoyed at, it’s that they are not very nice people in life. When a customer gave me attitude, it would affect my day because I let it get to me, I took it personal. Once I realized that it wasn’t, the job became much more enjoyable. Okay guy with the disgusting drink, you want to ignore everything I say and pretend I don’t exist? Fine. I’d make his drink and act how I would with any other customer. Smile, make his drink, call it out and move on. Not everyone is going to be nice, and most of the time there’s nothing you can really do.
5. Relax, those Drinks will get Done
- So, things are going pretty well. You’ve been on the job for a few weeks and you’re finally getting the hang of things. But, oh no! Someone walks in with an order of 10 drinks all with modifications and different types of milks. You’re initial reaction is probably to freak out, and to think how the heck are you going to get all those drinks out in a timely manner. Relax new barista. Chances are another barista will notice the long list of drinks and hop over to help you out. You’ve done this and made those drinks before. Focus on what needs to get done and just do it. You probably won’t get those drinks out in under five minutes, but it’s okay. Work as fast as you can and don’t worry.
6. Use the Power of the Mind
- Now, this is probably my favorite and most useful tip. Working as a barista can be great, but it can also be physically and mentally exhausting. There was a point when I felt myself becoming that bitter barista people talk about. Angry and annoyed at everyone and everything. That person wasn’t me. I’m happy, calm and nice and I didn’t want to let the job change that. So, I started giving myself pep talks before and during work. I would drive to work at 4 a.m. and tell myself things like “It’s a beautiful morning. I’m going to have a great day. If someone is mean to me I’m just going to shake it off T-Swift style. I’m going to take orders, smile and make drinks dance to the silly coffee house music and it’s going to be great! Before I know it, it’s going to be over and I’m going to be off.” Seriously, it works. Try it and really believe in what you’re telling yourself. Stay positive!
7. Ask Questions!
- Lastly, ask questions! Simple enough. If you don’t know something, forgot or aren’t 100% sure, just ask. We don’t all know all of the answers and it’s completely fine and encouraged to ask questions.
Good luck and congrats, barista! Remember, you are special and you are trusted to serve all those caffeine-addicted people out there their coffee. You are a true hero!
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