Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Barista

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

The Occupation Thesaurus helps you pick the right careers for your characters—ones that will fulfill their character arc and help (or hinder) them in the story

Occupation: Barista

Overview: A barista is someone who makes coffee and espresso drinks (though some countries, the skill may also encompass knowledge of other beverages). In many commercial and chain shops, the job entails being able to work the necessary machinery and care for customers. A barista in a specialty or independent shop may be more knowledgeable about the different types of coffee, including where the beans come from, how the plants are cultivated, and the tastes and strengths of the different roasts. They may take ownership of more of the process, such as grinding the beans and making an extra effort in the presentation.

Wherever a barista works, they’ll need to also be able to interact with customers, keep items stocked, and maintain a clean environment for guests. Because this job is often seen as a stepping stone to other opportunities (rather than a permanent career), it can be a great choice for teenagers and people in transition.

Necessary Training: No formal education is required; most training will be received on the job.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Charm, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking, promotion

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, calm, charming, cooperative, courteous, efficient, enthusiastic, honest, honorable, hospitable, kind, observant, passionate, responsible, sensible

Sources of Friction: Malfunctioning equipment, running out of supplies, employees calling in sick or not showing up with no warning, dishonest or lazy employees, micro-managing or absentee bosses, failing a health inspection, serving a customer with food allergies a drink containing an allergen, a customer slipping and falling, co-workers who don’t get along, having to work in a cramped space, demanding or difficult customers, bad PR, having a passion for coffee that the establishment doesn’t share or care about, developing an allergy or sensitivity that makes the coffeeshop a difficult place to work (e.g., becoming pregnant and not being able to stand the smell of coffee), discovering that something underhanded is going on (beans being gotten from unethical sources, etc.), pressure from one’s peers to give them free drinks

People They Might Interact With: other baristas and employees, a manager, a store owner, delivery people, customers, health inspectors

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Someone with a passion for coffee may find their enthusiasm squashed if the management is only interested in doing the same old thing. This could lead a lack of fulfillment for the barista.
  • Esteem and Recognition: It’s likely that most people would view this opportunity as a short-term job. If someone is happy doing it and wants to make a career out of it, they may find their esteem lowering in the eyes of others.
  • Safety and Security: While most retail jobs are fairly safe, a barista’s security may be at stake in the event of a robbery or if the store is located in a high-crime area.

Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, bakery, big city street, bookstore, coffeehouse, cruise ship, grocery store, hospital (interior), shopping mall, ski resort, small town street

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: 

  • This job is often a temporary one, but what might drive a character to pursue it as a long-term career?
  • To create some pizzazz for your barista, consider what you can change about the coffeeshop itself. Where would an interesting location be? What other businesses might be run out of or in conjunction with the shop (a bakery or stationary store)? What charity, like a pet rescue or mentoring program, might the owner be excited about that could be paired with the shop?

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

About BECCA PUGLISI

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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7 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Barista

  1. melanie redler says:

    I can’t remember–have you done a baker yet? Love this barista which gave me a great job for my teen character! Thanks!

  2. Tammy says:

    This thesaurus is a must! It will be so helpful for me!
    Thank you!

  3. Stephanne says:

    YESSSS!!!!! This was one of my suggestions I’d hoped to see someday!!! This whole collection is great. Thank you so much!

    • I’m so glad! We’ve gotten so many suggestions, we’ll never be able to add them all. We’re trying to include a variety of occupations across different industries, skill levels, ages, etc. I thought this one was a good fit. Thanks for sending in your suggestions!

  4. :Donna says:

    Oh, the wonderful drinks they make 🙂 My son’s become an “at home” barista with his new Nespresso machine which he LOVES!

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