10 Reasons Why Starbucks Baristas Make Awesome Bartenders

I believe in full transparency, so for those of you who don’t know me, I help people become bartenders. It’s one of the main things I do, which is how this whole experiment with Starbuck’s began about a year ago.

If you want to learn more about how to become a bartender like my other former barista students have done, CLICK HERE to see how I guide my students to the promised land very quickly. You’ll need to see if registration is open right now, as we only open it every few weeks for a short period of time.

The fact of the matter is, I love Starbuck’s. I don’t really drink the coffee there because if I’m spending $5 for liquid in a cup it’ll be for a beer or really cheap whiskey, and not sugar-bloated sludge.

However, I love the FEEL of Starbuck’s. I’ll tag along with my wife just so I can hang out.  Despite their obvious corporate dominance, it doesn’t feel corporate. They’ve done a masterful job of creating an atmosphere that makes you want to lounge for a few hours and steal their wi-fi.

In addition, they always have all sorts of nooks and crannies to sit in, and I’ve even been in some of their locations that have a comfy chair or two that belong in a master study in your house, where you might sit in a smoking jacking reading Tolstoy with a cigar and a snifter of brandy.

But the thing I’ve always noticed about this mega-conglomerate coffee house is their staff. It was about a year ago when I was in one of the Starbuck’s with my wife, waiting for her non-fat-skinny-chai-frappuccino-double-espresso-shot-extra-chocolate-extra-hot-latte the other day, that I started to marvel at what little efficiency machines they were.

Not that I didn’t already know this. I have watched them casually before, but now I started comparing them to some of the garbage bartenders I’ve witnessed while out with friends, and I couldn’t help but think that if they were working for me, I wouldn’t even have to train them that much. They were already doing most of the things that my staff was doing, but instead of being rewarded for it, they were making A LOT less money doing it. I’m talking the difference of $10/hr. to $50/hr.

It seems they don’t realize just how valuable they are, so they often stay stuck in the same job making the same low-income, yet they provide such remarkable service.

That’s when I made a decision to start targeting Starbuck’s employees to become bartenders and take my course, and within a couple of months, I had a long list of Starbuck’s baristas becoming bartenders and changing their lives around. It was AWESOME!

It’s always nice when an experiment pans out, but it wasn’t just me. Starbuck’s must have a great training program, because the transition is practically seamless for them.

With that said, let’s look at why it’s so seamless, and while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and count down from 10 to 1 David Letterman style, because I miss Dave’s blatant sarcasm and back-handed wit. He deserves a tribute as special as this.


10. They’re used to being on their feet for long hours. In some professions you sit in a cubicle all day, or sell cars in the show room, or spend time on a roof hammering tile nails in the 98 degree heat. Baristas and bartenders both move quickly on their feet for 6 – 8 hours at a time which is right up their ally, because they don’t like sitting and they don’t like roofing in July.

9. They already know how to use a POS system and cash register. Seems like small potatoes, but if you’re experience is more in the area of typing out reports, using a POS system and handling cash and end-of-shift reports would be completely foreign to you.

8. They’re used to working in crowded spaces. Baristas and bartenders are like those little worker ants who scurry around looking for pieces of whatever so they can stock up for the winter. If you watch them, they bump into each other briefly before moving on quickly to their next task. Same thing with baristas and bartenders: they move between and around each other quickly and efficiently to make sure their guests don’t go empty in the winter…or other seasons.

7. They are fast, with a sense of urgency. This piggy-backs on #8. This is why I believe the Starbuck’s training program is probably pretty good, because people in general don’t hustle on their own. They need a supervisor or a coach or a really good whipping to put them in that frame of mind. We all know that bartenders can get crazy-busy making drinks in a high-volume bar, but I’ve seen Starbuck’s baristas move with the best of them to get the drinks out, which is just plain good customer service.

6. They’re well-trained. I know I’ve already said this one, but it needs its own spot on the list because it’s important. In TheRealBarcourse, I teach people with absolutely no experience how to become bartenders quickly, and we have a high-success rate, so you can imagine what a well-trained, fast-moving barista could do,

5. They have energy. Don’t overlook this one. Not to bag on Walmart and the jobs they provide, but have you ever received “good” energy or a positive vibe from the staff? I know they have great prices and all, but by the time I walk out with my deodorant and toothpaste, I feel a sort of depression seeping into my pores. No energy. When you walk into Starbuck’s, or a bar/club that’s really poppin’, you feel a good energy, and it’s because the staff is hustling and bustling and smiling and they at least make you feel like you matter.

4. They have a good memory. Have you ever walked into a Starbuck’s and noticed that the person taking the orders knows the name of about half the people who walk in? Not to mention they are looking at tickets and busting out multiple drinks at a time. You can’t do that if you have to keep looking back and referring to the print outs or people would never get their drinks. Same thing with bartending. As a bartender, you should be able to hold 10 drinks in your head that were ordered at one time and then go bust them out. Practice with this makes it easier.

3. They mix stuff together, just like bartenders do. It’s true. They blend together more frothy concoctions before 9:00 a.m. than cocktails made in one night by a bartender at a Miami nighclub. All they need to do to make the transition is mix different liquids in different containers, but it’s the same concept.

2. They multitask. This is one of the most important skills a bartender can have, which is why it’s listed at #2 obviously. I have (regretfully) hired bartenders who can only make one drink at a time before they take the next order, and it kills sales…and their tips. From what I’ve witnessed, Starbuck’s baristas can multitask with the best of them.

And the #1 reason why Starbuck’s employees make awesome bartenders is….

1. Because their friendly-can-do-service-oriented attitude is off the frickin’ charts. I really should use the full swear word here because it’s aptly appropriate. Whatever Starbuck’s is doing to train their staff, I want to steal it and keep it in my pocket forever, because it works. They greet you immediately when you walk in, they smile, they joke, they laugh, they know your name if you’re a regular. They deliver your drinks quickly and they do it over and over again. I am a deep believer that customer service is the #1 factor bar owners and managers need to be focusing on to keep their place (or make their place) a hot spot.

I love Starbuck’s employees. I love hiring Starbuck’s employees at my bar. I love recruiting Starbuck’s employees at my bar.

If you want to find out if you have what it takes, simply click on the link below.

CLICK HERE to check out TheRealBarCourse

If not, keep making those lattes, baby because my wife certainly appreciates you!

Thanks for hanging out.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB

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