Have you ever wondered what the most important part of a specialty coffee bar is? Of course it must have really good specialty coffee, a welcoming atmosphere, reasonable prices and yummy snacks, but the most important element in keeping the customers loyal and returning is the specialty coffee barista. The barista is the person who makes the coffee and frequently serves the coffee.
It isn’t surprising that a business that relies on a single type of beverage depends on the ability of the person who makes it. It is, however, surprising, that the ability to make good coffee isn’t the most important quality of the successful barista.
The Good Barista
The specialty coffee bar is usually a comfortable, friendly place. Coffee drinkers often arrive in groups looking for a place to enjoy some conversation along with the beverage they admire. That’s why the most important quality in a barista is a friendly personality. Just as the most popular diners are known for their outgoing waitresses instead of their meat loaf, a specialty coffee bar is known for its friendly staff first. A people person is born, not made. Nearly anyone can be trained to make good specialty coffee.
Of course, a specialty coffee bar also offers specialty coffee. Sometimes it’s the roast or the type of coffee that’s a selling point. Usually, there is a certain way to make the specialty coffee that makes one coffee bar different from another. When a barista is hired by a specialty coffee bar, his or her experience is far less important than his or her willingness to learn.
Oh, and they should really like coffee, too.
Where to Find Them
Look for people who will like the kind of people that you cater to. In a college town, at a college coffee bar hangout, look for your baristas at – you guessed it – the college. Be up front about the amount of work that a barista is expected to do. A college student has a full schedule and has to be prepared from the beginning to shoulder the work load.
Besides fliers at the college, a good way to advertise is on the employment sites of the Internet. The usual sites that everyone knows, local employment sites, web sites of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and sites associated with coffee magazines all come through with applicants. In addition, a flier posted in the coffee bar itself is a good source of interested would-be baristas
The specialty coffee barista is a gem. Don’t be afraid to search, define and display a good one like you would a diamond.