Scroll through barista job descriptions on websites like Indeed, Sprudge, or LinkedIn, and you’ll notice a common theme: the lack of uniformity. Some job descriptions read like a novel, while others look like they’ve been copied and pasted from an iPhone note.
Baristas rely on job descriptions to develop a first impression of a company. Coffee shop owners use job listings to recruit and attract top talent. So, what makes a good barista job description?
We chatted with baristas, coffee shop owners, and associate HR professionals to understand what information needs to be included in a job description. We wanted to learn what words are red flags and how coffee shop owners can attract great people with a clear and concise job description.
Looking to hire quickly? Download our Barista Job Description Template to shortcut the job description creation process.
Barista Job Descriptions: The Necessities
Every job description should accomplish four goals:
- Inform applicants about the core responsibilities and duties of the role
- List the requirements for applying and job consideration
- Be transparent about company policies and expectations
- Provide precise details about salary, benefits, and other forms of compensation
Let’s break each point down.
Job Responsibilities & Training Expectations
Although it may seem obvious, a job description details precisely what a barista will do throughout each shift. This gives potential applicants an understanding of a typical workday and helps them determine if it matches their expectations for the role and personal employment needs.
Barista job descriptions can include responsibilities such as:
- Greeting customers as they arrive
- Taking customer orders and completing transactions, including the handling of cash and credit card payments
- Fulfilling drink orders according to company recipes and customer specifications
- Managing and fulfilling online food and drink orders
- Retaining and sharing knowledge of the coffee menu
- Tracking inventory of paper goods, dairy products, condiments, and other bar necessities
- Cleaning the coffee bar, seating area, and bathrooms throughout the day
Detailing the responsibilities of a barista role at your coffee shop also gives new hires insight into what their role does not entail. Building an accurate job description is essential for aligning wage expectations with workplace responsibilities.
When Mikaela Mariner, a barista from Connecticut, accepted a job at a corporate coffee chain, she was surprised to find she was assigned more tasks than initially outlined in the job description. “I found out that certain tasks I was asked to perform were technically for other roles at the company,” she says. In this case, Mariner was asked to do more than her job description entailed—and what she was paid to do. “I could have gotten paid more.”
Be as specific as possible when describing barista duties. “Another thing I’ve encountered is very vague descriptions,” Mariner mentioned. These unclear or purposefully vague descriptions can lead to a disconnect when a job description doesn’t specifically outline responsibilities. Upon accepting a different coffee job, Mariner noted that the job description didn’t match what her role actually entailed.
Eric Grimm, an associate professional in human resources and the Director of Positive Outcomes at Glitter Cat Barista, says that a barista job description must include the training expectations for a role. Expectations can include how long a training period will take and when a barista can expect to begin serving drinks to customers.
Baristas need detailed job descriptions to understand what is expected of them, and coffee shop owners can use them to resolve concerns or misunderstandings. All parties can refer to the job description when discussing agreed-upon role responsibilities.
Job And Application Requirements
If you don’t clearly define the requirements for a role, you’ll find yourself weeding through dozens of applications. A strong job description can help ensure you don’t end up with a stack of resumes filled with candidates that don’t fit the bill.
When outlining the job requirements for a barista position, think about what the job requires at your shop—and don’t be afraid to be specific. This can include:
- Ability to work from 6:30 am–2:30 pm with a 30-minute break
- Adherence to shop recipes for both food and beverage orders
- Participation in paid training sessions before the first official bar shift
Similarly, a job description should list what you expect candidates to do during the application process, like sending a resume, filling out an application, or providing a list of references.
You can also get creative with the application. Rob Arnold, the owner of Pregame Coffee in Louisville, Kentucky, says his barista job descriptions, which he posts on Indeed.com, include two write-in answers. The first question asks how much experience the applicant has; the other asks the candidate to describe a time when they’ve had to deal with an unruly customer.
“I’m not necessarily looking to see how they dealt with the situation,” Arnold explains. “What I’m looking for is how you tell me about that experience. Do you answer this question in a professional manner?”
If your coffee shop has any specific policies, these also need to be mentioned in the job description. For example, suppose your coffee shop requires baristas to wear a uniform. In that case, the job description should mention this requirement and explain if the uniform is provided or an expense baristas are responsible for.
