Typical Roles at a Coffee Shop

A coffee shop may need a wide variety of employees depending on its size and the range of its menu. Every coffee shop will need baristas and at least one manager, but those that sell food may also require a pastry chef or chefs that can cook a full menu.

Recommended: Read our full, in-depth How to Start a Coffee Shop Business guides, inspired by coffee professionals, they will help make your coffee dreams real, from sourcing beans to hiring baristas, choosing the best POS system, forming an actual company, and everything in between.

General Manager

This is the first role you’ll need to think about when building your team. In many cases, the business owner can act as his/her own general manager.

Typical Salary: $35,000 per year

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Hiring and scheduling employees
  • Keeping track of inventory
  • Adhering to health and safety standards
  • Ensuring customer satisfaction

Who to Look For:

  • Previous management experience
  • Able to manage customers’ complaints
  • Available for many shifts, as they are an integral part of everyday business


Baristas are in charge of making coffee drinks for customers, and each coffee shop will need several baristas.

Typical Salary: Minimum wage (not including tips)

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Making coffee drinks
  • Operating cash registers
  • Washing equipment

Who to Look For:

  • No experience necessary (but trained baristas will be able to make drinks more quickly)
  • Friendly when interacting with customers

Pastry Chef

Most coffee shops serve pastries and other small snacks to complement their drinks. While you can outsource these pastries, some coffee shops choose to make them in house.

Typical Salary: $35,000 per year

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Baking pastries
  • Arranging food in display cases

Who to Look For:

  • Experience strongly preferred
  • Chefs need to arrive at work very early to ensure there are plenty of fresh pastries ready when customers arrive

Coffee Shop Hiring Tips

Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

Every coffee shop has its own appeal. Some offer fast service and a variety of imported flavors, while others create a relaxing and inviting ambiance. What kind of coffee shop do you want to open? Having a clear idea of the kind of culture you want at your cafe will help you attract the right kind of employees.

Coffee shops are typically busiest in the early morning between the hours of 8-10am. So make sure that you have enough team members to handle the morning shift.

On average, around fifteen percent of coffee shop clientele visit their preferred cafe two or more times per week. Finding employees who can leave a positive impression on customers and form warm relationships with your cafe’s “regulars” will have a significant impact on your business’ long-term success.

Recommended: Learn about The Best Coffee Education and Certification Programs, and How to Hire and Train Baristas in our in-depth guides.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Think hard about who will be your typical customer. What target market are you aiming to connect with? It is important to have this question in mind when entering the recruiting process, as you will want to look for people who will be able to relate to your customers.

Most coffee shops do well in college towns where there is a large traffic of students. Other cafes cater more to commuters, freelancers, retirees, or anyone looking for a good cup of coffee and a pleasant atmosphere. Put up recruiting flyers and notices wherever the people you want to come to your coffee shop like to go, whether it’s the local mall, gym, grocery store, library, or university campus.

Be sure that your job description accurately portrays the mood and mission of your business, as well as the roles and expected qualifications of the candidate you are looking for.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is perfectly natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most restaurant owners look for employees who are:

  • Friendly
  • Organized
  • Detail-oriented
  • Clean
  • Excellent communicators

Here are some sample interview questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work under stress. What did you do to handle the situation?
  • How would you deal with a rude customer?
  • What do you like to do in your free-time?

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

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For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll

Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

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Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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