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Hiring baristas & building your team

Finding the right person adds value to your operations, culture and profitability

Build a successful team

Hire a barista that will support your coffee business’s objectives

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Coffee is dynamic and demands attention to detail. Follow these tips gathered from United Baristas and from across the coffee industry to better your barista recruitment and increase business performance.

Barista recruitment can be time-consuming and coffee businesses can fall into a negative cycle of hiring poorly, suffering reduced staff retention and therefore needing to hire more frequently.

Some of the most successful coffee businesses benefit from smarter recruitment, improved staff retention and therefore benefit from more time and skills to grow their business.

Throughout the recruitment process your focus needs to be on finding the right person for your business.


Let’s work out what you actually want and need

Hiring a new barista is an opportunity to consider your coffee business’s operations and requirements afresh.

Take the opportunity to consider the mix of skills and personalities that already exist in your team.

Within the position description ‘barista’, there are a multitude of specialisms, roles and personalities.

For example, do you need a barista workhorse? A sales-focused personality? Someone to help up-skill the team? Or maybe a trainee barista.

Start by drawing up a list of at least three qualities or skills you must have in your new hire. For example:

  • trainee, lightweight, medium-weight, heavyweight, lead or head barista
  • sales focus, love of customer service, likes working on the espresso machine
  • team player or ability to work independently
  • should focus on coffee or do they need to assist in the kitchen or work front-of-house
  • Punctual, can work early or finish late, available at weekends
  • Perform an established function, develop a role, grow with the business or help manage the business
  • Open, close, cash up, stocktake, order, create rosters

If you just thought, I need all of the above! – then you’ve fallen into the trap of wanting a bit of everything. The purpose of this exercise is to clearly establish your needs and priorities.

Identifying your needs allows you to aim high and proceed with focus. So even if you come up a little short on all your objectives, your coffee business is still going to be in an improved position.

It’s better to communicate specific qualities in the job listing rather than assume that they’ll be present in someone with experience. Also requiring a minimum duration of industry experience risks eliminating outliers from your search that you probably want, such as go-getters and fast learners.


Give yourself time

With short notice periods typical in coffee businesses, there can be pressure to hire quickly. However, taking the appropriate time to recruit a barista pays dividends over the medium and long term.

Giving yourself time allows you to move from finding a person who meets baseline requirements to recruiting a barista who can help your coffee business succeed.

Longer application periods increase the quality of applicants

Baristas tend to look for work when they have outgrown their current role, have relocated or want a new working environment. It’s important to recognise that most coffee businesses’ access to talent is amongst those actively looking for work.

Think about it like this: if a barista you’d love to hire for your specific vacancy in your town or city comes available once per month, then an application window of a fortnight might not give you the right candidate; while a window of two months will give you two.

Giving yourself time to recruit significantly increases your chances of success.

Immediate starts

There are always people available and wanting to start right away, and some of them might meet the profile your coffee business needs. However, these people might not be committed to the medium term goals of your business.

You can always fill immediate needs with contract or agency people while you carry out your barista recruitment.

United Baristas Jobs offers 90 day job listings as standard to give you plenty of time to list, advertise, shortlist and hire.

Recruitment agencies

Many coffee businesses choose to hire directly to reduce their recruitment costs and ensure cultural fit.

For most barista roles this makes sense and we have also identified that many baristas are put off at the prospect of applying for a job via a recruitment agency because they think the process will be more drawn out and difficult.

It is more common to use a recruitment agency for senior coffee positions.

United Baristas recommends that recruitment agencies add the job with the coffee company’s name, brand, logo and images (rather than their own) to increase application rates.

Balancing skills & cultural fit

Larger companies tend to hire with a focus on hard skills because they have specific operational requirements.

Most smaller companies hire with a focus on cultural fit because it is important that the new hire establishes good relationships with the current team. Also, in small companies people tend to work across areas, so specialist skills can be less important for overall job performance.

Many coffee companies are small companies and even in larger coffee businesses many baristas skill work in small teams. As a result, coffee companies often hire with an emphasis on cultural fit.

It is important to get the balance between skills and cultural fit right. Here’s two factors to consider:

  • When you listed your objectives many of the qualities were likely to be hard skills. It is critical for your coffee business’s success that you hire people with these qualities.
  • When hiring with a focus on cultural fit there is an increased risk of hiring people with a similar personality type and background to either ourselves or to the team’s existing composition. This bias has two key negative impacts. Firstly, this can lead to hiring people with strengths that your coffee business already has. Secondly, it increases the chance of excluding people who have the right skills but have personalty, lifestyle or cultural traits which are less familiar to you.

While cultural fit is important, hiring with a focus on skills and competencies is essential for identifying talented coffee people and building a successful team.


Great job listings

Great job listings get better quality applications.

Take the time to write a compelling job listing including:

  • The role and defining the scope of work
  • Location of work
  • Required skills
  • Desirable skills
  • About your company
  • Include, attach or link to the position description
  • Renumeration package, including pay range, bonuses, pension, leave and entitlements
  • Application closing date, recruitment process and timelines, and target starting date

These qualities are important for all job vacancies and gain additional importance if your company or role is not commonly known or understood.

