I manage a coffee kiosk on the Public Transit line in Portland, and am the barista trainer there and at two other shops that have the same owner, all serving Stumptown.
Every week, part of my job is to come up with a Barista Development Assignment for everyone to complete, and in doing it for several months now, I'm running out of ideas!
I've had them make drinks for each other and evaluate them, taste shots adjusting different variables, observe at other respected shops, read articles out of Barista Mag and online, taste obviously bad shots, post best rosetta that week. I can't get hands on with each person every week, and this enables us all to be on the same page in the direction we're taking our development.
We have some new hires, and I'd like fresh ways to assign and teach basic concepts. Ideas? Things that have worked well for you in training?
I like screwing up the grinder setting, and having people get it back to the correct grind as fast as they can. A cool idea that I got from folks around here (Brady, I think) is to taste shots at different intervals in the process (5 secs, 10, 15, 20, 25... etc.).
There are also a lot of cool things you can do with the brewed coffee side of things... 1 coffee brewed 3-7 ways (Chemex, Hario, French Press, Espresso, Vac Pot, Cold brew, etc.)... grind exercises... tons of different stuff.
I would actually love to sit down and chat with you (I'm at Portland Roasting, in (surprise) Portland) and shoot the breeze about different training ideas. Coffee training is my life, and I love meeting and talking to other trainers.
You could do a series of technical challenges. Collect all counter waste and measure... then set the bar at your neatest barista and have everyone shoot for that the following week. Something similar for milk waste. What about a shot time consistency - closest three shots in weight and time?
These are just random ideas - haven't personally used any of these with a crew.
Neat idea though.
Thanks! I like all of those ideas- an additional challenge I have is that these assignments are written assignments, that need to not require me to be there- they go up on our communication blog, and people give written responses to the assignments based on their hands-on work that week.
Nathaniel- that'd be great! I'll send you a message so we can talk more!
I don't know if this really falls under "Barista Training" but I always like for my trainees to sample different pastries with different espresso drinks so they are better able to cross-sell other products ... but I really don't think of it as cross-selling personally, I like to think of it as creating a complete sensory experience for the customer.
A wet Capp and an Almond Biscotti are delicious together ... or a Madeleine and a Mocha, things like that.