Life of an OFW Barista in Saudi Arabia

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as a barista in Saudi Arabia? In general, a day in the life of any OFW working in Saudi Arabia largely depends on what their profession is, but even among baristas, each individual has unique experiences, although there are certain themes and experiences that are common to all.

In this article, we’ll look into the life of one barista who has worked in Saudi for two years. He was interviewed through a video call and he responded to frequently asked questions about his work as a barista, life as an OFW in Saudi, and others. If you are a barista in the Philippines wanting to work overseas, then the insights shared in this article will truly help you.

life of barista saudi

Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.

How to Apply as a Barista in Saudi

The information shared in this article comes from a YouTube video from the channel, “Coffee talk.” In this video, a Filipino barista named Jan Pol working in Saudi Arabia answers questions from the host Vic. The interview focused on how to apply as a barista in Saudi Arabia, and where to have barista training in the Philippines. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:

In the video, the barista has been working in Saudi for 2 years already. So what was his personal path like before getting in this profession? Well, here is a summary:

  • Getting a college degree
  • Getting an OJT at a hotel
  • Working as a barista in the Philippines
  • Being referred to work overseas

When it comes to educational background, the barista mentioned that part of his college degree required him to get an OJT at a hotel. He decided to find a hotel which allowed him to practice his bartender skills. He was thinking about bartending for an alcohol bar.

He heard about a hotel in Baguio City which had a bar he could bartend. That’s why he signed to get an OJT in that hotel. When he got there, instead of being an alcohol bar, it was a coffee bar. This was the beginning of his love for being a barista.

One can imagine that he was at first disappointed when he found out it was a coffee bar, instead of his initial plan of being in an alcohol. However, he learned to love the craft, thanks to his instructors and supervisors at the hotel.

He got interested in the coffee industry when he was impressed at what his supervisors were able to do, and that is make excellent coffee, latte art, and other related skills. Thus, his eagerness to become an alcohol bartender changed into a desire to become a barista.

After graduating, the hotel where he had the OJT hired him, and he worked there for 2 years before deciding to work abroad.

Process of Applying to Saudi

In the video, the barista was interviewed on how he was able to find a job as a barista in Saudi Arabia. As a summary, here are the steps he took:

  • Get a recommendation from a barista already working in Saudi
  • Get interviewed online
  • Send a resume highlighting your skills
  • Hire an agency that will process your papers
  • Get a visa to work in Saudi Arabia

During the interview, the barista mentioned that he belongs to a community of baristas in Baguio city, some of which are working abroad. One person he knows in particular is in Saudi Arabia, and he told him that one employer there is looking for a barista. He was recommended along with 2 others.

Because of this recommendation, he was scheduled to have an interview, which was done through Whats App. After successfully passing the interview, he was then asked to send a skills resume.

He was only 22 years old when he applied as a barista in Saudi, which implies that he didn’t have a lot of job experience yet. As a result, he only submitted a simple resume because he is new to the industry.
Basically, the only work experience he wrote in the resume is the one he had for 2 years in the same hotel he had his OJT in.

Apparently, this was good enough for the employer in Saudi, since he was then released a visa. Moreover, to complete all necessary papers, they looked for an agency that can process all these other requirements.

During the interview phase, he was able to directly talk to the owner of the café, and was informed that his employment will be processed through an agency to make it legal.

Getting hired without referral

Is it possible to get hired even if you don’t know anyone working in Saudi Arabia? Well, according to the barista the answer is yes. You just have to do the following:

  • Join Facebook or other social media groups for baristas
  • Look out for job hiring opportunities posted in these sites
  • Don’t be afraid to inquire from other Filipinos working there
  • Ask advice from Filipinos working abroad

There are lots of Facebook groups for OFW baristas that you can join. Some of the ones mentioned in the video include the following:

  • Latte Art Philippines
  • Coffee Lovers Philippines

Once you join a group, you can just wait for posts of hiring. Most of the time, these posts are legitimate. You can also just ask the other members of the group. One particular inquiry you can dive into is what some employers are like.

For example, if you already got an employer interested in you, then you can ask other Filipino baristas what that employer is like. That’s because in a few cases, some of these employers are actually scams, in the sense that they offer a huge salary in the beginning but when you get there you actually get less than what you’re promised.

