To deal with the hustle and bustle of busy mornings, you'll need a staff to help run your coffee shop. Even the smallest of shops need at least a few employees.

When hiring employees, you'll not only need to think about their duties, responsibilities and pay – you'll also need to think about your standards for customer service. A coffee shop with friendly, smiling employees will help keep customers coming through the doors.

Before we get into customer service standards, let's discuss the staff you'll need to hire and how much you can expect to pay.

Staff Required for Coffee Shop

Employees are the backbone of your coffee shop. Without them – you wouldn't have a business. Even the smallest of shops are difficult to run and manage as a one-man team.

The tricky part is figuring out how much staff to hire. How many people do you need to run your shop, and which roles will they fill? Your staff will likely expand as you grow, but when you're just getting started, you'll probably need to hire:

  • Baristas
  • Manager
  • Accountant

Depending on your budget, you may choose not to hire a manager or an accountant and take care of these tasks yourself.

The number of staff needed in a coffee shop will depend on your operating hours and how much traffic your shop receives. Mornings and evenings are typically the busiest hours for coffee shops.

Unless you have a very small shop, you will likely need two baristas on each shift. If your shop is open 12 hours a day, you may need to hire 4 baristas and one or two part-time employees with flexible schedules to cover shifts if full-time employees cannot work certain days.

Figuring out how many employees to hire will be a challenge, but pay attention to your staff's behavior for clues. If you have people standing around, you probably over-hired. If your service is slow, you probably under-hired.

Coffee Shop Staff Duties and Responsibilities

Which duties and responsibilities will your coffee shop staff take on? Keep in mind that the list of staff above is just a general guideline. You may have unique roles that you want employees to fill. Maybe you want to hire a waitress to serve food to guests and clear tables, or maybe you want to have someone greet customers as they walk through the door.

If you're having trouble creating your list of staff, identify the roles you want to fill and list accompanying positions.

Working off of the list from the previous section, here are the duties and responsibilities of basic staff in a coffee shop.


Baristas run the show – or at least they should be running the show. Their job is to brew the best-tasting coffee. They're in charge of making coffee drinks.

But their job goes beyond simply brewing a pot of coffee and handing it off to a customer. Baristas also answer customer questions, and even continue their education to learn the latest advancements in the industry. They know how the machines work, and they understand how to brew coffee.

If you want a truly great barista – and to serve really great coffee – you can't just hire anyone to do the job. If you hire a teenager who could care less about coffee and is only looking for a part-time summer job, you probably won't be serving your customers the best coffee in town.

Along with brewing coffee and acting as a cashier, baristas may also be in charge of cleaning up and keeping an eye on inventory.

If your goal is to serve a truly great cup of coffee, you should look for baristas with the following qualities:

  • Knowledge about coffee
  • Reliable and honest
  • Excellent people skills
  • A passion for serving
  • Inventory management skills
  • Excellent pouring skills
  • Latte art aficionado

While all of these skills are important, personality is, arguably, the most important thing. Coffee-making skills can be taught to anyone, but to provide a great customer experience, you need a barista who is friendly and enthusiastic with great people skills.


Coffee shop managers run the day-to-day operations of a coffee shop. From staff training to enforcing customer service standards, managing inventory and taking care of financial matters, managers have a number of job duties.

Managers must:

  • Keep track of inventory
  • Ensure employees are keep up with their cleaning assignments
  • Handle customer disputes
  • Supervise employees
  • Find replacements for employees who call out
  • Be in charge of coffee shop staff shift planning

Finding someone with good managerial skills can be a challenge, but it's worth the time and effort to find a person who will reliably run your store and work with your best interests in mind.

Many coffee shop owners will take on this role when first launching their shop.


An accountant will take care of your books, taxes, payroll and other financial matters. Many coffee shop owners also take on the role of accountant when first launching their business. Once the business starts growing and financial matters become more complex, they hire an accountant.

How to Estimate Staff Cost Coffee Shop

You've identified the roles you want to fill in your coffee shop, but how much will you pay your staff? Of course, you're free to pay employees as much or as little as your state allows (i.e. minimum wage). It's important to find a balance so that you're paying enough to reduce employee turn-over, but not so much that you're strapped for cash.

Analyzing the pay rates at other coffee shops can help you determine how much to pay your own staff.

How Much Do Coffee Shops Pay?

How much do coffee shop staff make? That depends on the establishment and the location of the shop. After doing some research, we gathered salary information from some of the most popular coffee shops to provide you with the average nationwide hourly rate:

  • Baristas: $8-$12/hour; average base pay of $22,611/year
  • General manager: $14-$16/hour
  • Assistant manager: $12-$14/hour
  • Cashier: $7.25-$9/hour
  • Baker: $7.25-$10/hour

Estimating the Costs of Your Staff

Let's use the figures above to determine how much you would spend on just a basic staff. Our example shop will be open 6 hours a day, five days a week. Our shop will have three baristas and a manager. That equates to four employees.

In one week, the shop would have 90 hours of labor for baristas and 30 hours of labor for the manager. Let's say our shop will pay our baristas $11/hour and our manager $14/hour.

Each week, we'd pay $990 to our baristas and $420 to our manager. In total, we'd pay $1,410 per week to staff.

Along with basic compensation, we will also need to account for payroll taxes.

Remember that you may not need to hire this many baristas, and you may also choose to take on the role of manager. In this case, you would spend much less on staff costs.

Coffee Shop Customer Service Standards

Along with hiring your staff and figuring out how much you'll pay each employee, you also need to consider your customer service standards. A coffee shop that cares for customer service will have more repeat customers.

Remember that coffee shops are typically busiest in the mornings – when people are not at their best and usually on their way to work. These customers want to be greeted by friendly, courteous and helpful staff.

If your staff acts like they don't care about their job or the customer, you'll have a hard time gaining repeat customers.

How to Provide Great Customer Service in a Coffee Shop

Many successful coffee shops take the "surprise and delight" marketing approach, which helps to provide excellent customer service (more on this soon). But excellent customer service goes beyond surprising and delighting your customers.

Providing excellent service means:

Providing Exceptional Products

Exceptional coffee speaks for itself. Offering the best quality coffee, drink ingredients, milk and syrups will provide a superior cup of coffee that will delight customers.

Customers can forgive a not-so-friendly staff if they're rewarded with the best cup of coffee they've ever had.

Hiring a Friendly, Knowledgeable Staff

In many cases, coffee shops get repeat business because their staff creates a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. It's also important for your staff to be knowledgeable about the products you offer. They should be able to answer customer questions about brewing methods, products used and other aspects of your shop without having to speak to the manager (or you).

Greeting Customers

Customers want to feel valued. Greeting each patron who walks through the door can go a long way in making each customer feel important.

Knowing Your Customers

Most coffee shops have "regulars," or customers who come in on a regular basis. When your staff knows and remembers regulars and their orders, it makes them feel special and also increases the speed at which you serve them.

Be Generous – Surprise and Delight

Be generous, and you'll naturally surprise and delight your customers. Here are some ideas:

  • Include free treats with coffees, like a mini biscotti or a piece of chocolate.
  • Provide free water.
  • Bring drinks to customers.
  • Pick regulars out of the crowd, and make them feel special.
  • Provide drink recommendations.
  • Give free coffees to first-time customers.
  • Hold customer appreciation days.

Customer service is crucial in the coffee shop industry. To ensure excellent service, you need to ensure that you hire staff who are friendly, enthusiastic and passionate about coffee.


Learn more on how to open a coffee shop: