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Barista Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated December 26th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 25
How important is it to keep the barista station clean during your shift?
View Answers
How to Answer
The interviewer wants to hear that you understand it is essential to keep the barista station clean and tidy at all times. Tell the interviewer that it is imperative to keep the barista station clean during your shift for a variety of reasons.

From a health perspective, it is essential to keep it sanitary. From a work environment perspective, everyone enjoys working in a tidy environment. From a customer perspective, customers want to know their beverages are made in a well-kept sanitary environment; it creates a level of respect for the customer.

Be sure to mention where you have noticed a barista keeping their station clean. Did you see the barista at your local coffee shop wiping down the counter frequently during your last visit?
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25 Barista Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. How important is it to keep the barista station clean during your shift?
  2. What is the first thing you noticed when you walked into our coffee shop?
  3. What is a Caf? Breva, and why can it be challenging to make?
  4. Tell me about a time when you received criticism from your manager. How did you react?
  5. Would you give someone you know a free coffee?
  6. Tell me about a time when you mixed up a clients' order. How did you fix the situation?
  7. Name for me the main types of coffee beans.
  8. What is the difference between a Macchiato, a Latte Macchiato, and a Cappuccino?
  9. Some people are very intense about their coffee orders! If you could not make a customer happy, what would you do?
  10. How well is your memory? Have you ever had to memorize a list of items before?
  11. Since you have never worked in a coffee shop before, how do you know you will like it?
  12. If a customer said they wanted a double double, what are they referring to?
  13. What do you think are the primary tasks of a barista?
  14. Would you be upset if a customer ordered three drinks and left without tipping?
  15. How do you define good customer service?
  16. When you visit our coffee shop, what do you order?
  17. How do you make a Caf? Latte?
  18. How well do you remember names?
  19. Are you able to work a few hours straight without taking a break?
  20. How well do you handle multiple tasks at once, while remembering names of customers and their complicated drinks?
  21. What would you do if a customer asked you about the ingredients in a food or beverage, and you were unsure of the answer?
  22. What tools do you need to deliver excellent customer service?
  23. How do you prevent stress from your personal life entering your professional life?
  24. How do you get along with others at work?
  25. Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
Answer Examples
1.
How important is it to keep the barista station clean during your shift?
The interviewer wants to hear that you understand it is essential to keep the barista station clean and tidy at all times. Tell the interviewer that it is imperative to keep the barista station clean during your shift for a variety of reasons.

From a health perspective, it is essential to keep it sanitary. From a work environment perspective, everyone enjoys working in a tidy environment. From a customer perspective, customers want to know their beverages are made in a well-kept sanitary environment; it creates a level of respect for the customer.