Add your coffee business’s logo

Job listings with company logos receive more applications.

Use images

Use a header banner to communicate your company, place of work or product.

If your header image is compliant it can be used to promote your job, including on the United Baristas Jobs instagram.

Communicate the application deadline

In general, barista job listings with a closing date receive more applications.

Application process

Summarise the application method and process to avoid applicant confusion.

For example, will you accept applications sent via social media channels, posted or delivered by hand?

United Baristas Jobs allows you to either a) receive applications via email with the application stored on your Employer Dashboard, or b) candidates to be re-directed to your online application portal or website


Receiving applications

Make sure you have a process to collate and manage applications, especially if you are receiving them from multiple sources.

You might managed them in a spreadsheet, an online service such as Asana, or a specific recruitment application.

When you receive applications via United Baristas Jobs, you can optionally manage the recruitment process from your Employer Dashboard.


Vacancy Marketing

Job vacancy marketing increases your reach and broadens the pool of potential candidates.

All jobs on United Baristas reach a cross section of the coffee community. For additional reach, opt for Job Listing + Marketing.

Use your extended networks

Once you have listed your job on United Baristas Jobs, share the vacancy on your LinkedIn and personal social media channels as well as with your staff. Not only might they know a suitable candidate but they also might want to apply for the job.

Advertising job vacancies on your coffee business’s social media can have mixed results. Some coffee business report good responses while for others it is off-putting to their customers.


A tip to increase the range of applicants

Let’s take the example of recruiting a skilled barista who will work alongside colleagues making coffee and serving customers but also needs to manage the shop when the Manager is not present.

Post the same job listing each week over several weeks with a different title that highlights a facet of the role, for example:

  • Hiring a Skilled Barista
  • Recruiting a Senior Barista
  • Wanted – Assistant Manager
  • Trainee Store Manager

Or, think about the various ways to reach potential Trainee Baristas:

  • Trainee Barista (for people who understand that this role exists)
  • Learn Barista Skills on the Job at [your company]
  • Become a Barista, no previous experience required
  • Take the first step in a career in coffee

Each title will attract a different type of person and you’ll have a wider pool of talent to consider for the role.

Our Employer Kit allows coffee companies to add unlimited coffee jobs.


Long listing and short listing

Once applications close, start by removing candidates using just the hard skill attributes that you require for the role.

This process is often called creating a long list, but it is also known as screening, qualifying or culling.

The purpose of the long list is to create a smaller group of applicants to whom you can give serious consideration. During this phase it is quite typical to reject the majority of applications.

When you ‘reject’ an application on your Employment Dashboard the person is automatically emailed a polite email from United Baristas letting them know that they weren’t selected for the role and suggesting other suitable coffee jobs.

Building a Short List

There are many ways to move to a short list, but the objective should be to end up with a small group of people who you can actively consider for the role. Here’s some methods used by coffee companies:

  • an initial 10-15 minute phone or video call
  • circulating the long list amongst colleagues
  • identifying the leading candidates and immediately interviewing them; reverting to the others only if none of the initial selection are available or suitable
  • Sometimes if your long list is already quite short, you may choose to proceed straight to conducting interviews and trials

Interviews and trials

It is commonplace to conduct a face-to-face interview and trial with each of the short listed candidates. The purpose is to check their hard skills, barista skills and to ascertain their cultural fit.

While an essential part of the recruitment process, surveys show that most people are poor at judging other people’s character and predicting their future job performance.

Therefore some of the leading coffee businesses perform a face-to-face interview with a manager or owner (focusing on skills, aptitude and personality) and an opportunity to work preparing coffee alongside a Store Manager, Head Barista, or Heavyweight Barista (focusing on barista skills, team work and cultural fit). The respective people are then able to conference afterward to compare and rank the candidates.

Involving a number of people in your recruitment process is a proven way to better identify candidate’s traits, skills and aptitudes.

Interviews and trials can take place during service, however this can be a poor indicator if the candidate does not already have a working knowledge of your menu, workflow and equipment. It is generally better practice to perform trials during quiet periods or on an auxiliary espresso machine.


Create a ‘book of talent’ to prepare for the future

It is not uncommon to like a shortlisted candidate, but for them not to be suitable for the current role.

In this instance, ask to keep in touch and add them to your ‘book of talent’. Also let them know to reach out to you in the future if they are keen for a change. You can then follow their coffee careers and approach them when a suitable job vacancy arises.

Similarly, when a good barista leaves for another coffee company, invite them to stay in touch and let you know if their new role doesn’t work out (you will probably need to positively stress your openness to offset any potential future embarrassment they might feel in approaching you for a job again). It is not uncommon to re-hire good people again.

To respect applicant’s privacy, we automatically delete applications from United Baristas Jobs 180 days after your job listing closes.


Making a job offer

With your prefer candidate identified, it’s time to make them an offer. Remember to sell them on the reasonable and realistic benefits and opportunities of the job.


Start your recruitment

United Baristas Jobs specialises in barista jobs for coffee companies. Follow these steps to find the right barista for your coffee business.