Attention Baristas!!! What owners and managers wish you knew!

This thread is for owners and managers with both current and past experience...

 

If you could....List off the top three things that you wish baristas would get a grip on.

Often times the day to day of the bar is hurried and thoughts of "I really need to tell them_____" quickly forgotten when a order gets delivered, a fire needs to be put out etc.

Quite frankly, many managers and owners hold their tongue much more than they ought to and this leads to a tense work environment, un met expectations, and a drought of communication.

I have been on bar for about ten years now in many different bars. Now that I am a manager and trainer I try to communicate to my baristas the things I wish my managers had communicated to me and pass along the good stuff that they DID communicate to me.

If you are serious about your job as a barista then you need to heed the advice of those who post here as it will most likely determine whether or not you get a raise or not...or whether you are viewed as a valuable asset at all.

I will start:

1. Don't argue with me. Just follow instructions and bring up concerns later.

 I love feed back and discussions but their is a fine line between honest questions and suggestions and just being contrary. Even if your Boss is wrong, they are still your boss and your arguing a "right" point does not make you an asset to your boss it makes you a liability. Best thing to do is to ask honest questions, gain understanding, and follow the directive. If you have a better way then ask for a moment to chat and bring it up as a way to enhance what your manager has already worked hard to put in place. If you come at it like you want to tear down and re-build...then good luck.

 

2. Be self directed and innovative.

   If I have to tell you to clean, or stock, or wash etc...fine you are a new hire and you are simply learning the ropes...but if that continues... even if you follow instructions to a "T" you will not be viewed as an asset to the company but as one who needs to be baby sat constantly. You may have a check list on your computer or hanging in the mop closet. But if you don't work beyond that, if you only do what is explicitly asked of you...you are not going anywhere with me. The type of person your manager is looking for is the person who automatically does what is on the check list without really ever needing the list. This is a behavior that CAN be learned but is difficult to instill in a workforce that expects too much too soon. You must earn you place.

3. It is not just about the coffee

   Ok. I remember working at Gimme! Coffee years ago. And in my review time I always did well in my drinks and efficiency behind the bar etc. In fact I became a trainer at gimme later on...but I consistently had bad marks when it came to the up keep of the greater coffee bar, ie: condiment station, stocking, cleaning tables etc. This was frustrating for me because I was, and still am, even more so, passionate about the quality. But it was to a fault. I had blinders on to the world around me. I hid behind the machine.I strove to improve this and gradually learned that it is more than just the coffee people come for, it is the service, and atmosphere too. I needed to channel my energies to those things if I ever hoped to be a professional in any sense of the word.

Because I went through it myself, now I can see it in baristas and call it early before it becomes ingrained. The specialty coffee world does not need any one trick ponies we need efficient and flexible work horses.

So then, you, though you are passionate about pour-over, and latte art, and awesome espresso. You need to realize that you may have blinders on to the other areas that need your attention. The sooner you realize this, own it, and correct it, the sooner your boss will take notice of you. You will be seen as a MVP because you embrace the total package and don't just retreat to the espresso machine.

 

So then, managers and owners...what would you add to these?

 

What do you want Baristas to know that will make them valuable to you and to the greater industry?

 

-cd

 

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Excellent post. Beverage knowledge and quality absolutey comes first. And indeed is only part of the coffeehouse experience. Serving great coffee in a messy environment doesn't cut it. A checklist is but the lowest common denominator of what needs to be done. A professional does what needs to be done when it needs to be done whether they feel like it or not. Periodically walk outside and walk back in with eyes of a customer. Look around and see what they see. The bathroom, especially the bathroom! Women will kill you with negative feedback for a messy or dirty bathroom!

 

Socializing, gabbing with customers is part and parcel of being a barista. However, a $3 beverage does not buy them 5 or 10 or 15 minutes of your undivided attention just because it happens to be a slow afternoon! Learn to talk WHILE doing what needs to be done, be it sweeping the floor or doing dishes or cleaning windows what ever needs to be done.

 

Want a raise? Consistently show by your actions you deserve it. Twice in the last two months I was going to surprise an employee with a pay bump. First time didn't because they failed to empty the bathroom garbage on close (plus a few other things not done) and again a month later was going to bump pay up and similar undone things happened. So it's another 30 days before I'll even consider it. Yeah, I need to see at least a months consistency before I feel there's real growth or behavior change.

I like everything stated here so far. One thing I would like my baristas to do is to take notice the shop. Are the displays messy? The umbrellas put up? Flowers dead or dying? Is the open sign turned on?

What do I wish baristas understood?

 

That we are fighting for every penny in a desperate bid to survive.

 

Grind waste, milk waste, drink mistakes, product throwaways - it all kills our bottom line and our ability to continue as an operation.  Your job and livelihood depends on your ability to maximize profitability for the company.  Want a raise?  Then increase efficiency.

