Welcome to the tough world of the most famous specialty coffee town, Melbourne!
I’ve been wanting to be a barista for some time. I’ve met many amazing baristas in Japan, France, London, Germany… And they coincidentally all came to this far away southern little town to learn and gain experience as Barista.
I decided to jump in as well, determined to discover this world, and learn everything about specialty coffee.
But I’ve come to face a reality I wasn’t aware of :
Here, if you don’t have any experience, and no good latte art skills, it’s gonna be hard to create your spot in the industry.
But, not impossible!
There are actually 2 ways you can follow:
– To pay for a Barista school, learn the basics, and try to find a job.
– To try to find a job directly and learn there.
I didn’t want to pay for something I could actually learn by working, so I chose the second option. That may be not the easiest, but I believe it’s the most efficient and rewarding. (And money saving!)
However Barista courses can be a good option if you can afford it. See about the many options that Melbourne offers in this post : Melbourne Barista courses
How to find a barista position without prior experience
First : get interviews!
Everything starts here. You may feel hopeless because not many cafes would even want to consider your application if you have strictly no experience as Barista.
Especially in Melbourne, where cafe owners are strict as well as the customers!
Most of them are very specific about their orders and what we call “coffee snobs” here is a big part of the regular clientele.
Do you have experience in the Hospitality industry?
It will be a very valuable asset.
Being familiar with customer service and have a great banter is a strong quality that even good baristas here lack of.
If you’ve never been barista, I know how hard it is to even get recruiters interested in your application.
But you may be lucky and find a manager willing to train you if he really likes you and think you have great customer service skills.
So don’t just give up because of this.
Even in Melbourne, you can find some ways to get through this (see the next paragraphs!)
Should you lie?
Obviously, you would want to lie, but I wouldn’t recommend this.
Simply because they will know right away. The natural flow of gestures of a Barista speaks by itself.
You will lose your time ,and they will lose theirs, too.
If you have just a few months experience and want to blow it up a little bit, make it pretty on your CV, well… I’m not one to judge.
If you feel you have sufficient skills to compare to what you write on your CVS, then it might be OK!
Option 1: Focus on take-away coffee shops, or drive-thru stores
So, instead of lying to get a job in a nice fancy cafe right away, I would recommend instead to make a selection in your applications.
Don’t apply everywhere, wasting your energy uselessly.
That might be judicious to select announces which seem indulgent in their recruitment.
The ones which don’t mention the usual “two years experience in specialty coffee industry required”.
And most of time, the kind of places pretty indulgent are the ones catering exclusively take away coffees. Such as drive-thru stores.
Why? Because, first, you don’t need to have latte art skills.
Every cup of coffee goes with a lid, no need to draw beautiful swans and rosetta here.
Rapidity and customer service will be the most required competencies.
Also, a lot of these places are generally less strict about the coffee quality: they use cheaper beans, and focus on rapidity above all.
Being able to froth milk rightly could be still required, though.
If you never touched an espresso machine before, I suggest you to take one of the one-day barista courses, or to consider working in a place allowing you to use the coffee machine.
Option 2: Start as waiter / FOH
If you’re confident to work on the floor, that is another very usual option to have access to a coffee machine, and practice easily.
Some cafes and restaurants would kindly let you use the machine in your free time.
Furthermore, many employers would be glad to have you jump on the machine to cover the barista’ break.
If the team is nice you could also be taught by the baristas working there!
Learn by going to trials
This is actually what gave me the most experience.
More than schools, more than trying to practice on the machine while working as a waitress.
Even if I didn’t get the job, I learned so much by having trials in different environments, using different coffee machines, grinders, witnessing different organisations and working systems.
In case you’re not familiar with the recruitment system in Australia, in the hospitality industry :
When you apply somewhere, you’ll be likely to have a 2 or 3 hours (sometimes more) trial instead of a simple interview.
You work there together with the Barista or recruiter, who teaches you everything you must know to work in his shop.
That is the most concrete training you can ever have as a Barista!
My first trial was in a very small cafe doing almost exclusively only take away coffees. I could barely froth milk constantly because my only experience was the one hour practice I had in my mini 4-hours barista course.
However, after this first trial of 3 hours, my skills upgraded considerably. Working speedily, and being kindly taught about my mistakes by the manager has been the most efficient lesson I could have.
Volunteering in associative cafes
That’s something I wish I knew sooner :
There are some cafes and restaurants in Melbourne, where you can volunteer, and by the same time gain experience. Whatever it be in on the floor, or bantering, cooking…
To list some, there are for example Co-ground coffee, Lentil as anything, Kinfolk.
I’ve been volunteering in two of them. The ambiance is awesome, you get to meet beautiful people and learn in so many aspects.
I’ve been running Coffee cart events and that is one of my best valuable experience so far.
At the time I write this article, the “Ubermilk” wave is coming to Melbourne~
Ubermilk is a foamed-milk dispenser, delivering perfectly steamed milk.
You may not even have to struggle with the art of steaming milk from now on…