Frequently Asked Questions

We know you haven't seen a service like this before, so we're sure you have questions.
Don't see your answer? Contact us by email or call 844-438-2877.


General  ×   On-Demand Shifts  x Barista Training


On-Demand Shifts



What is Cover That Shift?

So glad you asked! Cover That Shift was built by CUPS to provide staffing help for specialty coffee shops. Whether you need staffing help for a day or a month, or you want to build up your current staff’s coffee knowledge, we’ve got you covered.


Who can I contact if I need help?

If you have any questions, please email our team at If you have an urgent inquiry, give us a ring at 844-438-2877. Our regular office hours are 9am-6pm Monday through Friday, but if you need help with a shift outside these hours, someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

On-Demand shifts

What is Cover That Shift On-Demand?

On-Demand shifts are for specialty coffee shops, cafes, and coffee event planners who need an extra barista for any number of shifts. When you book an On-Demand shift, we schedule you an experienced barista who wants to pick up the extra shifts and see what it’s like to work at another coffee shop.

How does it work?

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get extra help when you need it.

  1. Head to our easy online booking form.

  2. Choose the number of shifts you need covered.

  3. Enter the dates and times of your shifts, your location information, best point of contact and whether the shift will be tipped or un-tipped.

  4. Enter your payment details and submit your booking! You’ll receive a confirmation email with a full overview of your booking.

  5. We get started scheduling the best baristas for you right away. You’ll receive an email update with your baristas’ information once your shifts have been filled.

How do I know the baristas are any good?

To qualify to be part of this program, baristas are required to have at least 2 years of barista experience, with at least one year working in specialty coffee shops. Many of our baristas come to us via industry recommendation, and most have several years of experience working in third-wave coffee shops. Every barista is vetted to verify coffee knowledge before they pick up their first shift.


I’m uncomfortable with having a stranger in my shop.

This is totally understandable, but we take recruitment seriously and screen our baristas to ensure they are trustworthy, reliable, and experienced (and cool.) You’ll receive the barista’s contact information in advance if you’d like to touch base directly prior to their shift.


When are baristas available?

Baristas are available around the clock—whenever you're open, they're ready to make coffee.


How long can I book a barista for?

Shifts can be booked for between 5 and 10 hours. If you need a barista for less time, you can book for 5 hours and email us at with the correct time of the shift. Please note shorter shifts will still be charged the 5-hour minimum. If you need a barista for longer, please book an additional shift so we can all avoid barista fatigue and keep your staff in tip-top order.


How much is this going to cost me, and how do the baristas get paid?

You pay for the barista’s hourly rate and a small booking fee at time of booking. We then manage paying the scheduled baristas, so you don’t need to worry about taxes or adding them to your payroll.

Hourly rates are determined by city and 100% is passed along to the barista. If you are in need of a barista for an un-tipped shift, such as an event setting or a coffee bar with no tips accepted, the hourly rate is increased by $4. These are the current hourly rates for tipped shifts in your area:

  • NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago - $12/hr

  • Bay Area - $18/hr

  • Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC - $14/hr

  • Nashville - $10/hr

We charge a booking fee of $29 per shift, or $35 per shift booked if the shift is the following day. This is to cover the admin time of hiring, vetting, and managing baristas.


What about tips?

On-Demand baristas deserve their fair share of tips, and you are responsible for tipping the barista out at the end of their shift. If you are unable to pay the barista in cash for their credit card tips, we can charge the amount owed to the barista to your card and pass it on to them, but we will have to add a 3% credit card processing fee to the total.

If your shift is un-tipped, the hourly rate is increased by $4 to compensate for lack of tips.


How do you charge me?

Your credit card will be charged at time of booking.


Are the baristas your employees?

No, all Cover That Shift baristas are independent contractors.


How far in advance do I need to request a barista?

We ask you to send in requests by 4 pm EST the previous day to provide us ample time to secure a barista. Weekend shifts must be booked by 4 pm EST Friday, and special notice may be required for holiday shifts.


I want to request a shift on a specific date, but I don’t see it as an option. What do I do?

If the date is super far away, just reach out to us and we’ll be happy to book your shift manually. If it’s missing from the list, you may have missed the cut-off or there may not be baristas available that day. Feel free to reach out for more info.


Is it possible to book a shift after the 4 pm EST cutoff?

We can’t make any guarantees, but if you reach out to us directly at, we’ll try our best to accommodate short-notice requests. We can often fill same-day shifts by increasing the barista's hourly rate; please note you may be charged an additional fee in these special cases.