Be sure to mention where you have noticed a barista keeping their station clean. Did you see the barista at your local coffee shop wiping down the counter frequently during your last visit?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I noticed the last few times, visiting your coffee shop, that the barista station is much cleaner than many other local coffee shops. It's vital that a station is clean and tidy so that all health codes are met and exceeded, and so that customers feel comfortable and willing to return time and time again."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a clean and tidy person, and I also have food safety training so you can rest assured that I would uphold your high standards of cleanliness. I have been to a few coffee shops in the area, and your shop is by far the cleanest. I would be very proud to work here."
2.
What is the first thing you noticed when you walked into our coffee shop?
Many interviewers will ask this question to see how observant and engaged you are. If you are genuinely interested in working for this coffee shop, you will have noticed some of the great things about them when you first entered the building. Keep your response light and positive! This question is not the time to begin criticizing or offering suggestions on how to improve.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The first thing I noticed when walking into your coffee shop, was that your employees are all cheerful, the store is clean and well stocked, and organized. I appreciate that there is so much care that goes into the appearance, and ambiance of this coffee shop. I look forward to being a part of it!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The first time I walked into your shop I noticed that you have a lot of nice options for product upselling such as coffee beans, gourmet teas, biscuits, and other delicious food items. Customers want choice, and you certainly offer that."
3.
What is a Caf? Breva, and why can it be challenging to make?
The interviewer would like to know that you understand the difference between a cappuccino and a Breva. Sometimes, there are minimal differences between drinks, but a great barista is just like a bartender - able to know the small nuances between drinks. If you know how to make a Caf? Breva, walk the interviewer through it, and discuss why you believe it's harder to make than some drinks. If you do not know how to make a Caf? Breva, that is okay. It's then important you express to the interviewer that you are eager to learn.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Rather than using milk, a Caf? Breva uses half and half. Sometimes, a Caf? Breva is ordered with half-and-half as well as regular milk. From my experience, this drink can be a challenge to prepare since it's more difficult to get half-and-half to foam. It's best to steam and froth the half-and-half to around 150 degrees, then allow it time to set."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am not familiar with a Caf? Breva, but my best guess is that it is close to a cappuccino. There are many drinks that I know, and many I have yet to learn. I am eager to become a top barista and look forward to learning more!"
4.
Tell me about a time when you received criticism from your manager. How did you react?
This question is another way for an interviewer to ask you what your weaknesses may be. When you are thinking about examples of criticism, it's best to show that you want to grow as an employee and that you can handle constructive criticism professionally. Feedback from a manager helps you learn and improve the quality of your work. Give examples that would not make you exempt from the role. For instance, if you are interviewing to be a barista, you do not want to mention that your manager said you were terrible at interacting with customers!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my most recent performance review, my manager asked me to be a bit less chatty with the customers. I understand that we need to speed up the line, especially at peak times like in the mornings. With that said, they also appreciate the fact that I remember customers' names and work to make a genuine connection with them. I now continue to be my friendly self, but I am better at moving the line along."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"It's important that I take manager feedback and implement it right away. This strategy is best for becoming better at my job, resulting in career growth. The last time I received criticism from my manager, he asked me to learn a greater variety of drinks. After that, I started to watch YouTube videos from renowned baristas. These videos helped, and my manager quickly noticed the difference in my confidence behind the counter."
5.
Would you give someone you know a free coffee?
You understand that ethics are fundamental in a place of business, and the interviewer wants to hear that you will appropriately charge each customer for their order. The response to this question should always be no, you would never give away free product, even if it were a simple cup of coffee.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My friends know my job is more important than free coffee. If a friend asked me to do something that selfish for them, I wouldn't even be their friend. I have strong ethics, and you can fully trust me to be responsible and honest."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Giving away product, no matter how inexpensive, is still stealing. If I wanted to treat my friend to something, I would do so as a paying customer, when I was not on shift. You can rest assured that I am honest and ethical. My references will attest to this as well."
6.
Tell me about a time when you mixed up a clients' order. How did you fix the situation?
Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. The interviewer knows that too and is asking this question to see how you handle situations when you make mistakes. Give an example that demonstrates how you took responsibility for your error and fixed it. Also, include what you learned from the experience as a result. Sometimes learning from our mistakes allows us to gain some valuable tools.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I first started my current job, I was a bit overwhelmed with the variety of drinks our customers ordered. One day, I mixed up three orders in a row. It wasn't because I didn't know how to make the drinks. It was because I wasn't actively listening, due to nerves. I made a Caf? Mocha instead of a Caf? au lait. Then, a Frappuccino instead of a Caramel Macchiato. I apologized profusely and quickly repaired the situation by making the correct drinks and offering to pay for the ones I made in error. Now, I am sure to actively listen to every customer as they place their specific orders."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Luckily I have never mixed up an order related to a food allergy; however, in my first year as a server, there were a couple of instances where I forgot how a customer wanted their steak done or the accompaniments they chose. I started to write down my orders, and then as I learned the menu and gathered memorization and recall techniques, I was able to better rely on my memory. Of course, when I have mixed up orders in the past, I assume the blame, apologize, and repair the situation as soon as possible."
