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Opening your own coffee shop is a dream shared by thousands of people. In fact, it seems to be a dream of dozens of people in my hometown.
The problem is, that they’re motivated by their love of coffee and community. And I’m sure they find owning a coffee shop super fulfilling…for the six months they have before they go out of business.
Opening a coffee shop requires all of the same acumens as running any other physical business. In this case, however, there is the additional need for having some actual skills related to your business. In other words, you better be an awesome barista.
Many coffee shop owners find themselves working behind the counter for a while after opening and then training someone to take their place.
Before you start planning how you’ll build the right atmosphere, buy the right beans, and brew the perfect cup of coffee, you better cut your chops at a barista school.
Not only will you be far more knowledgeable and skillful when you start your coffee shop, but you’ll also find it far easier to recruit, get help, and even get a loan if necessary.
So where should you go to school? Well, if you are serious about the trade there are a limited number of really good barista schools in the U.S. These are our picks for the best overall value.
The 3 Best Barista Schools For Coffee Students
Brewing the perfect coffee, pulling espresso shots, and steaming milk with just the right density foam is not something you learn in home-economics class. It’s also not something you can glean from an espresso machine demonstration at Williams-Sonoma or even by owning your own Keurig. Surprising, huh?
All of the following schools provide courses that are designed to put you at the top of the coffee game. You need knowledge that gives you an edge over your competition and an appreciation for all the coffee has to offer
Here are the 3 best barista training programs in the U.S….
1. The Seattle Barista Academy
If you want to learn about coffee there’s really no better place in the country than the rainy, dreary, beautiful Seattle.
The Seattle Barista Academy offers one-on-one professional barista training that’s inspired by a hands-on approach.
Not only will you get instruction from the top coffee professionals in a state-of-the-art facility, but you’ll also learn virtually every aspect of running a coffee shop.
You’ll get to train on commercial espresso machines, learn about various coffee brewing methods, and tour coffee roasting facilities.
Running a coffee shop is more than just knowing how to brew coffee, and the Seattle Barista Academy knows that all too well. That’s why you’ll also learn about what equipment best suits your needs, how to set up a bar that flows efficiently, and how to manage and operate a store successfully.
2. The Texas Coffee School
The Texas Coffee School offers barista training courses on just about anything. You can learn latte art, you can learn how to conduct a proper coffee tasting, and you can learn everything there is to know about pulling the perfect espresso shot and steaming perfectly aerated milk every time.
The two-day comprehensive barista training class features 14 hours of hands-on experience in preparing espresso drinks, maintaining bar equipment, and learning classic recipes.
But this barista training school also offers courses for people with eyes on a bigger prize.
You can take courses in coffee shop management or a 3-day coffee business overview course. In these classes, you’ll learn how you can open a coffee shop of your own. It’s a feat that may seem insurmountable, but with their training and tips, you’ll see that owning your own coffee shop is completely attainable.
You can register for all of these classes online, and select from any number of available dates. You can check out the detailed curriculum for each course and pick the one that best matches your coffee training goals.
3. The IBCA
The International Coffee and Barista Academy offers a wide variety of barista training classes on anything from latte art to the perfect grind to coffee basics. You don’t need to be an expert or even an intermediate-level barista to be able to make the most of their training sessions.
You can take barista classes that begin at a foundational level, teaching you bar and drink basics, and work your way up to intermediate and professional level classes that will help you refine your barista skills into those of a near coffee master.
Of course what is also nice about IBCA is that, unlike some barista schools, they offer courses for general enthusiasts. You don’t have to be pursuing a career in coffee to study at the IBCA. You might just have a love of coffee, and you might want to find ways to brew better coffee at home.
You can register for workshops, gain a little knowledge and confidence, and wow your friends and family. You can also participate in coffee tastings to help refine your palate and be better at understanding the flavors of the coffee you drink. Just like learning about fine wine, being able to talk intelligently about coffee is a skill that is handy to have.
Choosing A Barista Program That Meets Your Goals
Barista schools are great places to sharpen your barista skills in pursuit of both personal and professional goals. Perhaps you want to learn how to open and manage your own coffee shop one day, or perhaps you just want to gain a better working knowledge of coffee brewing processes. Whatever your goals, there are plenty of training programs like these listed here that can help you achieve them.
Once you graduate from barista school you can further your education and compete in events like barista competitions if you really want a leg up when applying for jobs.
Do You Have To Go To Barista School To Get A Job?
Becoming a barista is a great job for coffee lovers, and the best part is, you don’t actually need to go to barista school to do it.
While doing so will give you leg up (and might be required in high-end coffee joints) you can get all the on-the-job training you need at most places.
So, if barista school isn’t in the cards, here’s the path you’ll want to take to get a job as quickly as possible.
What Exactly Does a Barista Do?
Long story short, a barista is someone who makes and serves coffee drinks in a coffee shop.
They take customer orders, grind beans, brew coffee, foam milk, and create specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. A good barista is fast and efficient, but also friendly and personable so they can provide excellent customer service.
What Skills Does A Barista Need?
The most important skill for a barista is the ability to make consistently good coffee drinks. This means having a strong knowledge of different brewing methods, bean types, and flavor profiles. It also requires being able to work quickly and efficiently under pressure. Other important skills for a barista include active listening, problem-solving, and attention to detail.
In other words, it’s not all that much different than other food jobs.
The best way to become a barista is through on-the-job training. Many coffee shops will hire people with little to no experience and train them on everything they need to know about making coffee drinks. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start experimenting with different brewing methods and specialty drinks.
If you want to stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs, having some prior experience in customer service or the food industry will be helpful.
At the end of the day, choosing the right barista school for you will probably come down to location and your ability to drop things and travel the country. Most schools are short so…maybe you can find a hotel and pay for it with a barista job?