Voice: Good morning, Yumi. I’d like to talk to you about your job, if I may.
Yumi: No problem!
Voice: You’ve been working as a barista for almost two years. Let’s talk about that word first: “barista”. It’s printed across the front of your apron. It’s not a common word. Where does it come from, and what does it mean?
Yumi: The word “barista” is Italian, and it means “bartender”, someone who serves drinks in a bar. But in recent years, the world of coffee has claimed the word for itself.
Voice: So, everyone who works in a coffee shop can call themselves a barista?
Yumi: Ah, well, a lot of coffee shop employees call themselves baristas, but they aren’t really. Being a true barista is a profession, not a mere job. It requires specialist knowledge and training.
Voice: You need to be trained to serve a mug of coffee?
Yumi: The profession of barista is much more than serving customers a mug of coffee! Coffee is complicated, and you have to know all about it before you become a barista.
Voice: I had no idea! Maybe you could tell us about your primary job duties.
Yumi: Certainly. The main job of a barista is to make the wide variety of coffee drinks we offer. We use different sorts of beans, and we have to understand the type of taste each blend of beans gives. We have to understand coffee. Did you know that the coffee bean isn’t a bean at all? It’s a fruit like a lychee or grape.
The coffee machines we use are highly complicated pieces of equipment and we have to know how to use them. And we have to understand how to mix the ingredients in a drink like matcha latte.
Of course, in most coffee shops, baristas also have to take orders at the till, clear the tables when customers leave rubbish there, and keep the shop tidy.
Our coffee company gives a barista two weeks’ training before we go on the shop floor. And there are further qualifications you can take if you want. We learn all about coffee and customer service.
Voice: And what about the customers?
Yumi: Most are brilliant. But one or two can be a bit rude. I don’t like it when a customer is talking to you ordering drinks and talking on the phone at the same time. I think that’s just bad manners!
Voice: I totally agree! Now, have you heard of Poursteady?
Yumi: Is it the nickname of a famous barista? Some baristas become famous. They are highly knowledgable about coffee, and win competitions for outstanding baristas.
Voice: Well, yes in a way. A coffee shop has just opened in Shibuya, a trendy area of Tokyo, where the baristas are robots.
Yumi: Oh, no!
Voice: The robot that welcomes customers at the door can communicate with people. The chief barista-robot is called Poursteady, and he can make and serve seven different coffee options and can cope with making multiple mugs of coffee at the same time.
Yumi: That sounds horrible! I think people who go to coffee shops will always want the friendly human service that we offer. The technology is impressive, but I don’t think Poursteady is any threat to my job!