Working as a Head Barista

Next in our series on Working in Hospitality, we’ll discuss the role and responsibilities of a Head Barista in a coffee shop. This is a hands-on management position, so previous experience as a barista will be required. 

What’s required of you will vary depending on the venue you’re working in, but the core principles will remain the same. We can’t tell you what it is like everywhere but we can give you an insight into some of the things to expect.

The Role

The Head Barista of the cafe essentially runs the day to day operations of the coffee shop. It’s the Head Barista’s job to keep things moving smoothly on shift, ensure staff are up to speed on training, deliver the best service possible to customers, and maintain strong relationships with management and suppliers. 

If you’ve worked as a Barista already, this is an excellent progression as the next step in your career in hospitality. As a Head Barista, you will have significantly more responsibilities than the Junior Baristas that you are in charge of. Your main responsibilities will be: 

  • Greeting customers and delivering excellent customer service. 
  • Preparing coffees and other beverages to a high standard of taste and quality. 
  • Making recommendations to customers and answering any questions. 
  • Coordinate orders for Junior Baristas and waiters to ensure a smooth customer experience. 
  • Manage orders for stock and coffee supplies.
  • Maintain and clean coffee machines. Organise service where needed. 
  • Train and set standards for Junior Baristas and Wait Staff. 
  • Monitor and maintain hygiene and cleaning standards. 
  • Liaise with coffee roasters and management to ensure the smooth running of operations and delivery of quality products. 

Your aim is to ensure your team is working as efficiently as possible and provide an excellent experience for your customers. Whilst this sounds like a lot, this is an exciting opportunity for you to excel as a leader and nurture a strong team. 

What to expect

For starters, you’ll be the first stop for questions from your team. This could relate to customer complaints, decisions on specials, allergens, etc. So, you’ll need to be confident and build trust with your team. 

One of your main duties will be overseeing the Junior Baristas. You will be training them, shadowing them and ensuring the same standard of beverages is delivered whether you are on shift or not. 

This role also presents an excellent chance for you to flex some creative muscle. Certain coffee shops change where they get their beans from and add limited specials to the menu. As you’re in charge of ordering, this is your chance to experiment. Trying different blends and producers to excite both you and your customers. You can also experiment with recipes, latte art and more! Have fun with it, you’re the boss after all.

Another key aspect of your role is relationship management.

You will be responsible for ordering from suppliers and roasters and will be their first point of contact in the business. Without their product, you have nothing to sell or make. Without you, they have a bunch of beans in bags in storage. Keeping these relationships healthy is crucial to the day to day running of your coffee shop. 

You will also be in charge of the hiring, training and disciplining your team. Be sure to select new team members carefully and do what you can to keep your team happy and productive. People work harder for managers they like so try to make your relationships with your team as mutually beneficial as possible. Work hard for them and they will do the same for you. 

Skills and Qualifications

You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a Head Barista, however experience is a must. A year spent working as a Barista is expected as a minimum and many coffee shops would require previous customer experience as well. The main skills required are: 

  • Experience as a Barista. This way you can perform the role comfortably, whilst training others and overseeing day to day operations. 
  • A passion for coffee and customer service. 
  • A team player. 
  • Strong communication skills. 
  • Stakeholder and relationship management. 
  • Multi-tasking, time management and organisational skills. 
  • Confidence to train new members of staff. 
  • Creativity and problem solving skills. 
  • Leadership skills.

Summary

Working as a Head Barista is exciting! It certainly comes with its stresses, but it is incredibly rewarding. As jobs go in the hospitality industry, there are few that offer the chance to express yourself creatively, work face to face with customers and develop management skills. It’s a real chance for you to make your mark in your coffee shop and share your passion with others! 

Be sure to check out some of the other posts on our page if you’re interested in finding out more about working in the hospitality industry.

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