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  • Training the Barista

    Just a little story.
    There's a really exceptionally nice Bistro in a resort complex on the Coast near where I live.
    I go there regularly with a variety of friends/family for coffee, morning tea or lunch.
    They use one of the better brands of beans and the coffee has always been good.
    Unfortunately, like all of these outfits, the ownership/management changes occasionally so quality does vary somewhat.
    Dropped in on Sunday with a mate after taking the sports cars for a run and ordered a Piccolo Latte.
    Blank stare from the very pleasant young barista which prompted me to ask in a friendly way whether she knew how to make a Piccolo.
    Response resulted in the provision of some further information from me about the number of shots, size of cup, and use of steamed milk.
    Coffee duly arrived and it was fine.
    A bit later I asked for a Macchiato, and we again went through the routine of how many shots, what sized cup etc, at which point she said "Oh yes, with a dollop of cream on top". Alarm bells started ringing so I quickly said, "Ah.. spoonfull of frothed milk" - to which she replied "Oh yes, not icecream, I was thinking of Affogato". Crisis averted.
    The 'Macca' arrived with the Demi pretty well full (it was obviously topped up with hot water) but the coffee was OK (for a long black)
    It makes me realise how irresponsible many employers are that they obviously make no attempt to train their baristas properly.
    This young lady probably had everything needed to be a really good barista but noone was bothering with training. I guess if she sticks with it long enough she might seek out a Barista Course somewhere, but in the meantime half her potential is wasted.

  • #2
    I've been asked by a few people how the best way to become a barista.

    I usually direct them to courses listed by specialty cafes or specialty coffee academy.

    These offer the best training. Not just about making coffee properly but also knowledge of how and where coffee is grown as well as processed. Some basic but informative knowledge of how coffee is roasted may be given.

    Of course, training properly gives them the training wheels and a stepping stone to a life as a barista, but it doesn't stop there.
    Passion is a major key in excellence and ongoing support and training on the job in the right environment

    Young people thrive on compliments. If it's a good cup of coffee that's well made, we should give a verbal credit to those youngsters. It gives them confidence and a willingness to strive to make a better cup.

    We know all too often a person can ask for a job as a counter hand and then thereafter they are let loose behind a coffee machine without formal training. It's from these places that coffee is made without any real understanding of the facts and science behind it.

    OT. This lovely lady should be given details to a accredited barista course. She seems like a responsive person so that's a good start.

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    • #3
      Training the Barista

      I'm amazed at how many so called barista's can't properly make an espresso.
      Ask them for a milk based drink and yeah they make that quite well most of the time.
      I suppose the reason for this is if the espresso shot is below average, the milk will often cover up to a point.
      I find there is a lot of emphasis on art & presentation which is fine for milk based drinks but often the barista,s attention to detail goes out the window when making espresso.

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      • #4
        Very true, but I'm not surprised unfortunately. For many places, a huge proportion of their business is in milk-based drinks, and many customers are not particularly discerning. I suspect many owners start with very good intentions, and then realise that the financial returns to high quality (as opposed to ok quality) are not always that great.

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        • #5
          Good post Rocky.

          Originally posted by Rocky View Post
          This young lady probably had everything needed to be a really good barista but noone was bothering with training.
          I guess that's the punchline and that training requirement should have been a priority of the owner/manager of the store. Have you considered saying similar to the owner?

          If she made good coffees with some over the counter instruction from you then with some real training and a dose of passion to improve she could become your favourite barista. The owner of the cafe might view coffee as line item on the profit/loss statement and might need some encouragement to view training of their staff as an investment that should have a greater return than the spend. ;-)

          The other angle is always the coffee supplier. I've told a few roasters over the years when I've come across someone using their product without much training (think - good coffee turned bad at the machine)... Some roasters care, some don't but I would like to think that the majority would want their product going out as good as possible.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
            I suspect many owners start with very good intentions, and then realise that the financial returns to high quality (as opposed to ok quality) are not always that great.
            Sure, but in this case Rocky would have posted "Excellent cafe on the coast" in our "Good Coffee Where" pages and more CS'rs would have swung by to try it out when in the area. High quality often equals loyalty and great word of mouth (or Internet) marketing.

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            • #7
              The root cause is the owner. If they don't care the coffee won't be great.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Andy View Post
                Sure, but in this case Rocky would have posted "Excellent cafe on the coast" in our "Good Coffee Where" pages and more CS'rs would have swung by to try it out when in the area. High quality often equals loyalty and great word of mouth (or Internet) marketing.
                Sorry. I should have made it clear that I was replying to fg1972s post rather than Rocky's. Couldn't agree more with Rocky's post.

                When I buy a coffee I walk about half a mile and wait 10 minutes when there.....coz they're bloody good. I have an average place 30 metres from my office door (but they are full most times.....)

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