The Career Clusters in a café

Café Workplace Spotlight
Ever wondered what it might be like to work in a café? Find out in this Workplace Spotlight.

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Most of us have visited a café before, but have you ever thought about what it would be like to work in one? Most cafés are a bit like ducks – everything looks calm and in control on the surface, but beneath the water they are paddling like mad to keep things going.

In a café, people work in a team to prepare food and drinks for customers. Usually, cafés serve hot drinks like coffee and tea, as well as cakes and pastries and light meals. They are usually open early in the morning, so that people can get their coffee and breakfast on their way to work, and stay open for lunch but close up after that and don’t offer an evening meal service.

While every café is different, they tend to have a few things in common:

  1. Things move quickly – customers don’t like to wait too long for their coffee, so café workers need to be able to handle the fast pace of service.
  2. Cleanliness is key – there are strict food hygiene standards that all cafés need to meet, and you’ll need to be prepared to keep things clean at all times.
  3. You’ll be serving a lot of customers – which means you will need good people skills and the ability to greet and serve customers in a way which gives them a good experience (otherwise they won’t come back).

Key Outcome – keeping people fed and caffeinated

Each café needs to make a profit so it can stay open, and they make their money by selling food and drinks to customers. They make it easy for people to find a quick break when they are out and about, and they are also often social places where people feel safe to meet. 

Key Tasks –

  • Make coffee and other hot drinks for customers
  • Provide pre-prepared food, and/or make food on the premises for customers
  • Keep the café and eating area clean and safe
  • Clearly communicate the types of food and drink on offer

You can find cafés in the hospitality industry

The hospitality industry also includes bars and restaurants, travel and tourism, some beauty services – pretty much anything that serves customers. This industry is focused on providing services that are usually considered to be optional – it’s not essential for us to eat out – which means that most businesses in this industry need to deliver a positive experience for customers.

Work Environment

You can expect shifts and on-site work in a range of locations

Shift Work  |  Work on-site  |  Jobs in all locations, including metro, regional, and rural  |  Job growth depends on location

Most people who work in a café work outside of the standard 9am to 5pm work hours – they are at work whenever the café is operating. This means they usually don’t work in the evenings, unless they are preparing for the next day.

It is very difficult to serve coffee from home, but some roles may be remote, for example, the bookkeeper for the café may work from home, and many cafés source baked goods and pastries from people who bake in their own kitchens or in offsite commercial kitchens.

You’ll find cafés just about anywhere you can find people – even the smallest towns tend to have a café or two. That means there are lots of opportunities in a huge range of locations, but it also makes it difficult to define the growth areas. It’s likely that there will be higher job growth in locations with population growth or strong tourism numbers.

The Career Clusters you’ll find in a café

Some cafés are owned and operated by just one or two people, but others have teams of staff, and the size of the café will impact on the number of Clusters you find within it. You’ll generally find Makers and Linkers, as well as Coordinator or two as the managers, but the other Clusters may be outsourced roles.


The Makers are the people who are preparing the food and coffee, and keeping the kitchen clean and operational. Most cafés also bring in Makers to take care of the initial shop fitout, and other Makers deliver the produce to the café each day.


The Linkers are the people who serve the customers – the ones who help them find seats and take their payment. Often in small cafés these people may also be Makers actually preparing the coffee or food.

Cafés also need Linkers to run their social media, advertise the café, and generally encourage customers to come through the doors.


Cafés usually have one or more people who are the Coordinators – these are the Café Manager or Shift Manager, and they are responsible for coordinating the team, ordering supplies, managing the books, and ensuring the café complies with all the regulations it is subject to.


You’ll often find Informers working with café owners and staff when they are just starting out – for example, there are Barista Trainers, who will teach staff how to operate the complicated coffee machines.

Other Informers work with café managers to help them conduct audits and meet compliance requirements, as these can often be complicated and getting them wrong can have severe consequences. Café managers may also bring in accountants and other financial experts to manage the books.


Most of the time Innovators are involved when the café is being set up – they may build or fit out the café, and design the kitchen layout, for example. Graphic Designers may be brought in to help design the logo which goes on the coffee cups, menus, napkins, t-shirts, and social media sites, and you could also find other marketing experts who create a website or online ordering platform.

Many cafés work closely with their roaster, who is an expert in roasting beans to meet the needs of the café, and the roaster is an Innovator who designs and blends their own custom beans.


There are regulations which mandate that cafés appoint someone to be their safety officer, and this person may occasionally work as a Guardian alongside their other roles, but most cafés don’t have a Guardian on staff. That being said, they work with Guardians to do things like review the café for fire safety or for potential safety hazards for customers, and Guardians often work with cafés as Food Safety Inspectors for local councils.

Commercial kitchens can be dangerous places with a high risk of burns and slips, and if something goes wrong then a Guardian may become involved in any workplace safety investigation that is required.

How do we expect working in a café to change in the future?

It’s unlikely that we’ll see drastic changes to the way cafés operate in the next 5 to 10 years, because so much of the process is human. Sure, there are automated coffee dispensers, and you can order your coffee through an app without needing to talk to a real person anymore, but most cafés still find it’s more profitable to offer personalised service.

If you’re interested in working in a café, it could be helpful to learn more about the new kinds of technology that are being brought into the space, as well as the latest trends in things like origin of the coffee beans, and food safety standards.