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Baristas are the face of the coffee industry. They provide customer service while brewing coffees and building espresso beverages. Baristas are often responsible for the range of operations in a coffee shop and cafe.
Baristas earn their wages by being flexible workers. Coffee shops and cafes serve a lot more than coffee – making baristas responsible for preparing and/or serving pastries, sandwiches, salads, and more.
This article reports on research into baristas’ average salaries. We will discuss how baristas earn their wages and provide tips for increasing your salary as a barista.
How Much do Baristas Make?
Baristas earn between $22,000 and $36,000 annually on average. We got those numbers by averaging the reporting from these three sources:
Salary.com calculates salary ranges based on HR data from across the US. They report that baristas earn between $20,059 and $28,545 annually.
Talent.com collected data on 10,000 salaries in the US. They report that baristas earn an average of $14.06 per hour for an annual salary of $29,250. They also provide an average salary for baristas in each state.
Comparably.com collects data from various sources and reports that baristas make between $16, 890 and $40,000 annually.
A smart way to determine how much you should earn as a barista is by talking to other baristas in your area. It might seem taboo to ask about others’ wages, but having frank conversations about wages will help you to discover your earning potential. That way, you can have some insight into what your skills and experiences as a barista are worth to employers.
What Influences Baristas’ Salaries?
The biggest determining factor of a barista’s salary is their skills and experiences. Through years of experience, baristas gather knowledge about coffee and the industry. Some also earn barista certifications through intense training. Their skills and knowledge are often rewarded with higher wages.
And, the kind of coffee shop or cafe where they work can influence their salary quite a bit. Locally owned coffee shops are often willing to pay baristas higher wages than their corporately owned counterparts.
The profit margins of the coffee shop or cafe where you work also influence your salary as a barista. When brands are just getting started or when sales are low, they might not have the income to provide competitive salaries to hourly workers. But, established, well-known brands can often provide good salaries and sometimes benefits.
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Baristas make Hourly Wages and Tips
Unlike restaurant servers and bartenders, baristas earn an hourly wage. A barista’s hourly wage depends on the kind of shop where they work and their prior experiences in the industry. Specialty coffee shops and high-end cafes typically offer the most competitive hourly wages.
In addition to hourly wages, baristas often earn tips. How much baristas earn in tips depends on the location and clientele of the coffee shop or cafe where they work. Coffee shops serve a lot of regular customers and regular customers are more likely to tip well.
How to Increase Your Barista Salary
Most baristas get into the coffee industry through on-the-job training. Many coffee shops and cafes are willing to provide training to new employees. Learning to brew the perfect cup and build espresso beverages can often take weeks or months of training.
While there are organizations that offer classes and barista certifications, workers typically undertake that additional training once they find they enjoy the coffee industry. Barista certifications can be expensive, but they offer a way for workers to develop their skills and move up in the industry.
Since a portion of a barista’s income is from tips, providing excellent service to each customer is a good way to increase your salary. Of course, tipping is not as standard in the coffee industry, but many shops increase baristas’ hourly wages with tips.
Many specialty coffee shops employ lead baristas–employees that are responsible for developing drink recipes, training staff, and staying up to date on industry trends. One way to increase your salary as a barista is to show that you have the skills and knowledge to work as a lead barista.
Other shops promote baristas into shift manager positions, especially corporately owned shops. While shift managers still have some of the duties of a barista, they take on additional responsibilities for an increased hourly salary.
Negotiating for Higher Salary as a Barista
Whenever you head into a negotiation for higher hourly wages as a barista, bring concrete examples of how you use your skills and knowledge to benefit the company. Are you particularly good at upselling pastries to pair with customers’ lattes? Or, do you go above and beyond to keep the shop clean and attractive?
Asking for an increase in wages can be nerve-wracking. As long as you are a reliable, efficient employee, you should feel confident in the value that you bring to the coffee shop or cafe where you work.
Provide evidence of how you’ve grown as an employee since the start of your employment. Have you earned any barista certifications or expanded your knowledge of coffee on your own time? Those experiences can translate to a higher salary if it is within the budget of the shop.
Baristas have a specialized skill set and knowledge about how to make great-tasting coffee and espresso drinks. If everyone could make cafe-quality coffee, then there wouldn’t be so many coffee shops. Know what your coffee industry skills, experiences, and knowledge are worth!
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