I recently started managing a brand new coffee bar in a bakery. We have a about 6 baristas of varying skill level, ranging from poorly trained and Starbucks to professionally trained with stellar technique.
While proper technique is readily seeped up by everyone, standards of cleanliness and etiquette seem to over all but one person's head. Gentle reminders to wipe grinds off the counter, rinse pitchers and generally leave the coffee area in an acceptable state are acknowledged and then forgotten.

What would you think was an acceptable way to teach some proper barista etiquette to oblivious baristas and how should one react to someone who just can't seem to grasp it. Is pulling a messy Barista off bar and saying "Try again tomorrow" inappropriate Just because they leave grinds on the counter and tools dirty?

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Instruct and demonstrate, if not done verbal warning, if still not done written warning signed acknowledging receipt, if still not done terminated.

Agreed with Mike. It is important to take tangible steps (like written and signed warning - acknowledging if they don't step up you will find someone who will) even with seemingly silly little things like a few grounds on the bar. That should most certainly whip them into shape if they have any genuine interest in keeping their job (which most do). It might help (if you haven't already) to talk about the reason you would want to keep the bar and area in tip top shape, going from steam wands, to drip tray, to countertop, and hopefully it will click that this is an important thing.

Thanks guys.
I want to follow that type of standard procedure, but I guess I wasn't sure how picky is too picky.
Judging from what you guys have said I won't hesitate at a write-up for even small thing if there have been several verbal warnings.

I concur with Mike, but I also have some additional thoughts:

- What type of training protocol does the coffeebar/bakery have?: Cleanliness and bar efficiency are pillars of being a good barista, and should be included in training. If your employees/baristas aren't trained to be clean until after they're working in front of customers, you're going to fight an uphill battle, and more than likely lose some employees because of it (which could very well be a positive thing).

- The concept of "small things" or "being nitpicky": I haven't read anything in this discussion that I would consider "small". These are standard practices, not "ideal wishes". In my opinion, if you consider something to be a "small thing", you should reconsider why you're spending your time and money worrying about it. Everything you do, every motion behind the counter, has a purpose, and is not "small", it's "standard". Also, above all else, you're the manager, so technically your staff is being insubordinate. 

Those are my two cents. When I see a messy bar, my first thought is "I bet they don't wash their hands after using the bathroom, either". 

Be sure to document these incidents. If you do not do so and termination comes about, you could have issues ie unemployment claims or wrongful termination claims and that is no fun.

I know I'm a little late here but was just wondering how everything was going with the new position?

I own 3 shops myself and could be considered very nit picky by certain people that work for me.

With my closers, if they leave a mess, they get a call at 4:45 a.m. letting them know they have 30 minutes to come clean up their left over mess.  If they fail to do this they get a write up.  They usually get called in once that early and don't leave a mess afterward.

As far as during shift mess goes that can be tricky.  I agree with Mike with what he said earlier.  Another thing I enjoy doing is (assuming I'm able) is kick them off the machine.  Everyone I have working for me really enjoys the machine.  So taking that away from them for a day or two really makes things stick like grinds to a counter.  When I have done this is the past I really make sure to let them know why.  I've suspended for a few days as well.

These things work if the barista really enjoys their job.  If you're able be creative.  Yes, you must first try the traditional warnings and things like that, but after that (assuming its a barista you want to keep) be creative.

Hope all is going well

Employees are like toddlers. They constantly test you. With you as the new leader of the pack, they check how do you behave. Now it's your turn to ensure everyone stays in line.

If you now hang this guy in the alley, the rest will know that you are a very serious person, and you'll have a working team, at least they will obey (to a certain degree, and for a period of time), but I don't know if that's what you want, at least it's bakery and not a stalag :)

cleanness is one of the key things for a Batista and at least you'll should, talk about this with your guy.  I love Jim's Post showing some correctional activities to get the guys back  in line again.

I just joined and figure the reply won't hurt. I agree with all the points expressed as a former manager and for now a barista. Any barista worth his or her weight in espresso will take pride in their work area and know that it is a standard to keep it as clean as possible when using it and to leave it clean before stepping away.

At my current shop we are ranked in a hierarchy based on several factors, not the least of which is work area cleanliness. We use this because we have multiple work stations and so the best barista is on the busiest side. We have a very good team so we can use positive peer pressure quite freely as well.

We include the cleanliness as part of the training. A average barista can make a good drink... A Great Barista can make a great drink, while speaking to the customer and keeping their station clean. We explain to our crew that the barista station is like to fancy sports car on the car lot. The sports car is what sits out front and catches the eye of everyone that comes in. If the sports car is dirty it only catches negative attention. You have probably hear ‘Keep your dinning area clean, keep your bathrooms cleaner. If customers see that you care enough to this they will know that you care enough to keep your kitchen and food prep spotless.’ We had to teach our health inspector how an espresso machine works and how we would be using it. We had to explain the dedicated rag and how often it would be rinsed (after every use). How we would use the heat of the steam to sanitize it. How the pitchers would be kept cleaned and how the counters would be kept wiped. He was very impressed and now he looks for that in every up-start shop that tries to compete with us. At our shop, Barista is a higher paid position, not everyone on crew is barista trained. A Barista has had to learn scullery, frappes, food prep/ warming, sandwich prep, cashier. Then and only then are they trusted with the black gold that is the heart of the Coffee House. They learn to brew coffee and then lastly Barista!

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