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Thread: When is a barista too old?

  1. #1
    PJ
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    When is a barista too old?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hey

    Ive been on this site a couple of times talking about the difficulties Ive had getting a job making coffee/getting into the coffee industry.Last time I posted a message here *someone asked me to come in for an interview for a barista position he had available in his cafe.I sent him my resume via email,and he sent me back an email basically saying that,at 40,I was too old,and that it would be "too hard to teach an old dog new tricks"as he had had problems once before with an older employee. I could understand his wariness,but assured him that when it came to coffee,I was totally open to learning everything I could.I never heard back from him.So I was wondering,how do other people feel about that?Am I over the hill,past it,flogging a dead horse etc etc,or should age be no barrier to making a good coffee?


  2. #2
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    One would think that experience would make for a better barista. My spouse applied for a job at a coffee shop and was basically stopped at the start due to age. It did not fit the corporate image >:(. Perhaps they have not read the Discrimination Act properly :o.

    Nor have they taken into account that the more experience one has with coffee the more one realises how much there is still to learn. As a manager I have had experience with older workers joining my industry and whilst they present some challenges with changing their practices they have become valued employees and are much more reliable that some of the younger employees (not all).

    It is probably obvious that I am well over 40 ;D ;D

    I hope your next experience is more rewarding - keep trying.

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I reckon the the guy was a discriminatory idiot for rejecting you purely on the basis of age, & not at least giving you a go on a trial basis.

    In an industry that is notorious for high turnover, I cannot fathom why employers would prefer flighty younger people to more settled, reliable older people with more life experience. :-?

    Be perserverant PJ - someone will eventually see your worth. Good luck ;)

    Tony (a 39 yr old self-employed barista)

  4. #4
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I got a part time job last year with no commercial experience.
    I was 47 then.

    My take is that sometimes the young ones are harder to teach because they arent mature enough.
    For example, its easier to teach a 25 year old karate than a 10 year old.
    True though that teaching an arthritic 60 year old would be difficult.

    If speed speed and stamina are a requirement he may have an argument but its silly to say you couldnt learn.

    When I was a delivery driver for Pizza Hut the most reliable drivers were the old blokes.
    We never missed a shift whereas the young ones either got distracted by "more important" things or their cars broke down.
    I worked there for 6 years.
    My employee number was 3 digit, by the time I left numbers were in the 20,000s.
    That shows the turnover of mostly young people.

    Try talk him into a few trial shifts.
    Full pay rate (its illegal otherwise).
    Put it in writing if it makes him feel better.

    If you have it in writing that he said youre too old, you have grounds to sue for discrimination.
    If you are game enough you could use that to get your foot in the door.
    If youd be uncomfortable working there because of that then just sue the bastard and find a boss youd be happier to work with.


  5. #5
    PJ
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Hey guys

    Thanks for the messages and the encouragement,its much appreciated.I dont have a huge amount of experience and this guy knew this,and was willing to give me a go,until he found out my age.i thought about pursuing the matter,and even thought about legal action,but decided that I really would not want to work with someone like that anyway. I have to say that I was a little discouraged at first but I do believe something will come up.See,being older is a good thing,you dont give up as easily!

    Tony,would love to hear how you became self -employed

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    TC
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Hi PJ,

    For me the answer to your question is an easy one- and it applies equally to baristi and cafe owners...

    You are too old when your mind is closed to new ideas and learning.....

    Chris

  7. #7
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Sounds like we know who is really too old in PJs story.

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    The guy is probably just stingy and doesnt want to pay you a full wage, when he can get a junior (under 21) for much much less.

    Being a junior (18 years old) this really really annoys me, I can work just as hard (harder most of the time) than the 22, 23 etc. at work but because I am 18 I only have to be paid 3/4 of their wage. :(

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Though it wont help your cause PJ,.. you can quietly laugh at the reality that this guys opinion of what is too old....will shift with time... ;)

    Hang in there and keep trying.. youll do it!!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Dont let it get to you PJ. Im guessing the employer was younger than you and that in itself could be difficult for that person - sometimes a younger boss finds it hard giving direction to an older employee.

    The bit about being too old to learn is has been proven to be incorrect. There is a long list of famous people who didnt enter their field till in their 60s and beyond.

    Pity that some employers like this one, dont consider facts like: older employees are more likely to stay around longer, take less sick leave, have fewer incidents of workers comp claims, are at least as, or more productive than their juniors, etc.

    Might be hard to appreciate right now, but youre lucky you didnt get that particular job.

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1209275105/0#5 date=1209280739
    Hi PJ,

    For me the answer to your question is an easy one- and it applies equally to baristi and cafe owners...

    You are too old when your mind is closed to new ideas and learning.....

