Someone Call in Sick? Cover That Shift Can Help!

Cover That Shift allows baristas to pick up shifts all over their city, and for owners and managers to find coverage for shifts they can’t get filled.


Photos by Ashley Sears

It has happened to everyone: A last-minute opportunity comes up, but you have to turn it down because no one can cover your barista shift. Or you’re feeling ill, but you have to come in because there are no available baristas. Or maybe you’re hobbling around at work on a bum ankle, hoping someone will respond to your frantic texts looking for someone to relieve you.

In small cafes and coffee shops, finding coverage can be a nightmare. Schedules are tight, and there are only so many members of your staff you can ask to cover for you. Cover That Shift, a service provided by CUPS, is hoping to solve that problem. “The ability to fill last-minute shifts is another competitive operational advantage we saw coffee chains have over independently owned specialty shops. Businesses with multiple locations can easily move staff around to cover shifts, but we consistently saw our shops struggle to find trained baristas on short notice,” shares Lauren Duttenhofer, sales director for CUPS. “Owners were left scrambling to call in favors, pulling crazy hours themselves, and in some cases not even able to open their shops.”

Cover That Shift provides business owners and managers with a bank of baristas ready to fill in shifts.

CUPS, an app that allows customers to order coffee and find specialty cafes in their neighborhood, created the service after they noticed a demand for baristas from their clients. “In these moments, owners would frequently reach out to us to see if we knew someone that could help them out, and in most cases we did. This was really the birth of Cover That Shift,”Lauren shares. Cover That Shift operates on a simple premise: If someone calls in sick or you need a shift covered, Cover That Shift will ensure you have a well-trained professional barista to cover the hole in your schedule.

In small shops, calling in sick can be almost impossible. Cover That Shift allows baristas to recover and owners to open their doors.

The service is designed to benefit all parties on the coffee retail side. “Cover That Shift is great for owners and baristas alike,” shares Lauren. “For owners, apart from the obvious value, it can also be a great way to trial staff before making a full-time hire.” Owners and managers can hire a barista for one shift or for a few shifts. In the long run, Cover That Shift hopes to introduce the option that shops can hire baristas full-time for their cafe if they seem like a good fit. “As it stands now, if an owner hires one of our baristas, there is a finder’s fee. But we’re moving towards optimizing the service so that it can be the best service on the market to find full-time baristas.” Baristas are vetted thoroughly through Cover That Shift, so owners know they’re getting baristas with great skills who can easily jump behind the bar.

Cover That Shift is intended to be beneficial to baristas and business owners. Baristas can have a flexible schedule, while business owners can feel confident they have a well-trained barista covering a shift.

As for baristas, the service can provide part-time help for someone in between jobs or provide flexibility for someone working a few jobs. “For baristas, it can be a great way to make extra cash, get behind different machines, and work shifts at all sorts of coffee shops, but I think the coolest part of it is how non-committal it is,” Lauren notes. We’ve had baristas make it a full-time gig for a few weeks while they’re in between jobs.” Baristas have the flexibility to work solely as a fill-in barista or they can develop relationships slowly with coffee shops in their city and see if they’d be a good fit. Likewise, baristas can pick up shifts whenever they have availability—they receive a notification that a shift is available, and they can pick them up on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To use Cover That Shift for a first booking, contact After that, users can book shifts on the Cover That Shift website. Cover That Shift is available in most major cities.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at