These days, coffee is a beverage that has gone through a true renaissance. It now shares the spotlight with other beverages like craft beer and wine as one of the most popular artisan beverages in the world. Instant coffee is no longer the biggest driver of retail sales when it comes to coffee, with many coffee lovers today taking a more culinary approach when it comes to the coffee that they drink, along with an interest in the origin, roasting, and brewing method of the coffee. Often referred to as third wave coffee, the culinary approach has led to over 1.3bn cups of coffee consumed worldwide, and this beverage becoming huge business. According to research, coffee that is ready to drink accounts for around $60-80bn of sales annually around the world.
Jobs in the coffee industry today are no longer mainly part-time work options or options for working in-between jobs, but rather there are lots of longer-term, full-time career options offered. While corporate coffee chains do take up the majority of the coffee business in the world today, there has been an increase in independent coffee shops and roasters. And when you consider the need for wholesalers, vending suppliers, coffee equipment, and retails, there are plenty of different opportunities to consider for anybody who is thinking about getting a job in the coffee industry.
A larger coffee roasting company will usually have a production manager. To work in this role, it’s usually necessary that the person working in this role has experience in managing the workflow in manufacturing. They need to be able to maintain communications between packaging operators, coffee roasters, customer service, and shipping.
Responsibilities in this role include:
- Operating multiple machines for packaging tea and coffee
- Supporting the process of handling and roasting green coffee
- Operating all packaging equipment types
- Troubleshooting equipment failures and managing the efficiency of production
- Making sure that Good Manufacturing Practices are upheld and maintained
This role in the coffee industry involves working under and reporting directly to the head roaster or production manager and is sometimes known as a roasting assistant role. Working in this role is an ideal way to learn about all the different aspects of the coffee industry and brings with it a range of tasks involved in the full process of producing coffee all the way to shipping. There are many levels available in this role from entry level to more advanced management positions.
Responsibilities in this role include:
- Labeling boxes and bags
- Coffee order fulfilment
- Making sure that all orders are filled, packed, and shipped on time
- Tracking inventory levels and communicating this with the production manager
- Performing regular maintenance of production equipment
If you love coffee and are also interested in science, working as a coffee roaster might be an ideal job for you to consider. For many people who decide to work in this role, roasting coffee is about much more than simply loving this beverage. They are often very attracted to the science of roasting that appeals to their creativity and intuition, and the challenge of evaluating different coffees throughout the process of roasting and cupping is what leads them to work in this role. A coffee roaster needs to be an expert in every aspect of the coffee production process. Simply roasting coffee is just one responsibility that comes with working in this position. Roasters will often assist with acquiring green coffee, blending roasts, packaging coffee, and managing quality control.
Some responsibilities in a head roaster role include:
- Maintaining inventory levels for the coffee business
- Training staff for production operations
- Tracking inventory levels of both green and roasted coffee
- Managing the roasting schedule
- Hosting cuppings for the green coffee buying program
- Conducting roasting experiments
Coffee Cupper or Taster
If you want a career where you’re paid to drink coffee every day, this could be ideal for you. However, there is a lot more to it than that. A professional coffee taster, known as a cupper, needs to be able to assess the quality of the coffee objectively, identify and evaluate the various coffee attributes, and detect any defects. They will also need to be familiar with accepted industry terminology in order to articulate and communicate the characteristics of the coffee to others.
Q Grader Certification: To work as a professional taster or cupper, you will need to get the Q Grader Certification which will lead to Q grader jobs. This was designed to create a credible and skilled body of specialty coffee cuppers by the Coffee Quality Institute. It lasts for six days and involves exercises and exams that you will need to pass before you qualify.
Green Coffee Buyer
A green coffee buyer works in a role where they are responsible for determining the coffees that are going to be purchased by a roasting company. They need to have a strong working knowledge of coffee along with the ability to build and maintain relationships between the coffee farmers and the roaster. While the role may give you the chance to travel internationally and visit coffee farmers in various parts of the world, the role isn’t just one huge vacation as you will be spending a lot of this time sampling coffees, coordinating sales and handling paperwork. You can get into this role with a green coffee buyer apprenticeship.
The role involves:
- Managing supplier relationships
- Checking coffee quality, prices, and purchasing contracts
- Managing inventory
- Storing and transporting the coffee
- Managing protocol for shipping and processing
- Managing quality control
A mechanical technician is responsible for all the roasting, packaging, brewing, and dispensing equipment used. This is often a fast-paced role involving in-house work and field work. If you enjoy mechanics and are interested in working in a fast-paced work environment where you’re dealing with a range of different things every day, working as a mechanical technician might be an ideal choice for you. When working in this role, you will be required to have good communication skills as you will be dealing directly with the customer for installing equipment, providing maintenance, exchanging equipment, and emergency services. Many larger coffee equipment companies hire a roaster technician and there may be multiple levels available when it comes to this type of work, all the way from apprenticeship and entry-level positions to more advanced supervisory and management roles. The roaster technician is involved in assembling and maintaining coffee roasting machines and is required to have a strong knowledge of gas system assembly and testing, along with electro-mechanical assembly.
The role requires:
- Troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining equipment
- Installing and un-installing equipment
- Maintaining an equipment and service parts inventory
If you love preparing coffee, then working as a barista could be perfect for you. In the service industry, the barista has a double responsibility when it comes to making sure that customers get a good impression of the business that they are purchasing coffee from. Not only do baristas need to provide good customer service and engage the customer, but they are also preparing a complex beverage that needs to be just right. Many coffee shops and cafes hire baristas who have little to no experience and train them on the job. When first starting out, you can expect to earn a lower end wage. However, if you decide to get into a more professional career as a barista, there are various certification programs and additional training courses to consider, and depending on where you end up working, being a barista can end up paying more than you might expect. You can find various barista positions, freelance barista jobs and well-paid barista jobs for those with additional coffee qualifications like SCA coffee jobs.
Coffee Shop Manager
A coffee shop manager is responsible for inspiring baristas and other staff members to ensure that each and every customer gets a positive experience. They’re also responsible for growing the sales of the coffee shop and ensuring that it runs smoothly. Most of the time, local coffee shops hire people who already have some experience with retail or restaurant management experience, and it’s usually desirable that you have some basic barista skills before you start, although many coffee shops and chains will provide training to managers too.
Responsibilities in this role include:
- Hitting sales goals
- Controlling operation expenses
- Recruiting, hiring, and training employees
- Developing and maintaining supplier and vendor relationships
Today, there has been some awesome growth in the specialty coffee industry, particularly in the independent sector. This has brought about a growing need for experienced marketing professionals for each type of coffee business. In coffee marketing, you will be working to develop strategies for product campaigns, loyalty programs, advertising in the premises, digital media, promotional advertising, loyalty programs and more. No matter the size of the business, every coffee roaster, coffee shop, and other coffee company that opens increases the competition, leading to a situation where marketing professionals are more necessary than ever before to help businesses create an identity that sets them apart from the crowd.
When it comes to working in the coffee industry, there are several job options to consider whether you are interested in a job based on customer service, the mechanical side of coffee production, or marketing for coffee companies.