Company policies can include:
- Shift break explanations (in adherence with local, state, and federal regulations)
- Vacation/sick day/time off policies
- Code of conduct
- Tip distribution
- Shift food and drink allowance
Salary & Benefits
“Putting a salary range is by far the most important thing on a job description, especially when we are in the most competitive job environment we have seen in our lifetimes,” Grimm says. “If there are any benefits, they need to be listed.”
Barista compensation traditionally comes in the form of an hourly wage plus tips. However, not all job descriptions explain the accurate breakdown of these wages and being specific about compensation distribution reduces the risk of miscommunication about wages.
In an op-ed for the Philadelphia Enquirer, Todd Charmichael, former CEO of La Colombe, criticized employers and politicians content with the current minimum wage. “Unless you pay your employees a nonpredatory living wage that keeps people and their families above the poverty line,” he wrote, “you don’t deserve to be in business.” In the piece, he advocates in support of the Raise The Wage Act, an initiative that would bring the minimum wage up to $15 an hour.
Carmichael received universal praise for the piece—that is, until an article released two years later pointed out that La Colombe’s baristas started at $9 an hour before tips with a $1 per hour raise after one year. “When he was called out, Carmichael said he ensures that, with tips, everyone brings home at least $15 an hour,” the piece states. “But as a barista told [us], that means that living wage is reliant on the kindness of customers, instead of the kindness of their self-championing progressive owner.”
It is best practice to list the hourly wage range followed by the mention of tips and be clear that these two amounts are separate. In a job description, being clear about salary can look like this:
Salary: $15-$17 base pay per hour, based on experience, plus tips.
To list a salary of $20-$25 per hour—without mentioning that this range includes—implies that the $20-$25 per hour wage is before tips. If this is the salary before tips, fantastic, but try to be as transparent as possible about your base pay.
If you can estimate average tips, please do so, but be realistic and don’t overestimate—consult current baristas about what average tips are like. You should also include scheduled salary check-ins and opportunities for raises: do baristas get a raise after a certain period, for example?
Attracting the Right Barista Candidates
A job description serves two purposes: to outline the details of a role to potential candidates and to attract candidates who share the values of your business.
Mariner personally looks for job descriptions that promote individual expression. “I want to see barista job descriptions encouraging creativity. There’s a lot of copy and paste in the industry that’s problematic, and one of the best things a barista can offer you is individuality,” she says.
Baristas also review job descriptions for red flags. The number one warning sign? “Any indication that ‘they’re a family’ for sure,” Grimm said. Mariner echoed this red flag adding, “Anything that says ‘close-knit environment.'”
Grimm explained that many of these pitfalls or red flags come from coffee shop owners not understanding how their company works before trying to bring in someone new. “It’s hard to write a job description if you don’t know what your values are, if you don’t have a handbook, or if you don’t have standard operating procedures for your café’s operations,” they continued. “A fully formed set of company values and policies will then inform how you write your job description.”
Create Your Next Barista Job Listing
You might wonder how to apply these principles to your next hiring post. To help guide you, check out three examples of barista job descriptions and why they work:
- Retail Manager at Mad Priest Coffee Roasters — In addition to being incredibly detailed, this job description vividly demonstrates the company’s work environment and values through creative language.
- Little Wolf Coffee — On its Careers page, Little Wolf Coffee follows a simple job listing structure while providing a wealth of desirable information, including necessary qualifications, duties, and pay and benefits.
- Barista at City of Saints Coffee — City of Saints’ barista job description asks applicants to submit answers to three unique questions, giving employers a better understanding of the candidate’s experience beyond a resume and providing applicants an opportunity to stand out beyond their bar skills.
While job descriptions don’t need to read like an enthralling literary masterpiece, they need to provide pertinent information for interested baristas. Coffee shop owners can attract ideal candidates by ensuring their job descriptions include:
- Detailed barista responsibilities and duties
- Information about required skills, certifications, and years of experience
- Any company policies, values, and expectations relevant to the hiring process or job performance
- Transparent salary ranges with additional compensation and benefits
We’ve created a template you can use to write a barista job description for your coffee shop. Download our barista job description template and give it a try.
Anne Mercer is a freelance writer specializing in helping brands and individuals carve out their space in the specialty coffee industry. She is also the co-owner of Victus Coffee, based in West Hartford, Connecticut. Visit her website at annemercer.com.