Kaimahi Toa Kawhe
Cafe workers prepare, serve and sell food and drinks to customers at delicatessens, cafes, canteens and snack bars.
Cafe workers usually earn an average of
$16 per hour
Source: Hospitality New Zealand, 2014
Cafe workers earn an average of minimum wage an hour.
Source: Hospitality New Zealand, 'Annual Wage Survey 2014', 2014.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Cafe workers may do some or all of the following:
- prepare foods such as salads, sandwiches, baked goods, as well as meat
- ensure food is fresh and kept at a safe temperature
- make drinks, such as coffee and tea
- take orders, serve customers, and answer their questions about the food
- weigh, price and pack food for customers
- clear tables, wash dishes and clean and stock cabinets
- manage the till
- order food from suppliers
- supervise other staff and organise work rosters.
Skills and knowledge
Cafe workers need to have:
- knowledge of the foods they sell, and how to prepare this food
- knowledge of food hygiene and safety regulations, and how to judge if food is fresh
- basic maths skills for weighing food and calculating ingredient quantities
- ability to use a coffee machine.
Depending on where they work, cafe workers may also need to know about specialty foods.
- may work regular business hours, or do shift work, including evenings and weekends
- work in cafes, delicatessens and canteens.
What's the job really like?
Check out the video of Andy Low to find out what it's like to be a cafe worker -1.13 mins.
I really like the regulars that come in because they’re people you get to kind of know them, but then the surprises that come with the people who don’t come every day, just maybe pop in.
Maybe one day you’ll end up washing dishes a lot. Another day you’re outside doing a lot more connection with the customers. Another day you might be on the till a lot more.
Skills wise, number one I would think - if you like people, it’s really about that the job. People don’t just come in for a coffee, they come in to be with other people and that’s the environment you are in.
I can believe in a good cup of coffee and I can believe in the stuff that I’m actually bringing out, and I can believe in just that 20 minutes of experience and I know you can actually make that almost perfect, yeah, with a bit of effort and a bit of love in it.
There are no specific entry requirements to become a cafe worker, as you learn most skills on the job.
You can do on-the-job training, such as ServiceIQ's New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Cafes) Level 3, and employers may also send staff on food handling and hygiene courses.
NCEA Level 1 English and maths are useful.
Cafe workers need to be:
- friendly, helpful and polite
- honest and reliable
- good at customer service
- able to communicate clearly
- able to work well as part of a team
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- quick and efficient
- able to work well under pressure.
Useful experience for cafe workers includes:
- customer service
- cooking and baking
- food packaging and preparation experience.
Cafe workers need to be fit and healthy, as they are on their feet for long periods, and may have to lift and put away food deliveries. They should also have a clean and tidy appearance.
Find out more about training
- Hospitality New Zealand
- (04) 385 1369 - email@example.com - www.hospitalitynz.org.nz
- 0800 863 693 - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
High turnover and increased spending on eating out means vacancies common
Chances of getting a job are generally good for cafe workers – particularly those with previous experience – because:
- vacancies arise often, as most people see cafe work as a temporary job and then move on
- hospitality is a large industry, employing about 126,000 people
- spending on eating out has increased.
Types of employers varied
While most cafe workers are employed by cafes, the size and type of cafe can vary from a small business to a large franchise.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Robertson, B, chief executive officer, Hospitality New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, January 2015, (www.hospitalitynz.org.nz).
- ServiceIQ, Careers New Zealand interview, December 2014, (www.serviceiq.org.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Food Price Index Review: 2014', accessed January 2015, (www.stats.govt.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'International Travel and Migration: November 2014', accessed January 2015, (www.stats.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Cafe workers can progress to work in roles such as barista. They may also progress into managerial or supervisory positions.
Last updated 11 January 2018