 

Two ounces of milk waste may be perfectly acceptable for a cappuccino at the World Barista Championship (where they don't care about how much money they are wasting), but you make 64 drinks with that amount of waste and you've just destroyed a gallon of milk.  And it's more than the $5.25 for the gallon, it's $48 in lost drink revenue because you've wasted that gallon.

 

Yes, I know you hate on Starbucks and that you keep harping about how their quality sucks, but you know what?  I don't care.  It's not germane.  Starbucks currently runs 18% labor and generates 55% of their revenue strictly from coffee drink sales.  Add to that, they're pulling 15% profit per location per year.

 

As a barista, it's your job to do the same. Maximize efficiency.  Reduce costs.  Maximize profitability.

 

Starbucks is the behemoth in the business and you are fighting for the same dollar that they are.  It's not that customers don't like great coffee, they're afraid of bad coffee - and our shops are unknown entities in their minds.  They're worried that they're going to come in and have a bad experience at our shop than the average experience at Starbucks.  At least at Starbucks they know what they are going to receive.

 

It's your job to allay their fears and make them feel comfortable and welcome. Gosh, so many places look shabby, the baristas dress shabby - everything about the experience is shabby (including the service attitude) and then baristas wonder why the masses aren't flocking to try their coffee made by some sort of self-appointed barista god who is taking a few hours from his/her day to grace these unwashed masses with his/her coffee presence.

 

I'm lucky in that I have the opportunity to travel the world and travel the nation.  In the course of a year, I'll have the chance to visit many coffee shops.  Mostly, I'm unimpressed. Even (maybe even especially) by the "famous" coffee shops.  Usually, they're deficient somewhere.  Yes, the coffee may be lauded but they miss on showing respect for their customers.  Respect in providing them with a welcoming environment.  A clean environment that's not run down would also be nice.

 

But really, it's about that penny.  Every barista should know and execute in a manner that understands that we are fighting for every single penny in a desperate bid for survival.

Agreed!

Jay Caragay said:

What do I wish baristas understood?

 

That we are fighting for every penny in a desperate bid to survive.

 

Grind waste, milk waste, drink mistakes, product throwaways - it all kills our bottom line and our ability to continue as an operation.  Your job and livelihood depends on your ability to maximize profitability for the company.  Want a raise?  Then increase efficiency.

 

Two ounces of milk waste may be perfectly acceptable for a cappuccino at the World Barista Championship (where they don't care about how much money they are wasting), but you make 64 drinks with that amount of waste and you've just destroyed a gallon of milk.  And it's more than the $5.25 for the gallon, it's $48 in lost drink revenue because you've wasted that gallon.

 

Yes, I know you hate on Starbucks and that you keep harping about how their quality sucks, but you know what?  I don't care.  It's not germane.  Starbucks currently runs 18% labor and generates 55% of their revenue strictly from coffee drink sales.  Add to that, they're pulling 15% profit per location per year.

 

As a barista, it's your job to do the same. Maximize efficiency.  Reduce costs.  Maximize profitability.

 

Starbucks is the behemoth in the business and you are fighting for the same dollar that they are.  It's not that customers don't like great coffee, they're afraid of bad coffee - and our shops are unknown entities in their minds.  They're worried that they're going to come in and have a bad experience at our shop than the average experience at Starbucks.  At least at Starbucks they know what they are going to receive.

 

It's your job to allay their fears and make them feel comfortable and welcome. Gosh, so many places look shabby, the baristas dress shabby - everything about the experience is shabby (including the service attitude) and then baristas wonder why the masses aren't flocking to try their coffee made by some sort of self-appointed barista god who is taking a few hours from his/her day to grace these unwashed masses with his/her coffee presence.

 

I'm lucky in that I have the opportunity to travel the world and travel the nation.  In the course of a year, I'll have the chance to visit many coffee shops.  Mostly, I'm unimpressed. Even (maybe even especially) by the "famous" coffee shops.  Usually, they're deficient somewhere.  Yes, the coffee may be lauded but they miss on showing respect for their customers.  Respect in providing them with a welcoming environment.  A clean environment that's not run down would also be nice.

 

But really, it's about that penny.  Every barista should know and execute in a manner that understands that we are fighting for every single penny in a desperate bid for survival.

Three...really?!?   There are soooo many things I could put on here!

 

1.  Customer Service!!! They really don't always know how important this is!  We want...no NEED...to provide each and every customer with a positive customer every time! Particularly in an industry where we have compeditors on every corner.  They come for the coffee, they keep coming for the excellent service.

 

2.  Quality and Consistency! I put these two together because serving the best possible product will only take you as far a your consistency will allow.  I once heard a customer say a barista in my shop "Can Jen make my drink insted, she makes it how I like it?" UNACCEPTABLE!  Everyone should be making everything by the standard. And if that customer had a special request, of coarse we will accommodate!

 

3.  Good work does not go unnoticed (or unrewarded). There are so many ways to say this, but I know we all mean the same thing.  A good barista will go above and beyond "the list".  If something needs done, do it.  If something needs cleaned, clean it.  Take initiative. Don't expect a raise, show me that you deserve one.  Be an asset. Be creative. Tell me your ideas. Show me that this is more than just a job for you. Show me that you are as passionate about the business as I am.

