What Makes a Good Barista? 9 Key Skills Every Barista Needs 

By Mark •  Updated: 10/20/22 •  6 min read

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Coffee ignites enthusiasm and passion; nothing beats a great cup of coffee! Except for one that has been expertly prepared with quality ingredients!

However, there is more to the art of coffee than initially meets the eye. If you are interested in coffee, you may be considering a career as a barista, but what skills do you need to make a good barista?

What Makes a Good Barista
What Makes a Good Barista?

A good barista is customer-focused and has mastered the technical aspects of making coffee, from coffee extraction to milk texture, foam, and temperature. They can multi-task with a good memory, friendly service, and knowledge of coffee beans and types. 

If this sounds like a career you are interested in, read on to find out in more detail what skills you need to become a successful barista and make that ultimate cup of coffee.  

What Technical Skills Does a Good Barista Need?

Become the master of the coffee Machine!

To become a good barista and make great-tasting coffees, you will have to master the technical skills of the coffee machine, extracting coffee, and techniques for correctly texturing and heating milk. A good barista requires the following technical skills.  

  1. Setting the coffee grinder.
  2. Tampering your ground coffee correctly.
  3. Extracting the espresso.
  4. Heating milk to achieve the desired texture and foam.
  5. Pouring the coffee.
  6. Knowledge of different types of coffee.
  7. Knowledge of different coffee blends.
  8. Food safety procedures.
  9. How to clean and properly maintain a coffee machine.

What Are the Soft Skills a Good Barista Needs?  

As well as technical coffee brewing skills, you will need other attributes to become a good barista.  

As a rule, the soft skills a barista needs to excel are effective communication with customers and other team members, the ability to multi-task and work quickly, and being passionate and open to learning and improving their trade.  

  • You will need to be customer focused and have a friendly and polite manner to give your clients the best possible experience. 
  • Be calm and de-escalate customer complaints; it’s part and parcel of a customer-facing role that you will have to deal with angry customers and appropriately with complaints when the situation arises.
  • Have a good memory and give a personalized experience. A great barista will remember regular customers’ orders and names and treat the customer as a valued friend.  
  • Work at a fast pace, customers often don’t want to hang around for their coffee, especially in the morning rush. Working as a barista requires you to make coffee quickly and multi-task to serve coffee promptly and efficiently.   
  • Be clear and well-presented; as you interact with customers, you must maintain a clean workstation.  
  • Used the POS system (the till)
  • Communicate clearly with your colleagues to work as an efficient team – this is essential in all hospitality businesses! The great thing about hospitality is it is often very social, and you will make many friends through work.   

Practice Your Craft

If you are willing to learn and practice your craft, you will thrive in your role as a barista.  

Any good barista will need to put the hours into practice and improve. You will need practical experience on your journey to becoming a good barista. 

Practice Your Craft
Practice Your Craft

Getting some mentors already in the industry that you can learn from and help you grow is helpful. One way to fast-track your learning is through barista training.

Check out this guide if you’re wondering, is barista training worth it?

An experienced barista will have around a year’s worth of on-the-job experience before they fully master the craft; however, a good barista will be committed to continuous learning.  

Take Your Art to the Next Level

The visual presentation of coffee is crucial. After all, people eat and drink with their eyes first.  

Coffee art can take your barista skills from good to fantastic by adding an extra bow to your arrow. Get your creative juices flowing and master the ability to create stunning designs on your coffees to delight your customers.  

Take Your Art to the Next Level
Take Your Latte Art to the Next Level

With practice, baristas can create impressive and intricate designs. 

This requires proper technique to give you the perfect milk texture to work with, a steady hand, time, patience, and practice.  

A Good Barista Must Be Allergy Aware

A good barista must be allergy aware

This can be a life-and-death issue for some of your customers. A good barista must also be up to speed with training and issues around allergies and how to deal safely with them.  

A Good Barista Must Be Allergy Aware
A Good Barista Must Be Allergy Aware

You need to be aware of cross-contamination from the steaming wand, which can affect allergy customers. The wand will need to be effectively sterilized, as will the cup and the jug used to heat the milk.  

Common Allergies a Barista May Encounter

Below are four common allergies you may come across as a barista. 

  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Nut
  • Wheat

As a barista, you will encounter allergies; ensure you are ready and up to date with your workplace’s policies and procedures on safely dealing with allergies.  

Develop Your Sensory Skills

A good barista will have sharp sensory skills

Improving and developing your sensory skills will allow you to identify if something is wrong with the coffee or the milk. It will also let you explain the different flavor profiles of other coffee beans and blends to customers. 

Develop Your Sensory Skills
Develop Your Sensory Skills

You can improve your sensory skills in many ways, first and foremost by tasting as many things as possible and actively thinking about the flavors you are experiencing.

A valuable experience for an up-and-coming barista is to attend a professional training course for developing sensory skills. These can be enjoyable and exciting experiences.


In conclusion, being a good barista requires developing your technical skills in making and preparing coffee. Customer service skills, teamwork, and knowledge of food safety procedures and policies are also crucial for baristas.

As are developing sensory skills, practicing your craft, and presentation. These skill sets will allow you to become the best barista you can be. 



G'day from Australia! I'm Mark, the Chief Editor of Portafilter. I'm super passionate about everything coffee-related and love to spend endless hours mastering pulling the perfect shot on my Breville Barista Express. Follow on: Linkedin and Facebook.

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