Can I have the same barista for multiple shifts?

We can’t guarantee this, but we can certainly try! If you book multiple shifts at once, we'll do our best to send the same one or two baristas. If you request a specific barista, we will reach out to them individually before the rest of our barista network.


Am I able to book multiple shifts at once?

Yes, you can book multiple shifts at checkout. Simply select the number of shifts you need and then fill in the shift times. Note: Please select the number of shifts before you begin filling in shift details.


Do you provide baristas for private events or catered events?

Absolutely! We've provided baristas for many different kinds of events. Please book the request via the website or contact us directly if you have questions. Un-tipped event shifts cost an additional $4 per hour to ensure your barista is paid fairly.

What if I need to change the shift time after I submit my booking?

Please reach out to us at and we will do our best to accommodate your request.


What are your cancellation policies?

Shift dates and times are final once booked as we begin scheduling for you right away. All booking fees are nonrefundable.

If a barista has already been scheduled and it is more than 24 hours until the shift start time:

  • The barista will be paid 50% of the promised wages for their time commitment.

  • Credit will be issued for remaining 50% of barista wages.

  • The booking fee is nonrefundable.

If a barista has already been scheduled and it is less than 24 hours until the shift start time:

  • The barista will be paid for their time commitment.

  • No refund or credit will be issued for barista wages or booking fee.

If a barista has not yet been scheduled and it is less than 48 hours until the shift start time:

  • You may request to cancel in exchange for full credit back for the barista wages.

  • The booking fee is nonrefundable.


What if I send the barista home early from their shift? 

If a barista is sent home early because their assistance is no longer needed, we will still pass along the promised wages. If a barista is sent home due to unsatisfactory performance, we will pass along 50% of their promised wages for the commitment and travel to their shift. If 50% of their wages equates to less than three hours of work, we will pay them for three hours of work.


What if I have specific demands for my baristas?

You can specify these in the Special Requests section on the booking form. We will try our best to fill any and all requests, such as dress code or familiarity with a particular machine.


What if I'd like to hire the barista who filled a shift in my coffee shop? 

If you directly hire an On-Demand barista, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, you will be charged a $500 finder’s fee. This fee covers the cost of hiring and replacing the barista in the On-Demand program.


What if I have numerous specialty drinks on my menu?

Our baristas are highly adaptable and have worked in many different coffee shops. If you send us a list of your specialties, we’ll pass them along to the barista for their review prior to the shift. You may also email recipes or instructions directly to your barista once we have scheduled someone for your shift.


Can your baristas fill solo shifts?

Our baristas are certainly experienced enough to handle an espresso bar on their own, though we strongly recommend having someone available to show them around the space and make sure they know where to find all your coffee necessities. If that's not possible, you can film a quick video on your phone that shows them where things are and explains how the shop works.

Please note at time of booking if the barista will be expected to work alone for all or a portion of the shift. We want everyone to start their shift aware, prepared and ready to work!


What if I need them to open or close my shop?

We strongly recommend having someone from your team on-site to show them around at least at the beginning of the shift. Since every shop is different, we do not want them going in blind, and openings and closings can be particularly tricky for someone who has not worked at your shop before.

Barista Training 

How are Cover That Shift barista training classes different from roaster training programs?

Our trainers have a breadth of knowledge having worked with countless roasters in varied cafe settings across the US. They are able to apply their versatile experience and tailor each class to your needs according to your cafe setup.  Oftentimes, training classes are hosted in centralized facilities with top of the line equipment (which can be great!) but since our trainers come to you, the classes are meant to equip your staff to make the best coffee they can at your shop using your own equipment and beans.


Who are your trainers?

All of our trainers have 5+ years in the coffee industry and at least 1 year in a training role.


Are trainings available outside of NYC?

We’re currently only able to offer training to coffee shops in the New York metro area. We’re working on expanding our training services to additional markets.


Can I book two classes at once?

Yes! All classes are two hours long, but you can book two classes at once and they can be scheduled back to back or on two different dates.


Are there prerequisites for any of the classes?

Nope! All classes are designed to be taken as stand-alone sessions. Our trainers can adjust the material so that it is as accessible or as challenging as needed for your staff to get the most out of the class.


Will my staff be able to pour latte art after taking the milk class?

This depends on each and every barista. Latte art takes time to perfect, and the purpose of the class is to give students the pointers and feedback they need to constantly be perfecting their art. 


