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Barrista moving to Berling, learning German, started using duolingo.

Hi everybody, I will be moving from Croatia to Berling in a few months. I am really interested in coffee bussines and I have decided I am going to Berlin to reach my goals. My question is how much german is required behind the bar? Regarding my job experience - top notch, passed restaurants, night clubs, normal bars and last 1 year head barrista in a specialty coffee company. I already know the basics but I am scared what will happen once I actually go there.

December 27, 2017



In Wien, Austria brauchst du nur wenig Sprachkenntnisse. Die Getränke sind meist international bekannt. Wichtig ist doch, sich mit dem Klientel gut zu verstehen. Ich wünsche dir viel Erfolg.


I have never been to Berlin so I can't speak from experience. I do remember reading an article a while ago (not sure where maybe DW?) about Berliners being annoyed by how many restaurants and cafes were around that have staff that don't speak German. So you might get away with minimal German if you don't mind catering to tourists etc.

  • 1786

Ya, that's like in Prague, Czech Republic (my own capital/country). Typical scenario: I'm trying to buy something, the shop assistant starts to speak English to me, so I answer in Czech (I'm in the CZECH Republic right?), what follows on their side is often not Czech but their mother tongue (Russian, Ukrainian... ). I think you should always learn a language of the country you work in, no matter how many people around are tourists / speak English.

A waitress working in Germany and not understanding "zwei Kaffee, bitte", that's just too much O.o


What's the zwei?

There's always that one person companies put behind the bar because they think that's somehow the best place for them because they won't move around as much as other areas of the store, though. (Because it's not like they'll have to COMMUNICATE with people to make their orders, right?) We had a Farsi speaker put in our (Starbucks, partner location) bar that spoke no English whatsoever. They had tried putting her in the produce department to work in the back, but that hadn't worked, but somehow she was supposed to figure out how to make everyone's coffee? O_o And this was common: The worst English speakers were put in the bar. It's not as bad as described above - I am English/Spanish speaking... but it was still pretty bad. Namely because they scheduled us by ourselves a lot over there, so you'd get people who didn't speak English at all working by themselves.

Anyway, since I'm a dual citizen with Ireland/the U.K. I actually plan on moving over to Europe next year and (hopefully) working over there as a bit as a barista and maybe a TEFL teacher part time (I'm trained through University of Toronto).

But I'm conversational in Spanish, Italian, French, and with luck German lol. I've no intention of working in a country where I don't even have the basics down. It's not very common for me to get into a conversation out of my depth in Spanish anymore especially - though I did have a customer the other day who wanted to do something with a gift card I didn't understand. But to be fair, I didn't have the whole situation explained to me, it was passed onto me by someone who didn't know what she'd wanted either.


Hello, i am from germany... speaking plite german is quite tough and also required for people "behind the bar". You have formal kanguage, that you dont have in english ( i dont know serbocroatian? xD) You should know Phrases like Darf es sonst noch etwas sein? Was wünschen Sie? Das macht (10,20, some numbers) euro Guten Tag xD I would say the most importat one is the first :P


Retail is mostly be a fairly limited speech domain, so it should be relatively easy to pick up, as long as you can work side-by-side with other people that do know the language well enough to help you (and are able/willing to do so). Also, your active language knowledge (saying something yourself) can be effective in that context even if very limited (there are not many things you need to be able to say), though you need more passive knowledge (understanding the customers), but for the latter you don't need much grammar etc. Knowing numbers well would be important.

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