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The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
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Ellie
Senior Member
Ellie
Joined: 3 Jul 2003
Posts: 53
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Professional

Posted Wed Jul 28, 2004, 10:56am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

Hello, friends!

First of all, I have to extend a colossal thank you to each of you for the compliments to Intelligentsia and to the content of my article.  Enthusiasm like all of yours is at the very heart of why we are in this business.   I am seriously amped that the concerns I tried to raise in the article seem to have hit home with all of you.  Your positive feedback does means so much to those of us on this side of the counter!  It is no secret that the espresso enthusiast/CG community is a vital part of this industry for those of us who strive for quality in the cup and in customer service.  

Please allow me to take a moment or two to answer some of the questions and comments raised in this thread.


tonx Said:

I like the emphasis on tasting the espresso...

Posted July 27, 2004 link

Thanks!  In my experience, this is the only method of training that really works.  

tonx Said:

I was surprised to see all the barista using a 30lb tamp........................I am curious how you arrived at this style and also how you handle fine adjustments of grind with multiple cooks in the kitchen.

Posted July 27, 2004 link

 Thanks for noticing!  We do train and require a 30-lb. tamp at our retail stores.  You are right that part of the driving force behind this is to create consistency from person to person.  You must have noticed that we actually keep a scale on the counter at both stores, right next to the Robur.  We strive for skill and education among all of our staff members to the highest possible standards, and so it is necessary that all of us tamp with the same pressure.  The high volume of both of our stores necessitates that the barista duties be shared in order to ensure that the barista- whomever it is- is always sharp.  When the inevitable burnout begins, the barista can always pass the proverbial baton to any other bar certifed employee, who can step in seamlessly to avoid any interruption in service.  

tonx Said:

I'm also curious about your experiences implementing higher quality standards to your wholesale accounts.  Do you feel that other shops using your beans are maintaining a good standard and what have been the challenges in that area?

Posted July 27, 2004 link

 This is a tricky subject, and one that I do not believe quality-driven roasters should take lightly.  You may be interested to know that the original intent of my article was to outline the differences in staff training and customer training, and the different challenges they present, but as you can tell, the staff element alone was more than enough material (perhaps this is a sneaky preview?!?!?!?!?- insert evil laugh here).  In training wholesale customers, believe it or not, we still tie everything to the taste of the espresso and drip coffee.  The trainer's number one priority is to make the cafe owner and her/his staff to see the value (ie what it does to the bottom line) in preparing espresso drinks properly.

 
www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
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Ellie
Senior Member
Ellie
Joined: 3 Jul 2003
Posts: 53
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Professional

Posted Wed Jul 28, 2004, 11:24am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

expobar Said:

It makes me happy that you only have one flavor, and you're a big-time company.  What kind of syrups do you use?

Posted July 27, 2004 link

We have Monin vanilla syrup at our stores.  I'm glad it's the only one we have, too.

expobar Said:

Seems like Intelligentsia runs a pretty tight ship, do the employees have fun?

Posted July 27, 2004 link

I smiled the first time I read this post, and every time since!  To know for sure, I guess I would have to ask all of them (our store staff), but what I can say is that they either have a lot of fun or are very good actors.  I should add that it doesn't hurt that "going to work" for us means "going to the land of eternal coffee."  We also, in general, have very low turnover and try to promote from within, which usually makes and/or indicates happy employees.  I, for one, have a lot of fun with the awesome people in this company.

expobar Said:

Also, is latte art required at intelligentsia?

Posted July 27, 2004 link

Learning latte art (specifically the Rosetta) is part of our barista certification and probably the most difficut part at that.  So yes, it is required for all employees that serve drinks in the stores to pour with latte art.

malachi Said:

My only comment would be that it seems like it is very valuable to have training be an ongoing activity, rather than a one-time deal. We've worked on identifying "advanced" techniques to frame this with veteran employees, as well as having senior employees teach some "technique specific" seminar style training sessions. It seems to make it more "palatable."

Posted July 27, 2004 link

I could not agree more.  We try to pound the point home that certification really is the beginning, and essentially represents the bare minimum of preparation standards.  We have found that our veteran baristas are very protective of the standards and skills that they have worked so hard to master.  We've had good results of our veteran staff helping the newest baristas get better, and it's always important to keep the veterans challenged with learning new skills and knowledge.  malachi, I would love to hear more about your seminar-style training devices.

bxntrk Said:

How long does the training take?  Do you let outsiders in?  Maybe it could be a new profit center for Intelligensia.