7.
Name for me the main types of coffee beans.
If you are a real coffee nut, you likely know there are a variety of beans available. The interviewer wants to know how much experience you have with coffee. How you respond will show the hiring authority how much training will be necessary if you are selected for the job. Share what you know. If you don't know a lot, that is okay! It's important to show you have a genuine willingness to learn.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"From my research and training I know there are four main types of coffee beans including Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica. The woody taste and rarity of Liberica beans mean they are not as popular, or readily available. Arabica is the most common bean used in North American coffee shops, accounting for around 60% of the coffee brewed today."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am not a coffee expert; however I do know that Robusta and Arabica are the two types of coffee beans most often found brewed in coffee shops today. Robusta is as its name suggest - robust flavor and hearty. Arabica is more delicate and best for coffee drinkers who like a smooth coffee without cream or sugar."
8.
What is the difference between a Macchiato, a Latte Macchiato, and a Cappuccino?
Before your interview, you should study a few of the most common drinks a barista will be asked to make. It can be hit or miss if an interviewer will ask direct questions like this, but it's best to come prepared anyways. Knowing these basic drinks will show you are either a coffee fan, or you care enough about the interview to come ready beforehand.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The difference in these drinks may be the ingredients, or something as simple as how they are layered. For instance, a latte macchiato is steamed milk, then espresso, then milk foam. A cappuccino has espresso, then steamed milk, and then milk foam. The same ingredients, just a different order! To make a macchiato, take your espresso and top it off with a small amount of steamed milk."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I understand, as a coffee lover, that there are small but significant differences in these drinks. It takes a lot of work to learn them all; however, I can say with confidence that I know how to prepare the majority of drinks on your menu. When it comes to a macchiato versus a latte macchiato, and a cappuccino, it's primarily the order of how the ingredients are layered in the cup. A macchiato is the simplest, just espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. A latte macchiato holds steamed milk first, and then espresso topped with milk foam. Where a cappuccino starts with espresso, topped with steamed milk, then milk foam."
9.
Some people are very intense about their coffee orders! If you could not make a customer happy, what would you do?
It is essential that you can turn most customers around; however, this will not be the case 100% of the time. The interviewer would like to see that you have the sense to offer a solution while keeping the company's best interest in mind at the same time. Discuss what you would do to make sure a customer was taken care of while keeping in mind that, at times, situations need escalating to upper management. Also, there may be times when customer satisfaction cannot be achieved. Talk about how you come to terms with that.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"You win some; you lose some and one of the first things I learned while training as a barista, was that you would have an upset customer at times, no matter how hard you try. In these instances, I will ask my manager to step in and help. Usually, a fresh face with fresh ideas will be enough to help a customer to ease up a bit."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I could not make a customer happy I would escalate the situation to my manager, or another coworker who was perhaps better with customer dispute resolution. I understand that you cannot make everyone happy at all times, but I will certainly try my best. I do make great coffee and can follow even the most complicated instructions very well."
10.
How well is your memory? Have you ever had to memorize a list of items before?
Baristas learn very quickly how to memorize a list of products and customer orders while they multi-task through making beverages and cafe items. Interviewers want to hear that you are confident you can take on the task of memorizing a list of things to ensure you will be successful in your job. Often, being positive about taking on the mission is half the battle! Tell the interviewer if you are accustomed to memorizing a list of items. Next, share that you look forward to memorizing lists of items and customer orders as a barista.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe my memory is above the norm. At my last position, I had to memorize the entire menu before I even attended my first serving job. I am happy to do the same here if you have any take-home material for me."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am good at memorizing menu items. I know it makes the job easier, the more drink items I can commit to memory. I am motivated and excited to get started, so, I have already taken the time to comb through your online menu, learning the basics."
11.
Since you have never worked in a coffee shop before, how do you know you will like it?
The interviewer is trying to understand more about your desires when it comes to your job and workplace environment. Your response will help the interviewer understand how much training you will need if hired for the job, and if being trained as a barista is best for you. If you have worked in customer service, restaurants, or retail-based roles, share where you worked, your job title, your day-to-day responsibilities, and how long you worked there. Be sure to mention how that work aligns with the requirements of this role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Although I have not worked in a coffee shop before, over the last month, I have been practicing the craft of making lattes and other fun coffee drinks, at home. I love fancy coffee! I have been a regular at your establishment, and when I saw the job opening, I knew this would be an excellent opportunity for me. I do have customer service experience from my part-time role as a hostess and believe that my training would lend itself very well to the standards you uphold here."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a friend who works at your coffee shop and, the way she describes the workplace culture, the loyal clients, and the close-knit family feel of your team, how could I not love working here! I am looking for a fast-paced job where I can keep busy and feel like I am part of something positive."
12.
If a customer said they wanted a double double, what are they referring to?
In the coffee world, there is specific lingo that is attached to certain coffee shops and franchises. A double-double is a term that originated from Tim Hortons, meaning double cream and double sugar. Show the interviewer that you are familiar with the coffee lingo by giving other favorite examples.

