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Roles of A Barista

A Barista (/bəˈriːstə, -ˈrɪstə/; Italian: [baˈrista]; from the Italian for "bartender") is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. This is your typical Wikipedia definition of that person who makes your favourite espresso-based beverage and often we have our own personal favorite. A familiar face that greets us when we arrive at the café or someone who knows exactly how we want our coffee beverage and how we are doing. It’s often a personal relationship almost like what we have with our barber or hair dresser.


In Malaysia, unfortunately we do not provide enough recognition or acknowledgement to this profession, nor do we understand the difficulties and challenges that the Barista faces on a day to day. So I hope that this helps the reader to gain a greater sense of appreciation for their role they play in this wonderful world of coffee.


In this article we would like to explore the roles of an amazing Barista, these roles make up the entirety of their duties and responsibilities.


ARTISAN: Whether it’s Latte Art or the fine art of brewing coffee, the Barista is required to execute their job like a performing art, paying close attention to the perfection while delivering the highest quality product with amazing service. The Customers are their audience and in this performance, a simple cup of coffee is transformed to a work of art to demonstrate their skills, ability and dedication to the craft.

The Barista is able to bring out an entertainment value that elevates the profession and provides the Customer with a greater engagement. They take pride in their ability to present and articulate well when making a great cup of coffee.


SCIENTIST: The Barista needs to understand the science behind the extraction. It’s important for them to learn about how coffee extraction works, the chemical reaction in the coffee brewing process, the permeability of the bean and how that affects the taste of the coffee and even to a point of exploring the water quality in terms of total dissolved solids of both calcium and magnesium. The Barista needs to understand the need to adjust the entire brewing parameters to bring out the best possible flavors without inundating the customer with all these scientific details. These are tools of the trade that the Barista is able to utilize to create a great cup of coffee. They need to know the entire journey of the coffee bean from bean to cup and how the processing plays a huge role from the moment it reaches their café.


EDUCATOR: The entire success of an F&B outlet lies on how the Customer perceives the value of the experience that they paid for during their visit and because of this the Customer needs to be educated and the Barista has a responsibility to educate their customer about the coffee. Such as where the beans are from, how it was processed, how is it brewed and the best way to enjoy the coffee. This is role helps create greater appreciation for the coffee and the quality that the café brings to the customer. In the world of coffee, it’s imperative that the Barista educates the customer about the type of coffee used for example if it is a Specialty grade or a Commercial grade coffee and what they are getting. Every customer engagement is an opportunity to educate the customer.


PSYCHOLOGIST: The ultimate role of the Barista is to create happy customers. This requires the Barista to understand the customer perfectly and connect accordingly. Many customers are looking for a place where they can have Barista who knows how they like their coffee and to be able to carry out a decent conversation with them. The ability to rapport the customer requires a keen eye in understanding emotions and the psyche of customers. The Barista needs to know how to converse well, break the ice and in many ways provide a therapeutic environment for their customers. The goal is build a connection and an emotional bond. They need to demonstrate empathy and understanding towards the customer.


THE SALES MAN: The Barista needs to be able to sell the next cup, they need to have a strong business mindset to bring greater revenue to the outlet. Whether it is about recommending a slice of café to pair with the coffee or another cup of coffee with their meal. The success of the café depends on how much business is driven by the front line staff. The Customer will require the suggestions of the Barista because most times that becomes an opportunity for engagement and customer service. This helps build rapport and empathy towards the customers’ needs and wants.

This Profession requires a lot more than making a simple cup of coffee and no Barista has the luxury of just playing one role or to indulge only in an area where they are passionate in. Whether it’s cleaning duties, back of house, inventory checks or cashiering; the Barista has to take on these roles in the café and deliver results well.

Baristas should be aware that there are machines and technological advancement in the coffee delivery systems that are capable of making great cups of coffee too. Therefore it’s time to raise the standards and add value to the profession. It will always be a people business and the only way to succeed is to deliver the simple cup of coffee from Heart To Heart.

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Daniel Liew

Barista Guild Asia

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