Whether you’re a seasoned cafe manager or a burgeoning coffee shop entrepreneur you’ll know that training baristas are an ongoing process crucial to the success of your business. Despite whether your new hires have experience or not, they will still need to be put through your training program to ensure their prosperity at your cafe.
With these eight fundamentals, you’ll have the tools to create an effective barista training program.
Set the expectations
Guest services and interpersonal skills
Working knowledge unique to your coffee shop
Teach the “why” as well as the how
Repetition, repetition, repetition
Check-in and evaluate
Before jumping into the fundamentals of training a new barista, let’s set the standard length of time for the training process to be completed from start to finish. First, we need to recognize that every barista that sets foot into your coffee shop will have a different level of experience and will require different lengths of time to complete their training. However, the average training program should last no longer than one month with most new hires able to stand on their own two feet after two to three weeks.
Though all of the training fundamentals listed here are of ongoing importance, your coffee shop-specific program for basic training is best organized over a single month to allow for sufficient time to cover each subject without rushing through.
Set The Expectations
Setting the expectations for new employees is the first step in building the foundation for their success at your coffee shop. Everyone works better within a structure that they know what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to go about doing it. Agreeing upon set expectations will empower your baristas to work within a clearly defined role which will optimize their effectiveness in their new position. The following is a roadmap of how to set clear expectations for new employees.
- Emphasize Objectives – Set goals with your new and current baristas. Create a plan to help achieve these goals that allow your employees to succeed autonomously. Finally, set a measurable outcome for success and have an open dialogue for why the set objectives were successful or not.
- Set Expectations Early – From day one, focus on communicating what role your new barista will be playing in running a smooth operation. Having a clear list of expectations in regards to responsibilities and workplace culture sets the foundation for accountability within your coffee shop.
- Hold Employees Accountable – Making expectations clear at every point affords you as the manager the ability to hold employees accountable for their goals and responsibilities. Check in with your new employees to gauge their progress. Praise them for their achievements and discuss what could be done differently in times of failure.
- Give Meaningful Feedback – Feedback should always be constructive and focused on building an employee up as opposed to breaking them down. Don’t shy away from hard conversations as this will help you build respect as a manager and show your employees that you are invested in their success.
- Motivate – Discover what motivates each employee individually. Personalize how the goals you set together will impact their career path.
- Make It Measurable – Clear expectations and goals lead to clear results.
Guest Services And Interpersonal Skills
Regardless of whether or not a barista can make a great coffee drink, genuine hospitality will make them just as much of an asset as great skill. The ability to give genuine hospitality will not only endear your guests to your coffee shop but also plays an integral role in creating repeat business. Coaching a new barista on creating a great guest experience from start to finish can be a daunting task due to the idea that hospitality is something that must be felt to be effective, but by following the three Ps of hospitality you can set a new employee up for success in this aspect of their training.
First, professionalism is the most basic concept behind great customer service. Keeping a cool head in the face of any situation is a must and the ability to maintain poise shows a guest or another employee that there is a solution to their issue. Everyone is human, but the ability to keep yourself from getting caught up in the moment will ultimately strengthen and employees’ relationships with guests and associates alike.
Next, practicing patience is a requirement for success in any service-driven industry. Teach your staff that flexibility in service guidelines is necessary for creating a consistent experience for every guest based on their needs.
Finally, teaching that maintaining empathy for your guest while putting forth a “people first” attitude will allow your baristas to further connect with guests on another level. We all have things going on outside of what’s merely happening at the moment and the ability to recognize this gives a barista an advantage in tailoring their service to each guest.
Working Knowledge Unique To Your Coffee Shop
Some of this knowledge will come simply by working in the space but other pieces will need to be taught explicitly. This involves everything from where individual items can be found, how to store products, and the intricacies of working your brand of the espresso machine.
Every barista should have a working knowledge of the different coffee varieties; where they come from and what distinguishes them from each other. Also, being able to differentiate between the varying roasts as well as what makes them unique and how they affect the final flavor of the coffee is equally as important.
Much like sommeliers do for wine training, creating a detailed packet of information explaining the unique characteristics of each of the major coffee beans by origin and allowing your new baristas to sample them is a great way to cement this knowledge into their mind.
Nowadays, It would be of benefit to have some working knowledge of the process of going from bean to cup, the roasting process, and information about fair trade and the relationships between farmers and consumers.
In addition to coffee knowledge, training every new barista on the technical aspects of the job is integral to their success at your coffee shop. Don’t assume that every person that you hire for the position possesses these skills inherently. Having a detailed training program for technical skills needed to do the job will also allow you to intentionally hire people with great personalities but little or no experience, thus expanding your potential hiring pool. Below is a quick overview of some of the most important skills needed to be a successful barista.
- Grinding – Having an understanding of how the different grind sizes affect the final flavor profile of the coffee and which is needed for optimal results in regards to the brew method.
- Espresso Making – Tamping, distribution, pre-infusion, pressure profiling, and flow profiling are important techniques to touch on in addition to espresso-based drink creation.
- Milk Work – How to steam and froth milk properly and the basics of latte art.
- Brew Methods – Know the different types of brewers outside of espresso and drip and their distinct differences.
Check out how to train your employees HERE.
Teach The “Why”
Simply put, You can teach anyone how to do something but they will never do it well unless they understand why they are doing it that way. The same goes for you when training a new barista. Explaining the purpose of action adds relevance to the technique involved in doing it a certain way.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
We are all familiar with the idea of “practice makes perfect,” but what is it about repetition that makes it so important in the training process? Encouraging your new baristas to practice their craft familiarizes them with the techniques that you are teaching and moves those actions from their conscious to their subconscious eventually making it so that they don’t even have to think about what they are doing. Efficient.
Check-In And Evaluate
The importance of checking in with a trainee can not be understated. Monitor the training program through one-on-ones or impromptu conversations with the trainee to ensure that they are moving through without any snags. This is where you can catch any problems during the process and correct them before they become an issue later on. Finally, evaluating the effectiveness of the training process gives you the knowledge to train better each time and improve your program in the future.
What if a trainee doesn’t make it through the training program?
When a trainee doesn’t make it through the training program there are two questions that you need to ask yourself. One is the training program too difficult or ineffective at teaching the proper knowledge to succeed. Two was that person a bad candidate for the job and did not possess the desire to learn the necessary skills to succeed.
How do you know if your training program is effective?
Checking in with your trainees throughout the process and evaluating their progress during and after completing the program will greatly help you determine the answer to this question.
How can you tell a good barista candidate from a bad one?
The biggest distinguishing factor in differentiating a good candidate from a bad candidate is their overall attitude. Anyone with a great attitude and willingness to learn and work as a team can become a great barista even if they are lacking some of the required knowledge.
Looking to learn more about how to start your very own coffee shop? Download our Free eBook here as well as receive our Free newsletter with great tips on how to start your very own coffee shop!
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.