You can also learn more about the attitude of your potential employer if you’re willing to ask. The point is, you have to ask advice from Filipinos working abroad first before making the huge steps forward.

Requirements for Applying as a Barista in Saudi

While requirements vary depending on many factors, according to the barista in the video, you basically just need to prepare the following:

  • Passport
  • Resume highlighting work experience

Moreover, the barista added that most employers in Saudi Arabia are looking for applicants who are hardworking, and the great thing is that Filipinos have that reputation of being willing to work and work hard.

In fact, the barista claims that if you are Filipino, there’s about a 90 percent chance you will get the job, and that’s not just limited to baristas but all jobs in general. The barista even said that he has Filipino friends working in oil companies and they all say that their employers think they are number one.

Why Work in Saudi Arabia ?

During the Interview, the barista was asked why he works in Saudi Arabia, and not in other countries like Japan and Singapore. Specifically, he was asked if he was afraid, because in the news you read or hear a lot of bad things that happen in the country.

He mentioned that when he was still applying, at the young age of 22, all he was thinking about is saving money while working abroad. Here are some tips that he offers:

  • Your perspective will change once you arrive in Saudi
  • Understand that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, so be conservative
  • Respect the rules; for example, don’t eat pork, drink alcohol, gamble or do other illegal stuff
  • Be mindful of your clothes, e.g. don’t wear shorts in public for example.
  • The sooner you accept these rules and respect their culture, the better.

As long as you can respect the rules and the culture of the country, then your work life there will actually be a breeze, and enjoyable even. Just understand that you can no longer do some of the things that you have been doing in the Philippines.

Accept the mindset that you are in Saudi Arabia to work and save, and in fact, he chose this country because to him, he can save a lot more.

How Arabs treat Pinoys

The barista was also asked about how he and other Filipinos are treated in Saudi. His response was that different people have different personalities.

Having said that, he very specifically pointed to two different kinds of people that he meet during work as a barista: the respectful and not respectful.

He points to an experience with an employer who treats him like you are family. He is fortunate to have that kind of treatment, but also mentioned that there are other locals who look down on you because you are a foreigner.

The barista suggests that if some local communicates you and gives the impression that you are inferior to him, then just don’t pay any attention to that.

What type of coffee Saudis love

According to the barista, the type of coffee that Saudis love are the following:

  • Ethiopian coffee
  • Columbian coffee
  • Brazilian coffee
  • Guatemalan coffee
  • And more

Also, the type of coffee that people love depend on the weather. For example, if its cold, black coffee becomes quite popular somehow.

Advice to those wanting to go abroad

The barista shares the following tips if you want to work abroad:

  • You need to have the right attitude
  • You need to be hard working
  • You need to be ready to learn new skills
  • You need to battle loneliness
  • You need to be healthy and energetic to work efficiently

There will be skills that you need to learn that are probably more advanced than what you did from your previous work experience, but you don’t have to worry. You won’t get into the barista industry without training, and you will also be briefed.

As mentioned in the list above, you also need to know how to battle loneliness. Being homesick is something that the vlogger says he has to face every day he is in Saudi. He shares the following tips to cope:

Hang out with your friends or those that share the same passion for coffee as you
Go to different coffee shops with your work mates
Go to a Filipino mall in Al Khobar
Communicate with your family back home as often as you can
Just find ways to have fun and relax after work

The vlogger mentioned that indeed there is a mall in Al Khobar that sells all sorts of Filipino stuff, and once you visit that establishment, you will find that most of the people there are Filipinos. Definitely, there are lots of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and many other parts of the Middle East, including Dubai.

Setting a Goal

The barista was also asked about what his future goals are. He said that he will aim to have a contract renewal. Actually, he said that his contract already ended and that he can go home if he wants to.
However, that’s not what he wants, and he would much rather stay because he’s still young. His ultimate goal is the following:
Save money
Learn more about the craft through the experience
Ultimately, he said, when he gets old enough and saves enough money, he can buy what he wants and he can help his family.
He chooses to stay for as long as he can because of his siblings. He is supporting their education, and in fact they are already entering college.
There you have it. Being a barista in Saudi is so much fun. If you love coffee, and you like hanging out and interacting with other people, and if you want to enjoy the financial benefits of working in a rich country like Saudi Arabia, which is a generally safe country, then this job may be for you.

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