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How Long Does It Take to Become a Barista?

barista preparing coffee at the bar counter

Becoming a barista can be a rewarding experience because it’s a great way to meet other people who enjoy coffee as much as you do, and it also enables you to be more creative than at a typical office job. However, there is a considerable learning curve, and many people wonder how long it will take them to get started. The short answer is that it can take a few months, but the exact time will vary. Keep reading as we look at what is involved with this profession and what you need to train for.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Barista? The 4 Stages

The amount of time that it takes to become a barista will largely depend on the skills that you intend to learn or need to learn for the job. It takes about 3 months for most people, but it can take a full year or more to be the best of the best.

barista hands making a cafe latte in a black mug
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

1. Your First Week

If you are extremely new, your first week will consist of learning your way around the shop. There are quite a few products involved with being a barista, and you will need to know where they are when you need them. It will also be important to learn about emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and other safety equipment. Finally, you will likely spend time learning about food contamination, allergies, and other food prep essentials.


2. First Three Months

Once you know your way around the shop, you can begin to learn how to be a barista. For many people, these first 3 months will be enough to get them working in the field, and they can pick up additional education later as they need it or as it becomes available. If you have a good teacher, it can take less time. Some companies require formal education or at least an online course, which won’t shorten your training time but will help you have a more complete understanding of the job.

barista with fresh black coffee ready for customer
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Coffee Beans

You will likely spend your first few days learning about coffee beans. There are many different varieties, and the type of tree that the beans grow on, along with its growing environment, will affect the taste of the coffee. You will need to know how to share this information with your customers. Roasting will also affect the flavor and the amount of caffeine, so you will need to know everything about light, medium, and dark roasts and when to use each.

Other Skills

During these first few months, you will learn how to adjust the settings on the grinder, steam milk, and control the temperatures of the water and milk, and you should know how the different drinks taste so you can recognize them by flavor alone. You may also begin learning the basics of latte art, which can take some people a while to master. You will learn how to brew the coffee, make espresso, foam the milk for cappuccinos, and communicate with customers properly, so there are no errors with their order.

Barista whipping milk
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

3. Three Months to One Year

Most people will have enough knowledge to work independently after about 3 months, but it can take several more months of practice to become an expert, and you may find yourself making improvements beyond 1 year, especially with latte art or roasting, where only a few seconds can make a difference in flavor.


4. Over One Year: Specialization

In most cases, people will wait at least 1 year before increasing their education into specialized areas to ensure that they have enough basic experience. It can be helpful to learn more about beans and roasting to begin creating unique flavors by mixing beans with different profiles. Experienced baristas will also experiment with brewing and extraction methods to create something that sets them apart from the competition and brings in the customers.

coffee roasting
Image Credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash

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Summary

How long it takes to become a barista will vary considerably depending on your goals. If you want to work at the local coffee shop because you like the environment and think that it would be a great job, they will probably consider you a competent employee in about 3 months, especially if there is someone who can train you or if you take an online course. If you are looking into this field because you love coffee so much that you want to start your own cafe, it will likely take you 1 year or more of working at a local place before you’re ready, as there’s quite a bit to learn.


Featured Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

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Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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