Why is barista work such a good option for backpackers in Australia? Work is plentiful and the hours are generally flexible. The pay isn’t bad either. Sure you can slave over dishes at the back of a restaurant and work odd hours for little return, but nothing beats the thrill of making coffees for satisfied customers. It’s both glamorous and pays well and this combination is sure to satisfy most backpackers.

How hard is it to get work as a barista? Most cafés are always looking for good baristas. The hospitality industry is so transient that even though a café will not advertise, the boss is always on the lookout for someone to fill that extra shift. Modern pubs now serve espresso as do offices, art galleries, museums, outdoor venues and even schools. Baristas can find themselves working just about anywhere these days as most people today crave coffee wherever they go.

What do baristas typically earn? Around $15-$17 per hour but some cafés will pay above the award, especially for great baristas who can pump out excellently presented coffees at speed.

What are the perks of the job? Baristas can usually expect an unlimited supply of coffee on the job. Some baristas will earn tips whilst for others, the respect of their customers is reward enough. Let’s face it, most suits who have high-powered jobs and earn gazillions of dollars end up spending a lot of their spare time talking about their favourite baristas, their favourite coffee and how “no-one makes better coffee than such and such”. And the hours are generally great too, much better than working in a pub!

Sounds great. How do I become a barista? Learning a skill to get a job is the smartest thing a traveller can do. A barista certificate is not compulsory but it does put you ahead of 90 per cent of other people looking for work in cafés. It shows an employer that you have an interest in coffee and that you know the basics, and more importantly that you will be capable of making coffee from day one.

So, what does a barista course involve? A lot of disasters and the occasional masterpiece! It involves a lot of practice frothing milk and getting the texture just right so that you serve your milk-based coffees with creamy, silky milk and not “roadhouse froth”. We also teach how to make the perfect espresso. Then we put both of those elements together and make all the coffees on a typical café menu. We also teach students how to clean their machines and spend some time at the beginning of the course talking about how coffee is cultivated, roasted and blended.

Are any previous skills required? We get people with no experience doing the course, people who have worked for years in cafés who just want to brush up on their skills and people who are just interested in coffee coming along. The great thing about being a barista is that it’s one job that you can literally walk straight into and be competent in.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone interested in working as a barista? Do a course, drop the attitude, dress appropriately and remember that the customer is always right! Thanks to Matthew Gee, Principal of the Barista Basics Coffee Academy. For more info on courses, ph:1300 366 218 or visit http://www.baristabasics.com.au.