"If a customer were to order a 'double-double' I would know they are asking for double cream and double sugar. This order makes a regular drip coffee sweet, and creamy. Many terms come from other coffee shops, just like some people will order a grande, I know they are using the Starbucks terms for a 16-ounce coffee drink."
Rachelle's Answer #1
"If a customer were to order a 'double-double' I would know they are asking for double cream and double sugar. This order makes a regular drip coffee sweet, and creamy. Many terms come from other coffee shops, just like some people will order a grande, I know they are using the Starbucks terms for a 16-ounce coffee drink."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am not familiar with the term double-double, but if I had to guess, I would think it means two cream and two sugar. There are many coffee terms that I am aware of, and I will be sure to learn others as I have further barista training."
13.
What do you think are the primary tasks of a barista?
Surprisingly enough, many people will apply for jobs even when they do not understand the scope of the work. The interviewer would like to know that you genuinely understand what it takes to be a barista. Some of the more common tasks of a barista include:

- Take customer orders
- Make specialty coffee drinks
- Serve pastries and other menu items
- Describe menu items to customers
- Create to-go orders
- Clean and tidy the prep areas and coffee shop
- Upsell new products and promote seasonal menu items
- Deliver exceptional customer service

Show the interviewer that you have a full understanding of the work by referring to the job posting or job description, discussing how you are excited about the opportunity and responsibilities.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"From your job posting, I believe the primary tasks of this role will be to deliver the best customer service possible, take and create specialty coffee and tea drinks, while also upselling other items such as pastries and breakfast sandwiches. I look forward to learning everything that required of me in this role."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I understand that a barista is a very busy role, requiring one to take orders, remember the small details of a drink, upsell customers on new or seasonal products, all while keeping the shop tidy and organized. I look forward to the buzz of working here, and learning even more of the responsibilities of a barista."
14.
Would you be upset if a customer ordered three drinks and left without tipping?
The interviewer wants to see that you will approach work with a joyful attitude, rather than showing up with a chip on your shoulder. Baristas understand that not receiving a tip is part of the nature of the job. Share that while tips are a nice perk of being a barista, you know that not everyone tips at the coffee shop.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"No, I would not be upset if someone left without tipping. Many people do not tip their barista, and I have noticed at places like Starbucks, there is no tip option on the debit machines when you pay by card. I make sure not to factor in tips as part of my required income, so I am happy and thankful for any tips I make!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my current barista role, I would say that 40% of customers tip. I genuinely do not believe that it's a common practice for most people since a coffee shop stop is usually a quick grab and go. I am appreciative of any tips; however, I would never expect them."
15.
How do you define good customer service?
Every customer related job position you are interviewing for, will like have at least one question focused on when you have delivered excellent customer service. You should come prepared to talk about at least three times when you have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help a customer.

Excellent customer service goes beyond doing precisely as your expected, and it's more than having a smile on your face when the customer is looking. Excellent customer service means that you actively seek out the opportunity to deliver more than the standard. It means thoroughly listening to your customers when they tell you what they need. Also, it equals offering support when your customer may be a little bit in over their head. Be sure to echo the jargon used on the coffee shop website and social media accounts when it comes to keywords related to their customer service mantra. Keep your answer brief but ensure that it packs a punch.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I define good customer service as actively seeking out opportunities to give the customer a better experience than they expect. I was working at a restaurant, and one of my customers had a food allergy, a broken wrist, and rowdy kids. I made sure the kitchen was cautious with her food order, and I took some time to entertain the kids. I did my best to make the experience as easy for her as possible. She was pleased with her experience and told my manager too."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Kate Zabriskie, the author of Business Training Works, once said, 'The customers' perception is your reality.' To me, this means that if my customers think that I do not care about them, or that their experience wasn't friendly, then they are correct. Excellent customer service starts with proper training and setting high standards for your front-line workers from the get-go."
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