Posted July 28, 2004 link

 Thank you for your interest.  We are in the R&D phase of how to develop our certification program for the public.  I think there is definitely a demand for something like what we offer our staff and we hope to create a program that fills this need.  I'll keep you updated!

 
www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
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spinnaker007
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spinnaker007
Joined: 24 Apr 2003
Posts: 1,783
Location: Chicago!
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 6:39am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

Nice cup with BlackCat logo!  Isn't that trainee Amber?  I sure wouldn't call her a trainee, I have seen her latte art, pretty awesome!
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ThaRiddla
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Joined: 27 May 2003
Posts: 181
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM GS/3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 8:20am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

spinnaker007 Said:

Nice cup with BlackCat logo!  Isn't that trainee Amber?  I sure wouldn't call her a trainee, I have seen her latte art, pretty awesome!

Posted July 29, 2004 link

Everyone here is always in training :)
....your art isn't so bad yourself, Steve.
Excellent article Ellie!


*shameless plug*
Look for those cups toward the end of August. :)

 
www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
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spinnaker007
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spinnaker007
Joined: 24 Apr 2003
Posts: 1,783
Location: Chicago!
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 8:28am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

Hello Matt,

It has been awhile to see a post from you!  Hope all is well...The new cup sure looks nice, canít wait to get my hands on one of those bad boys...I heard you guys will have a new and refreshing look for your website. When will it be up and running?

Cheers,

Steve

BTW, I kept forgetting to say that I totally disagree what Ellie said about "Latte art technically doesn't improve the taste of a cappuccino, but it completes the sensory experience" in her article.  A cappa with a beautiful art tastes a lot sweeter, really! : )
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espressoDOM
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espressoDOM
Joined: 1 May 2003
Posts: 2,188
Location: Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: WEGA Lyra (vibe)
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
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Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 8:49am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

ThaRiddla Said:

*shameless plug*
Look for those cups toward the end of August. :)

Posted July 29, 2004 link

when the cups are available let me know and I can place my order all at once... I want one of those PF holders.... and some Black Cat

 
DOM...evil genius ...Up to no good in espresso at all times... VIVA la parts de Espresso
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ThaRiddla
Senior Member


Joined: 27 May 2003
Posts: 181
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM GS/3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 3:13pm
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

spinnaker007 Said:

...I heard you guys will have a new and refreshing look for your website. When will it be up and running?

Posted July 29, 2004 link

Soon....VERY VERY VERY soon.

umm.....VERY soon.

spinnaker007 Said:

BTW, I kept forgetting to say that I totally disagree what Ellie said about "Latte art technically doesn't improve the taste of a cappuccino, but it completes the sensory experience" in her article.  A cappa with a beautiful art tastes a lot sweeter, really! : )

Posted July 29, 2004 link

I think what was meant was that the "art" part of it doesn't improve the taste. I think there  is no question that the process that is required to achieve latte art improves the quality of the drink tremendously. I've made drinks side-by-side steaming the same, and the latte art drink is far better. If all the steps in the process are followed with the end result being latte art, then the drink will taste better.

 
www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
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Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 6:39pm
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

spinnaker007 Said:

BTW, I kept forgetting to say that I totally disagree what Ellie said about "Latte art technically doesn't improve the taste of a cappuccino, but it completes the sensory experience" in her article.  A cappa with a beautiful art tastes a lot sweeter, really! : )

Posted July 29, 2004 link

Oops, that was your Editor's perogative... er. my tagline added to the photo's comment. Mainly comes from my discussions with shops that will gripe about latte art and say "it adds nothing to the cup!!!" and I would say "yeah, sure. Coffee doesn't include sensory in its list of influences on your taste experience? what do you call sight?"

Mark

 
CoffeeGeek Senior Editor
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ant
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Posted Thu Jul 29, 2004, 11:11pm
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

Thanks a lot for the article, it couldn't have been in a more timely fashion for me!  The level of detail far surpasses what I was going to use when explaining my thoughts on coffee to my new co-workers, but at the same time it marks it out quite clearly with respect to what makes a good drink good etc.
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spinnaker007
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spinnaker007
Joined: 24 Apr 2003
Posts: 1,783
Location: Chicago!
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Jul 30, 2004, 6:36am
Subject: Re: The Challenges of Professional Barista Training, Professionally Speaking
 

I guess for me to try out the "Last Comic Standing" is totally mad... : (
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