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  • First work experience

    Just thought id ask how do most baristas out there get their first job when theyve no experience in a cafe beforehand.

    Most employers out there are looking for 1-2 years experience, what happens to those few who just start out?

  • #2
    Re: First work experience

    This may sound odd but look for work at high quality focused establishments - If you can show them that you are passionate about coffee (and you are) they may be willing to train you. One of the other options you have is looking for work at one of the many coffee chains (they have usually having national/state/city based training programs in place). Or you can start as wait staff in a cafe and express interest in working behind the machine and hopefully they will train you to their standards.

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    • #3
      Re: First work experience

      I talked my way into a job at a small place, with no experience.
      Passion was a big factor.

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      • #4
        Re: First work experience

        Dont scoff for working at a coffee chain. Particularly one that focuses on take-away coffee. One that afford you the opportunity to work on efficiency, technique and familiarization with equipment. Snobbery can come later.

        *I am happy to disclose I also worked at a chain so theres a little bias in my suggestion. But I sincerely believe its an effective way into the industry. Just dont get stuck in it!

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        • #5
          Re: First work experience

          I walked into a cafe that I knew to have at least a slightly better reputation where I lived. At the time (and perhaps still) we had no decent cafes for we Snobs...

          They took me on, I obsessed over the coffee ad nauseum until I became the resident coffee guy". That gave me certain privileges such as choosing the blend when the boss decided to switch coffee brands, being assigned to train all the new kids on the espresso machine, and generally getting to spend as much time doing coffee (as opposed to dishes, or food stuff!) as I wanted. It was excellent experience, especially watching myself crumble under the pressure of hectic days and let a few bad shots through...

          The lesson I took from this is that being passionate about coffee is essential BUT unless your prospective workplace is serious about their coffee as well, youre not going to be satisfied in the long term. The place I worked probably went back to old, bad habits (ie. filling the doser right up, re-using milk, tamping badly/not at all, overextracting shots etc.) as soon as I was out the door! (I worked there for about a year before coming overseas.)

          Having said that, I know Id be better equipped to work somewhere that was serious about coffee now. Plus I have a long list of things that I would/wouldnt like in MY ideal cafe.

          Cheers
          Stuart.

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          • #6
            Re: First work experience

            This is an out there suggestion but what about looking at commercial roasters in your area? The benefits are many!

            For one, youll have THE best understanding of the bean, origins and blends for when you make the transition to Barista and the customers (cafes/coffe shops) of your employer will certainly look highly on an applicant who has had first hand experience in the roasting of beans and service you have provided them during your time their.

            Likewise, I can see nothing but positives from a roaster who is approached by an enthusiastic and passionate future barista who wants to learn about as much as they can about coffee.

            Naturally, any employer will be wary of someone who presents themselves as a flight risk (someone who might quickly move on) if they are offered a position so should the suggestion be one you are interested in you might consider researching it further and making your barista goal a little bit more medium term.

            Certainly the progression from roasting to the making of coffee would be a great path to follow.

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            • #7
              Re: First work experience

              Ill second the not bagging of coffee chains as a good place to start

              I recently took on a girl from the coffee club who came to me looking for work as a barista.

              I gave her 15 minutes on our setup and she quickly learned she had bitten off more than she could chew...but she didnt panic and thats what is good about those places...they teach you haw to make coffee quickly...then you need to find a place like my work that can polish your milk stretching and pouring practices.

              Its all about practice and learning...if you have the desire to learn, other baristas can see it. Youll get a job sooner or later

              Good luck!

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              • #8
                Re: First work experience

                Originally posted by 5972607C130 link=1259312969/5#5 date=1259369586
                This is an out there suggestion but what about looking at commercial roasters in your area?
                Be warned however that to be a good barista you dont need to know much about roasting they are two completely different skills. Not saying at all that there are negatives to knowing about the roasting process but just noting that it isnt necessary.

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                • #9
                  Re: First work experience

                  Ill second the roasters as a possible way in - I started off working in a small roastery. Was a very good place to learn and Id recommend it. Mightnt be necessary to know all that other side of things, but if its interesting to you why not?

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                  • #10
                    Re: First work experience

                    I see-i got a casual job recently at a coffee chain, even though they havent let me put my skills on the machine yet, it was a good experience handling customers and using the cashier.

                    Hopefully Ill get at that point soon instead of just handling shakes and slushies

                    Do roasteries look for any skills in particular? Just being curious

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