Attention all Bosses and owners!!! What your baristas wish you knew!


So there has been a great response from owners and managers over on the other thread:


I hope that all you baristas have been reading the responses seriously. Here at Cafe Kuba lwe  are in the midst of hiring and I wish that some of our potential new hires expressed the things listed in the responses. There is gold in them thar hills! So if you just glanced over it it as so much "blah, blah, blah" do yourself a favor and re-read it and apply what you read.


Now...I want to hear from the baristas only!


BARISTAS! What is it that you wish your boss knew?

As a work a day barista for just about all my career I will start...(also as a manager these are things I strive for...


1. Communicate and demonstrate your expectations...regularly.

This one for me has always been a frustration. It should be clear from the previous discussion that the world of an owner or boss can be wrought with many distractions that steal attention away from the most important aspect of the cafe. THE STAFF! Seriously. You can have the worlds best coffee and best equipment and best macro photography of both of those things and it won't matter to the customer if the staff is neglected. There is nothing more frustrating than the lack of communicated expectations. Many baristas just want to know they are doing well, making progress, and pleasing their boss. They quickly give up on this notion when they realize their boss is doling out blanket compliments not based on true knowledge or observation but in the spirit of shallow praise. I want honest, well thought out, circumstantially well informed, and helpful praise and criticism.Don't praise me if I don't deserve praise. I can see through it and it perpetuates the communication problem.


2. Be on my side...

  This is not a one way street. Baristas must take up the cause of their employer as their own or else they ought not expect their boss to do the same. That said, there are many times when a boss will treat a barista with condescension in front of a customer or supplier etc. Using the barista as scapegoat for the problem at hand. Even if it was the baristas fault...and not the customers...use the word "we" be diplomatic, address the problem later if you must one-on-one...but there is nothing as demoralizing as being thrown under the bus in front of the people you see everyday, and your boss does not. Often times a boss will create a difficult scenario and leave the scene. Leaving it up to the baristas to bear the brunt of their decisions. As a boss if you do not feel the weight of your decisions then you are entirely too detached. If you do not stand by your employees they will not be inspired to take on the commission of your shop. You are the fall on the sword, you are to blame, and you get the credit. It goes hand in hand.


3. I have a life outside coffee.

  This one is tricky because, well, much of my life IS coffee...but really I cannot expect my baristas to share in this because they are meant for other things. As a boss, you are often times staffed by those who have both talent in coffee AND in say music, engineering, social work etc...they are ambitious in both. Don't pour any contempt on the non coffee related ambitions by purposing to not invest into that staff member who YOU HIRED but is not as available as the full time employees. The are just as valuable.


So these are just a few things off the top of my head here.

Baristas, what say you?


Make your posts civil and polite. If you know your boss reads this sites threads then I would encourage you to go to your boss first and tell them these things, then would be terribly awkward for your boss to find out about these things first on line.

You guys are the backbone of this industry and I know you have a lot to offer in way of helpful feedback to those who make your jobs possible.

So lets hear it!



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I think Number 3 is important.


I see too many people in the coffee biz too focused on coffee - as though coffee is their life.  For them, I feel pity because there's more to life than coffee.  I regularly tell people that coffee is not my life, it's what I do for a living.


That said, I encourage my staff to nurture their own creative outlets outside of the coffee business.  We work hard every day to produce one of the finest customer experiences in the coffee industry.  It's tough work and I don't want my staff focused solely on coffee. I want them to explore other avenues to grow and bring back that experience to their work.


Explore things outside of coffee but toe the line when it comes to the shop.  Provide for our guests and protect company interests.  It all goes hand-in-hand.


I wish "I" could work only 45 hours. Heck, sixty hours a week would be a nice change of pace...

You covered some really good things in your post. One of the biggest for me is feeling like we are on the same team. If I cant count one you to have my back, then why would I be loyal back to you.

Reward hard work, and make a point to notice when extra things were done. Honestly even just saying "hey yesterday you had an awesome close", or "damn that cappuccino you made me was great". These things go a long way.

Always be timely on reviews. When you hire me on, and tell me that after 6 months there will be a review(and raise if appropriate) then make sure 6 months from now that happens. I cant tell you how many times I have to remind employers that I was suppost to have a rewiew last month, or the month before, and then have to remind them 5 more times before it happens.


Oh ya and one last thing, WE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE!!!! I cant stress enough the importance of this. Ive been lucky enough to work a couple coffee houses that offer it, and I was extremely greatful! Maybe you cant afford it right now, but please keep it in mind and offer it in the future if possible.

Great points, Dustin!


At the shop I work for we are almost always alone on shift, so we have to deal with whatever comes up.  I really appreciate that my boss is supportive about it.  If I make a decision that he would have done differently, then he calmly explains why.  "Next time this comes up, deal with it this way" kind of stuff rather than yelling at us or getting angry.  I feel comfortable making decisions and don't have to constantly call and ask what to do.  Policies and rules are great, but they can only go so far.  He also makes it clear what kind of problems I need to call him about.

I agree most with the first point made in this discussion regarding communication from owners/management to staff. My employer and his wife own three stores within a part of my city, and "issues" (because the word "problems" is to pessimistic) arise daily. I've never once gotten constructive criticism or encouragement from them without provocation. It's just not their style.

We have store meetings once every 4 months, and that's only because the staff will have veered off course somehow and began doing things the way they shouldn't be done. Yes, some of this is our fault. Ultimately, however, I believe that since my store lacks an easily accessible recipe book, store manual, and a company book, we're really at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting their expectations. Especially when the owners irregularly train the new hires.


So, yes. The baristas do tend to really, really mess up things. Owners and managers, I completely understand because I see it everyday. You can't deny, however, that baristas don't just walk in to a shop and instantaneously descend in to chaos unless they haven't been trained to avoid that route. If you don't see me everyday, you aren't guiding me to do my best. If your manager doesn't walk in on shifts he doesn't normally see, he doesn't have an opportunity to fully grasp how his/her cafe is working on a daily basis. If you want an idea of how it all works, ask both your employees AND trusted regulars what they think is happening. You'll get a very good answer.


In summation, I'd love to feel as if my boss truly appreciated my work with him and his wife since July 2009. I honestly can't say that it's been expressed to me whether they enjoy my working for them or not. I'd love to know I'm doing a good job. Knowing I'm good at this keeps me trying to get better, if you want to know the truth.

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