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A barista training program provides a structured, formal education in the art and science of the modern coffee craft. Attending a barista training program, whether in person or online, can streamline and accelerate a barista's progress in the coffee industry. In some cases, it can provide meaningful certification as well.
The best barista training programs are focused and rigorous, with longstanding industry connections that support the instruction and a widely recognized reputation for excellence. These are the programs at the cutting edge of coffee research and practice. Not only do they incorporate the most up-to-date technical and scientific knowledge, but they communicate that knowledge in an engaging, digestible format. Here are our picks for the best barista training programs.
Best Barista Training Programs of 2023
- Best Overall: Specialty Coffee Association
- Best In-Person: Seattle Barista Academy
- Best Online Only: Barista Hustle
- Best Hybrid: Bellissimo Coffee Advisors
Best Overall : Specialty Coffee Association
No one communicates essential coffee knowledge better than SCA.
Recognized professional standards
Diploma upon completion
With roots going back to 1982, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is the leading trade association in the industry. The SCA performs a variety of functions in today's complex coffee world, including scientific research, economic analysis, community organization, and education. Boasting thousands of members and certified trainers located all over the world, the SCA is the preeminent organization dedicated to pursuing and maintaining the highest standards in the specialty coffee industry.
The SCA's course is called the Coffee Skills Program. The curriculum is composed of six modules: Introduction to Coffee, Barista Skills, Brewing, Green Coffee, Roasting, and Sensory Skills. Each module is split into three levels: The Foundation Level provides a basic introduction to the module's topic. The Intermediate Level focuses on working knowledge, and the Professional Level delves into specialist knowledge.
To get started, register an account in the member portal, then search the course calendar. Use the filters to find the classes in your specific area of interest. You can also use the portal to find ASTs (Authorized SCA Trainers) in your local area. Prices for courses are set by the ASTs and therefore vary.
Best In-Person : Seattle Barista Academy
Seattle Barista Academy offers hands-on training in the nation's coffee capital.
Bob Burgess is one of the original builders of modern American cafe culture. During the early 1980s in Seattle, Burgess played a prominent role in the city's so-called "second wave" coffee scene, manufacturing coffee carts, importing espresso machines, and supporting entrepreneurs. In 2003, Burgess did his part to usher in the third wave, founding the Seattle Barista Academy, an institution dedicated to facilitating the relentless quest for quality that defines our contemporary coffee scene.
Seattle Barista Academy's training offers the developing barista two considerable advantages. First, all the training is in person, allowing for hands-on learning with professional commercial equipment. Second, Seattle's highly developed coffee scene—born of its long history and intense marketplace competition—is an endless source of inspiration for the actualizing coffee professional.
Seattle Barista Academy offers two professional courses, as well as two courses for the casual home barista. The professional courses include an intensive, two-day barista skills seminar and a five-day total immersion class that covers hot and iced beverages, operations training, a consulting package, and a tour of Seattle's top cafes. The home barista classes are half-day sessions, covering basic espresso competence, milk steaming, and latte art. Prices range from around $130 for a home barista lesson to roughly $2,600 for the multi-day professional curriculum.
Best Online Only : Barista Hustle
You can maximize your at-home learning potential with Barista Hustle.
If you're looking for an exclusively online barista training program, check out Barista Hustle. Based in Australia, the very extensive website is run by highly accomplished barista Matt Perger.
Barista Hustle offers over a dozen courses that are divided into Baseline, Advanced, and Specialized levels. The Baseline courses include two basic coffee brewing classes titled Percolation and Immersion, as well as Barista One—the company's flagship 20-hour class focusing on modern espresso preparation. Advanced Courses cover Advanced Coffee Making, Milk Science, The Water Course, Coffee Quality Control, and Advanced Espresso. Specialized Courses consist of Terroir, Processing, and a class titled "The Decision Tree," a free course that aims to help coffee professionals confront climate change.
