I love coffee and have been applying to barista jobs. Would love to work at a place like Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia but the application process is tuff. Need advice. Should I consider trying to work at a big chain (Starbucks) or something like that to get some experience, or will that be looked down on when I try to get hired by the premium roasters. I spoke to some friends and they said I needed experience on the strada which I don't have, and not sure how to get easily. I am not in a big city so boutiques are hard to come by. 

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Do you have any customer service experience, as a server, bartender, etc? Barista skills can be learned but there's more to the job in my experience than pulling a good shot or pouring a rosetta. When applying for any job in a field that is new to you, stress the skills and experience that you do have and that carry over to the job you want.

thanks for the response. yes - I have 4 years of customer service experience in a cafe and at a restaurant. I don't enjoy FOH at large restaurants and really like coffee so am mulling the move to being a barista. The question is whether to go to a big chain first, or to wait it out until I get a job at a premium boutique. I don't really want to be a starbucks barista if I can help it but wondering if I need to do it to get the experience. 

I think it'll be more difficult to get in with a craft/boutique-style shop with no coffee experience.  It's not impossible, as your personality may really fit with the owners/operators.  There are many people who have made careers out of the coffee industry and started at Starbucks or a lower quality coffee operation.  From there, they continued to learn and grow and move on to other companies.

Be positive, be clear in your communication and intent, be willing to learn and adapt (don't get stuck in the "at my old job we did it this way" mindset), and ask lots of questions!  I realize this isn't a perfect answer to your question, but it's my thoughts on how to approach the industry.  Best wishes!

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