    Chris
    I whole heartedly agree with this comment. Youre too old when youre unwilling to accept new ideas. However, as someone who works in the specialty coffee industry, I know what cafe owners are after. Theyre after young, fun going, funky and hard working staff. A lot of people get knocked back for FOH positions because theyre too old for this very reason.

    PJ, unfortunately youll experience this at 99% of the places you apply for. As for forcing their arm (as per thundergod suggestion), thats really up to you....but Im not sure if this is the best way of getting your foot in the door.

    Good luck,

    David

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I stopped putting my age and date of birth on my cv when I was in my late 30s :) I also started dropping the older jobs off my cv at that time. I figured that if I got to interview then theyd have to at least talk to me and its much easier face to face to work out if youd suit each other. Age plays less of a factor once you get talking.

    I agree with the others, hang in there and youll find something good, where you and the employer actually get along - which is pretty important IMO.

  13. #13
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I say again that last year at the age of 47 and with the cafe owner sending me packing after he asked if Id had any experience and me answering in the negative, I still managed to convince him to let me make him a coffee.
    That got me a seat and more of an interview.
    Pictures of my home gear had him thinking I was mad but convinced him to give me a go.
    (I have done a course.)

    Persist.

    Youll get there.

  14. #14
    PJ
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Thanks again to everyone for their messages,all very thought provoking and inspiring! Yeah,I think Im going to start modifying my resume,so at least I can get to actually meet people.And I agree that youre only old when you stop being open to learning.

    I figured that people would probably want young funky people ,I get that,and I certainly dont want to start my coffee career on a negative note,like trying to force my way into a job.And Iagree that its unfair that younger people get paid less for the same job-mad!!

    Anyway,thanks again,I feel much better about it all now.Cheers

  15. #15
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Im 41 and Im making the best coffee of my life - & even though Ive been making coffee for longer than many of my staff have been alive I still have a lot to learn!

    Pat

  16. #16
    PJ
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Isnt it funny how people think that your brain stops functioning the second you hit 40?Strange...

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    Bon
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I was back home for a holiday in Newcastle a couple of weeks ago... I went to this cafe that makes bad coffee, but it didnt matter where I went I was always going to get bad coffee... so I figured I may as well enjoy something if Im not going to enjoy my coffee - the hot barista and waitresses ;D

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    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Its funny how people make associations about age I mean Im in my forties and I used to have trouble remembering things but now I...

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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Sorry forgot why I opened this POST. ::)

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    What was the title of this post again?

    I like TGs idea of offering to make them a coffee. Chances are, even with the stale beans they use, that might be the best cup of coffee the owner would have had for a while.... Though I have to say that my first few attempts at steaming milk on a commercial machine ended up either way too hot or too frothy... way different to a small single boiler machine.

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    As a young bussiness owner I think I have a different perspective.

    I have employed (and let go) people who are lazy, unwilling to learn, rude, unreliable, think they are the best, and think they know everything.
    I have also had and have some great staff.
    Some of these people were 16, some were 48, and everywhere in between.

    I dont think age is a factor, people have an outlook or attitude based on their experiences so far.

  22. #22
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Well said.

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    two words... EYE CANDY...


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    Senior Member Lizzie's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    eye candy?? mmmm, no, *rather have a grumpy *septuagenarian passionate about his/her/my perfect coffee than a delectable youngun with bi-triceps/pectoral and gluteal curves, a really positive attitude and a toothbleach-whitened smile.. who produces c@#p coffee ;)

    IMHO, age is not important in any front-of-house situation, be it food or service ... passion *for, and *knowledge of the product they "sell" as well as a comprehensive concept of customer care , however, *are essential attributes. :)

    L

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Will totally agree with Pioneer Roaster,
    It does not matter what age the person is, it completely comes down to their attitude, willingness to learn and motivation to work well with high standards!

  26. #26
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I have 3 employees all over 40
    One just recently retired at 68
    (even at 68 he could run rings around persons younger than him)

    I will add to above comments

    Reliability, Honesty, and working without supervision are all key Attributes

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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    In this day for a job to be denied to someone because of age is not only illegal is is just plain ignorant. Age has nothing to do with the making and serving of coffee. Whats importent is their intrest, passion for and dedication to "Getting It Right" not what year they were born.

    The enjoyment of working with coffee is something that can be shared by all. Not just a certain age group.

  28. #28
    Senior Member redzone121's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    The day I choose a cafe based on what the age and/or buff of the staff , is the day....well you know its madness!!



  29. #29
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    When is a barista too old? When hes laid out flat with tamper in hand and pushing up daisys! :)


    Java "No daisy pushing here!" phile

  30. #30
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    I hope I never get too old to pour a shot...

  31. #31
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: When is a barista too old?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile link=1209275105/15#28 date=1210408034
    When is a barista too old? When hes laid out flat with tamper in hand and pushing up daisys! :)
    Darn tootin ;D

    Mal.



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