When choosing a career, people are often advised to do something that they are passionate about. Someone who spends their time leafing through fashion magazines and following the latest trends, for example, would probably be best suited to a career designing clothes. Likewise, someone who loves animals might consider becoming a vet or an animal groomer, while someone who enjoys working with numbers could potentially make a successful accountant.
But if you’re truly passionate about coffee in all its forms (whether it’s a latte, cappuccino, frappe, espresso or Americano), then pursuing a career in the coffee industry is definitely a no-brainer.
There are plenty options available to coffee lovers just like you – from buying coffee beans in countries like Brazil and Vietnam to serving people their daily fix of caffeine – and we’ve compiled the best jobs for you to help you get started.
Barista is an obvious first choice.
You can start your career as a barista by getting a job in a big chain or a smaller, independent coffee shop, where you’ll learn all about grinding coffee beans and providing caffeine addicts with their daily fix.
Coffee giants like Starbucks are continuously hiring new employees, so getting a job there should be relatively easy. They offer baristas a plethora of amazing benefits, including being paid at least the national living wage rate, an interest-free loan to put towards a rental deposit which is to be repaid through their salary over 12 months, as well as the choice of taking home a bag of whole bean coffee, a box of tea or a 12 pack of VIA Ready Brew each week.
With time and experience, you could become a store manager and then move on to a regional manager role. You could even find work in a high-end restaurant or hotel, or you could choose to set up your own coffee shop.
Salary: £8,000 up to £20,000
2. Coffee taster
You can taste wine, ice cream, pet food and yes even coffee for a living too.
A career in coffee tasting, or cupping, which is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee, means you’ll being paid to drink coffee (unlike regular jobs where making and drinking your favourite warm beverage apparently doesn’t count as ‘work’).
Like Alison Currie, a senior scientist at the UK headquarters of Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), the second largest coffee company in the world, you’ll be responsible for collating national preferences in coffee flavours and liaising with product developers to produce blends that will appeal to Europe’s different markets.
Fun fact: Costa Coffee has had their taster Gennaro Pellicia’s tongue insured for £10 million by Lloyd’s of London.
Salary: £14,000 to £69,000 (food tasters)
3. Coffee expert
‘Be an expert in your chosen field’ – one of the most common pieces of advice in every career development article ever and one that is essential to follow no matter what career path you decide to take. As a coffee expert, this means understanding the ins and outs of the coffee industry, being able to tell the difference between an espresso and a ristretto, and generally loving all things java.
You could start your own blog providing tips and advice to coffee lovers everywhere about grinding their own beans or the best drip coffee maker on the market, or share your coffee-making knowledge through workshops.
4. Green coffee buyer
For those not in the know, a green coffee buyer’s job is probably the most glamorous in the industry.
But exactly what is it that they do? ‘Buying coffee’ would seem the most obvious answer, and it is partly true, but their roles are far more complex than that. These buyers are hired by coffee shops, distributors, food companies and even grocery shops, and are tasked with travelling the world to find the best farms that grow the best beans that make the best cups of Joe you’ll ever have.
It’s not as simple as it sounds, though. While you will get to travel to countries like Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, you’ll be responsible for evaluating climate and soil quality, scrutinising farming practices and brokering deals with farmers whose beans you’d like to import. When back at home, you’ll have to taste, grade and price imported coffee, as well as help the process of developing roasting profiles and creating and marketing blends.
It’s important to note that this is a very competitive field and getting a job as a coffee buyer is far from easy. It’s also not a very glamorous job, as you will often find yourself travelling to dangerous parts of the world and sleeping in dirt-floored houses.
Salary: £40,000 to £240,400
5. Coffee roaster
A coffee roaster is basically what a brewmaster is to beer and whisky, and what a vintner is to wine.
Coffee roasting is the art of transforming the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans into roasted coffee products. We say ‘art’ because that’s exactly what it is. It takes years of training to become an expert roaster and to be able to ‘read’ to beans make split-second decisions.
It’s not an easy job. In fact, there will be days when the only thing you’ll seemingly be doing is standing in the soaring heat and roaring noise of the roasting machine, monitoring the temperature, time, colour and roast level of the beans. But at least you can get your dose of caffeine, so that’s something.
Roasters are involved in every aspect of production: from assisting the buyer in the acquisition of beans all the way to managing quality control through each step of the process. With time, you could graduate to Head Roaster and, eventually, Master Roaster.
Whatever you choose to do in life, it’s important that you pick a career that makes you happy. And considering how java has been scientifically proven to make people feel happier (a recent study carried out by the American Academy of Neurology found that those who drink 4 or more cups of Joe were about 10 per cent less likely to be depressed than those who didn’t), then a career in the coffee industry it is!
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Can you recommend any other awesome jobs for coffee lovers that should be on this list but we didn’t think of? Join the conversation below and let us know!
This article was originally published in October 2015.