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Barista Fire: A Step Away From Financial Freedom

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The original financial independence movement spawned a whole host of spin-offs. There’s fat fire, lean fire, barista fire, coast fire,  passion fire, and a ton more, I’m sure. I gave a general description of many of these in my epic post on the different types of fire, but I think it’s worth going into depth on each of them – to give you an idea of which one might be best for you. 

So let’s talk about barista fire. Let’s find out how it relates to Coast fire (some people think they are exactly the same thing – but guess what – they’re wrong!), and whether it’s actually a type of financial independence or just a stop on the journey to true freedom. Let’s see if barista fire is what you want out of life!

What is Barista Fire?

Barista Fire is a form of financial independence where you don’t actually quit working. That doesn’t exactly sound like true financial independence, now does it? But, some people prefer to keep working for a variety of reasons, and who are we to say that they aren’t financially independent because they are doing something that they want to do?

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An important component of barista fire is that you do get to quit your high-stress job. When you reach barista fire, you have enough money to pay for the majority of your living expenses, but take an easy, low-stress job to fill in the gaps. It got its name because many people want to quit their jobs and work in a coffee shop for a few days a week (though I’ve been to Starbucks, I don’t see how that isn’t stressful!). I consider Barista fire a step between being financially independent and being tied to a job. It’s one step closer to true financial independence than Coast Fire.

What is Coast Fire?

Speaking of coast fire, I think it’s important to briefly describe it so you can see the sublet differences. Coast Fire is another step on the journey to financial independence. It means you have enough money for a secure traditional retirement but need your normal, high-stress job to pay the bills. It’s a super important milestone on the journey to freedom, so it’s definitely important to know how to calculate your number.  However, it’s not the same as barista fire, regardless of what the big names in finance want you to think.

Barista Fire vs. Coast Fire

There is a super important difference between coast fire and barista fire. With coast fire, you still need that super stressful job. You can’t pay your bills without it! But when you get to barista fire, you can quit that terrible job and do something a little less stressful. If you don’t actually hate your job but just don’t want to be there all the time, you may also be able to cut your hours and start working part-time. Barista fire is a step past coast fire on the journey to true financial independence.


Advantages to Barista FI

Some people actually don’t want what I like to call “true financial independence” – which is quitting your job and never working again. They want to work – either for the social aspects or for the benefits. The advantage of barista fire is that it offers both – and gives you a little bit of pocket money! These are the advantages to choosing barista fire, and why so many people opt for this route:


A huge advantage to Barista FI is the benefits.  Unfortunately, the healthcare system in the United States is still a joke, and most insurance is tied to employment. Getting sick is a huge privilege, and a healthcare emergency can derail even the best early retirement plans. Some people decide to keep working so that they can keep health insurance. 

Unfortunately, most companies don’t offer benefits to part-time employees.  But Starbucks does! Maybe that’s why it was called barista fire in the first place! There are tons of other companies that offer benefits to part-time employees as well. You can find a short list of these companies here. This is a great place to start if you’re only hanging onto your high-stress job for the benefits.

Money Coming In

Another benefit is that you keep money coming in. Even with solid investments, it can be terrifying to quit a high-paying job and not have any income at all.  Barista Fire can help you bridge that gap. It can give you a little peace of mind.

Obviously, you won’t be making as much as you did before (that’s the whole point, right?), but having a little bit of income coming in would be a great way to ease your worries about the next financial downturn. You might even be able to find a part-time job that pays most of your living expenses, so you wouldn’t have to withdraw anything from your investments in bad years! 

Social Benefits

A big reason why many people chose to pursue barista FI is the social interactions. Oftentimes, retiring from a job causes you to lose out on a ton of social connections that you’ve built. It’s hard to transition from seeing people every day to never seeing anyone (as a lot of us may have learned recently!). Barista fire bridges that gap and offers people the social engagement that they crave, without the stress and deadlines of the job that they left. 


Is Barista Fire Right for You?

Whether or not Barista Fire is right for you depends on a whole lot of things. The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want to work in retirement. Some people don’t want to work at all, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Some people like working, and that’s fine too. Another thing you should consider is how badly you need to quit your job. If your job offers a high income in return for a terrible work/life balance or is detrimental to your mental or physical well-being, you may want to quit sooner rather than later. Money isn’t everything, and if your job is hurting you, Barista fire might be a better option.

On the other hand, if you hate your job because you hate the entire idea of working, barista fire probably isn’t right for you. Why trade one job you hate for a lower-paying job that you also hate? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. In that case, it might be better to stay at the high-paying job long enough to achieve financial independence in the traditional sense.

If you aren’t sure about being financially independent, Barista fire might be an excellent option for you. You get to dip your toes in, but you don’t have to dive in if you don’t want to. Like I said before, it’s an excellent way to bridge the gap between working full time and taking the plunge into financial independence.

Are you going to pursue barista fire? Tell me why or why not in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Barista Fire: A Step Away From Financial Freedom”

  1. I like the idea of barista FIRE, but since retiring we are never in one place long enough to work. Then again, our plan was always to travel and that’s what we do. In a way, I suppose our barista work is overseeing rental properties. There is always stuff to be fixed or spruced up and when we can, we like to do this ourselves.

    1. I’d definitely consider that a type of barista fire. You are still working part time, and you use that income to fund your lifestyle. I think the concept of barista fire is so wide that it can be used for a lot of situations.

  2. I kind of thought barista fire was when you could generate maybe $20k from investments or passive income so you’d still have to work enough to earn another $20k. I’m very fat FIRE but choose to work a day or two a week for entertainment and to keep my network alive and for social contact. So I guess that really is a firm of batista fire! I think most people will work some for all the reasons you described so well in this very interesting post.

    1. Yeah I think the point of Barista Fire is that you still have to work, but it doesn’t have to be full time or stressful. I think there are lots of different ways to think about that and to achieve it though. I definitely would consider working for networking opportunities and social contact a form of Barista Fire…there’s not rule that says you have to work for the money! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I’m kind of working on this except from an entrepreneurial standpoint. I wonder, would we call it entreFIRE? On a related note, I joined the fire service and then retired early, would I be fireFIRE? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. You FIRED from Fire!! That’s amazing haha. I have a new term for quitting your “real job” to work on entrepreneurial pursuits, which are generally the things we really want to do. I call it “Passion Fire”

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