 

Great discussion topic!

Hey Chris,

This is Dawn from Lucie Monroe's Coffee in Christiansburg VA

 

Good to see you, your dicussion board couldn't have been more timely. I am meeting with my team tonight at the Cellar for drinks and buisness and I am going to use your discussion board as an opener for our "Socratic Seminar" for the night. I will post our out come tomorrow.

 

GOSSIP...UGH!!!  That is the worst.  My shop if primarily girls (high school / college aged) and I have had to deal with this a lot in the past.  We also strongly enforce a no-gossip policy; I just don't tolerate it!  This is a job - a business; not high school! 


Jack Groot said:

We do not tolerate gossip and have a no-gossip policy in our handbook. You gossip once, you get written up. You gossip again, you go buh-bye.

Great post!

1.  everything costs money.  every gram of coffee costs 3-5+ cents or more. consider your waste and what it is costing the company. 

 

2.  be self motivated, take ownership- dont wait for someone to tell you what to do!

 

3.  don't suck up to the boss- your co-workers are who you need to win over the most.

 

 

(my first three, will post more later)

 

Owners/Managers need to set the example and model correct techniques. Model good work ethics, as Deferio put it...be the workhorse along with the crew, don't just bark the orders. Find time to work with your barista's, make time for training. As an owner I am right in there  scrubing the toilets.

I do not want a prima-dona barista. We all will clean the toilets and mop the floors not just the big shinny machine. You are a liability if you can't see past your own needs. I want workers in my shop to care for others more. If they have the heart for people and serving them, then they tend to do the extra things and go above and beyond the expected.

If you have barista's working for you who do not care, well it is hard to teach them that, (to care). Your best to let them go.

 

 

Great post! And very good points. 

Jay Caragay said:

What do I wish baristas understood?

 

That we are fighting for every penny in a desperate bid to survive.

 

Grind waste, milk waste, drink mistakes, product throwaways - it all kills our bottom line and our ability to continue as an operation.  Your job and livelihood depends on your ability to maximize profitability for the company.  Want a raise?  Then increase efficiency.

 

Two ounces of milk waste may be perfectly acceptable for a cappuccino at the World Barista Championship (where they don't care about how much money they are wasting), but you make 64 drinks with that amount of waste and you've just destroyed a gallon of milk.  And it's more than the $5.25 for the gallon, it's $48 in lost drink revenue because you've wasted that gallon.

 

Yes, I know you hate on Starbucks and that you keep harping about how their quality sucks, but you know what?  I don't care.  It's not germane.  Starbucks currently runs 18% labor and generates 55% of their revenue strictly from coffee drink sales.  Add to that, they're pulling 15% profit per location per year.

 

As a barista, it's your job to do the same. Maximize efficiency.  Reduce costs.  Maximize profitability.

 

Starbucks is the behemoth in the business and you are fighting for the same dollar that they are.  It's not that customers don't like great coffee, they're afraid of bad coffee - and our shops are unknown entities in their minds.  They're worried that they're going to come in and have a bad experience at our shop than the average experience at Starbucks.  At least at Starbucks they know what they are going to receive.

 

It's your job to allay their fears and make them feel comfortable and welcome. Gosh, so many places look shabby, the baristas dress shabby - everything about the experience is shabby (including the service attitude) and then baristas wonder why the masses aren't flocking to try their coffee made by some sort of self-appointed barista god who is taking a few hours from his/her day to grace these unwashed masses with his/her coffee presence.

 

I'm lucky in that I have the opportunity to travel the world and travel the nation.  In the course of a year, I'll have the chance to visit many coffee shops.  Mostly, I'm unimpressed. Even (maybe even especially) by the "famous" coffee shops.  Usually, they're deficient somewhere.  Yes, the coffee may be lauded but they miss on showing respect for their customers.  Respect in providing them with a welcoming environment.  A clean environment that's not run down would also be nice.

 

But really, it's about that penny.  Every barista should know and execute in a manner that understands that we are fighting for every single penny in a desperate bid for survival.

I don't think anyone is trying to find blame for staff who isn't living up to the expectations of the owners or even owners who aren't living up to the expectations of the staff.  If I may, Jack, you're speaking from a slightly different position than most on this website with nearly 20 years of success under your management.  Did you feel the same way 14 or 15 years ago?

Life is a struggle, business is a struggle, everything is a struggle: agreed.  I think the initial post was getting at something less philosophical and while not condoning griping I think Chris posted something important if for no other reason than to show that his thoughts are not unique among the managers and owners in this industry.

The three things I want from my staff: understanding, compassion, humour...There's more of course and there are a lot of specifics we could dwell on but I want warm human communicators to help me raise my kids and build my community.

Okay, I guess I fell into the philosophical trap, too.

great points Jack!

In fact I had intended to start a new thread for that very purpose.

See here....

 

http://www.baristaexchange.com/forum/topics/attention-all-bosses-and

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