What’s your cancellation policy?

Classes cancelled within 24 hours of the class date will not be refunded. For all other class cancellations, we’ll return 50% of the cost to you in the form of Cover That Shift credit.


How many students can take a class?

A maximum of 4 students can take a class.


How long are the classes?

All classes are 2 hours long.


When are your classes available?

Classes take place in the evenings seven days a week at 5 pm, 6 pm, or 7 pm. If evening training times are not convenient for you, then you may request a different time slot, but please give us at least one business day to confirm your requested date and time.


Do your trainers bring any training materials or equipment with them?

Our barista trainers will bring in the curriculum and training guides for students, which they may keep for reference after the class has finished. No equipment will be brought in, as the trainer will use what is available at your cafe. 


My cafe isn't open yet but  I would like to book a training for my staff. Can the training be hosted elsewhere? 

If you have access to a suitable location equipped with the appropriate machines for your class then the class can be hosted wherever you wish. If you don't have a cafe setting then we can help secure a training location for you at an additional cost. Please inquire. 


ON-DEMAND shifts

Do I qualify as a Cover That Shift barista?

We require all baristas in our On-Demand community to have at least 2 years experience as a barista, with a minimum of 1 year in specialty coffee—that means 3rd-wave, independent coffee shops. Latte art skills are strongly preferred.

How do I sign up?

Head to the For Baristas section of our website and click “I’m Looking for an Occasional Shift,” then simply fill out the form to apply to pick up On-Demand shifts. Please note applications that don’t include enough detail will not be processed, so be sure to include as much detail as possible about your experience and interest in coffee.

I applied to be an On-Demand barista. What are the next steps?

If your application is approved, you will be added to your city’s SMS shift alert line and receive a welcome email with further details. Keep an eye out!

How do I get paid for the shifts I work?

We make payments via direct deposit on Tuesdays for any shifts filled the previous week (Monday through Sunday.) You will be notified via email when the payment has been made. Please allow 3 to 5 business days for your payment to appear in your account. Hourly rates vary by city. If you are working a tipped shift, be sure to ask for your tips before you leave for the day.


Do I need to fill out any forms?

Once your application has been approved, we’ll just need you to fill out a W-9 form for tax purposes.


Am I an employee of Cover That Shift?

No. Baristas in the Cover That Shift network work as independent contractors, giving you much more flexibility in your schedule. You will be sent a 1099 form for filing taxes depending on how much you earn through the program in a calendar year.

Is there a dress code?

In most cases there is no strict dress code, though you are expected to comply with all local health code requirements. Some shifts may have specific dress code requests, which you’ll be informed of before you’re scheduled for the shift. Generally speaking, wear what you wear to a barista gig in your favorite coffee shop!

What will I be expected to do on shift?

Shifts are generally coffee-forward and will involve brewing coffee and espresso drinks, alongside side work typical of any standard barista gig. You may be asked to prepare a cafe’s specialty drinks by following a recipe, to maintain a clean and orderly station, and to serve pastries and possibly do light food prep. We will communicate any additional special requirements per the coffee shop’s booking request.


I claimed an On-Demand shift but realized I can’t make it. Can I cancel?

Once you have been confirmed for a shift, you are expected to follow through on your commitment. Please only pick up a shift if you are certain you can work it.

That being said, we know unforeseen circumstances pop up, so we operate with a 3-strike policy. Strikes are given out for cancellations, callouts, late arrivals, early departures, and other circumstances at your account manager’s discretion. If you accumulate 3 strikes, you will be removed from the program and will not be allowed to pick up shifts in the future.

Please note that we have a zero-tolerance no-show policy. Failure to show up for a shift without proper notice will result in immediate, permanent removal from the program. If you must call out of a shift, please notify us by 4 pm EST the day before. Calling out of a scheduled shift after this time may qualify as a no-show.

How much does each shift pay?

Shift payment varies by shift length, city and whether or not tips are disbursed. Below are the current rates for tipped shifts in your city:

  • NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago - $12/hr

  • Bay Area - $18/hr

  • Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC - $14/hr

  • Nashville - $10/hr

Un-tipped shifts pay an additional $4 per hour to compensate for lack of tips. Rates are subject to change on a shift-by-shift basis; you will be notified of any difference from the norm before you are confirmed for a shift.

Am I covered under workers comp?

As an independent contractor you are not covered under workers comp policy. We require you to seek out an Occupational Accident Insurance (“OAI”) policy that meets your needs.