Barista Hustle's site has a beautiful, contemporary design, and all the courses have free previews where you can get a feel for the quality and style of the content. You can purchase courses individually or subscribe to the site for unlimited access to all the material. Single courses cost between $100 and $200 if purchased a la carte; an individual subscription costs about $15 per month; a team subscription, which supports up to 20 baristas, costs about $100 per month; and a 50-barista team subscription sells for about $200 per month.
Best Hybrid : Bellissimo Coffee Advisors
Bellissimo brings you serious coffee education both in-person and online.
State-of-the-art espresso lab
In-person classes are limited and currently on hold
Bellissimo Coffee Advisors is primarily the work of Bruce Milletto, who founded this Portland, Oregon-based company in 1991. Affectionately known as Mr. Espresso USA, Milletto is a prolific contributor to the modern coffee scene and has been officially designated a "Coffee Luminary" by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Bellissimo, which Milletto operates in partnership with his son Matt, has created many educational tools and programs over the years. The company began with a brick-and-mortar training center known as the American Barista and Coffee Workshops, and later added two online programs: Virtual Coffee, a program for the home barista, and Online Barista Training, which caters to professionals. American Barista’s two-day, intensive in-person workshops take place once a month at the company's state-of-the-art espresso lab in Portland, where attendees receive guided, hands-on lessons in coffee tasting, espresso machine operation and maintenance, milk steaming, and latte art techniques. Both Virtual Coffee and Online Barista Training cover similar material and more through video and written content, with lessons in barista terminology, espresso preparation, milk steaming, latte art, manual coffee brewing, workstation cleaning, equipment maintenance, coffee origin experience, and roasting fundamentals.
The two-day, in-person workshop costs about $1,250. As of November 2022, the course is on hold indefinitely. Both online training platforms are only available by subscription. The individual program costs about $50 for a three-month upfront commitment and about $15 per month thereafter. The team version costs about $60 per month, with a discount available for a one-year upfront commitment.
In our opinion, the Specialty Coffee Association's Coffee Skills Program offers the best overall training, although completing it requires the most time and legwork. For a more centralized, streamlined training experience, the Seattle Barista Academy is our recommendation, provided you are able to travel to Washington. For those looking for an exclusively online program, Barista Hustle's content is unmatched. Finally, Bellissimo Coffee Advisors is a great hybrid option, offering both online and in-person training.
|Company||Why We Chose It||Length||Medium||Cost||Business Component|
|Specialty Coffee Association||Best Overall||Varies||Online and in-person||Thousands||No|
|Seattle Barista Academy||Best In-Person||2-5 days||In-person||$130-$2,600||Yes|
|Barista Hustle||Best Online Only||Around 30 hours per course||Online and in-person||Individual membership is $15 per month for unlimited content||No|
|Bellissimo Coffee Advisors||Best Hybrid||Varies||Online and in-person||Up to $1,250||Yes|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Barista Training Program?
A barista training program is a structured educational course teaching all the essential skills that you need to succeed as a barista, including espresso preparation and latte art, as well as some of the more technical and scientific aspects of coffee, such as water chemistry, coffee origins, and so on.
How Much Do Barista Training Programs Charge?
Prices range all the way from a few dollars a month for access to an online library like Barista Hustle's to several thousand dollars for hands-on, in-person training.
What Is the Best Online Barista Training Program?
Selected by our experts as the best program overall to learn to be a barista is the Speciality Coffee Association. This company goes in-depth in its classes, offering a Coffee Skills Program with recognized professional standards, and upon completion of the course, baristas receive a diploma touting their expertise in coffee making.
We evaluated numerous barista training programs, looking for those with the strongest and longest-standing reputations. We wanted training programs backed up by real-world industry experience and strove to include in-person training as well as online programs. We looked for providers that offered extensive programs so as a barista, you could master how to make and immerse yourself into the world of all things coffee, from brewing and roasting techniques to the art of pouring artistic lattes and preparing espresso, equipment maintenance, and more.