The 10 Best Things To Look For When You Hire Cafe Staff

19 Feb 2021

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Starting out as a barista myself, then running cafes in Australia, I know that when it comes to hiring staff at your cafe, just how important it is to find the right fit. The type of staff you hire will play a huge role in achieving your goals, and ultimately, the success of your cafe, so let's get to it!

Coffee cup
Coffee cup

While there’s definitely teachable, foundational skills that every barista needs to have (enough time in the job, the right personality, a love of customer service), there are some unique qualities that might make a potential employee a great fit for one cafe, but a less ideal choice for your specific needs. Square-peg, round-hole stuff.

To know what these unique skills are is up to you, your hiring manager, and your game plan. Do you want a lively, bustling cafe with lots of banter on the floor between your staff and customers, or a quiet, ‘escape from the noise of the world’ kind of place (i’m a fan of both)?

Here at Need a Barista, we get literally t​housands ​of applications each year, and interview hundreds of baristas to join our team.

While we have our 10-point barista accreditation program to ensure that any barista we approve to join our on-demand platform has all the foundational skills in place, we also aim to have a wide spread of the different personality traits that make our industry so exciting, colourful and diverse.

That being said, we’re going to look at those foundational skills and attributes you need to have in a staff member first, before you can look at the more specific and unique skills that will match your cafe's personality.

So, based on our thousands of hours of interviews with baristas and conversations with cafes, here’s the 10 things to look for when you’re considering hiring a barista for your cafe (drum roll please):

  1. Personality.​ Yep, it’s so basic, but it c​annot ​be taught. Give me a barista candidate with great personality over a dead-pan wet fish any day. The skills of a great barista can be taught, personality rarely can.

  2. Reliability​. They need to show up on time, every time. Excuses are cheap, but a great barista will just....be there.

  3. Speed and efficiency.​ In everything. They need to be able to handle a high volume morning, efficiently.

  4. A knowledge of, and passion for, specialty coffee.​ I want someone who dreams about coffee, and researches it in their time off. Great chefs do this, and so do great baristas.

  5. Excellent communication skills.​ Be loud (or quiet) when needed. A basic understanding of others communication styles and body language is critical in a busy cafe. Which leads me on to my next point.

  6. Ability to play well with others.​ This is so important. Hospitality is a team sport, and if your staff don’t gel together, you’ll have an uphill battle on your already full hands.

  7. Attention to detail.​ Simple but critical. Every coffee served needs to be perfect. Repeatedly.

  8. Honesty.​ This is huge. I’m not just talking about standard expectations of honesty; A great new barista will honestly tell you if they aren’t sure about something in your coffee program, or if they need more help with anything.

  9. Salesmanship.​ Yep, I want the barista in my team to be able to talk to customers about the offerings of our cafe, and sell them. This is often overlooked, but can be a huge bump to your cafes bottom line. Are they a natural seller?

  10. Multitasking.​ This should go without saying, but a barista who can seamlessly juggle multiple things at once, for a sustained period of time, is a gift to any busy coffee station. It’s tough to teach, and when you see it, hire it.

Again, this list is about the basics, with the unique skills that you need from staff to execute the game plan of your cafe built on top. But life will be easier if the barista or customer service staff you hire have the above qualities.

Happy brewing.

Need a Barista is Australia's #1 platform for barista staffing and we have ensured that thousands of cafes, restaurants and venues continue to serve the highest quality coffee – even when their regular barista is unavailable

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