I'm curious about folks' experiences with these training schools. How does it compare to the on-the-job training you get? (I gotta say, I've got a great resource at my shop!) Are they pricey, and worth the money? What school would you recommend, and how far have you traveled to attend one?

Let's discuss!

(I hope I'm not completely rehashing another discussion).

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Samantha....I think you have your answer...I'm a coffee shop/roaster owner and I too attended ABC and got out of it what i put into too it and more....there is no question you need something before, during and after to ensure your moving your skills, business or passion foward.
Ha! Dennis, just read this post. Sorry my friend. :)

Dennis McQuoid said:
ABC was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I haven't had a good espresso drink served to me at any local cafe since attending - and I try to visit a few every week. Ignorance truly is bliss. Matt spoiled me on day one with his creation of a traditional cappuccino.

My worst experience was with a large, local Hawaiian - based in Honolulu, roaster that has it's own coffee bar and offers tours. Without mentioning the name, I'm sure many of you can figure it out. Their coffee is served and sold in virtually every grocery store, drug store, and convenience store in Hawaii, not to mention several coffee shops. If they can't train their own employees properly, they certainly will not train you or your employees properly.

Here's the case:
I went into their cafe at 10:30 AM and it was empty. To be clear, it is an industrial area and not many people walking around during work shifts. I ordered a cappuccino as this is my standard. First thing I noticed when the young lady pulled the portofilter from the group head was that she did not wipe it off. Mistake 2 - the grinder doser had about two inches of ground coffee sitting inside (remember empty shop) so the ground coffee had been sitting for who knows how long - maybe two hours? Mistakes 3, 4 and 5 - she fills the portafilter, never tapping to settle the grounds, tamps once very lightly, and without wiping the loose grounds off, sticks the portafilter back into the grouphead, (mistake 6) without flushing out the grouphead. Of course the shot took about 7 seconds to completion. Mistake 7, 8, and 9 - she re-steamed milk that had been sitting I guess since the last customer, then added more milk, then re-steamed again (redundancy, I know). Mistake 10 - espresso is served in a "12 oz" take-out cup. Mistake 11 - she filled the cup to the brim with a mixture of over-steamed and under-steamed milk. Mistake 12 - she then served the drink to me.

The roaster's cafe made at least 12 mistakes making 1 cappuccino!

Obviously being a roaster, even a well known roaster does not mean they know how to make and serve drinks. This also brings into question the quality of the roast. Popular and good are not equal terms. I think getting professional training from a school like ABC offers a competitive advantage that really separates you from them.

One thing I found out, by questioning the servers (I would not call them baristas) that made my bad drinks, is that they don't care to learn. They had no idea about what beans were being served. They push a couple buttons, serve a few drinks, grab the paycheck and tips, and go home. That's poor management more than poor service.

So thanks a lot ABC, for taking away my bliss. But no doubt when I open my shop, I'll serve a much better drink than anyone else around here makes, and train my employees to learn more, and share their knowledge and passion with the customers. These are some of the values instilled at a professional school. How much is that worth?
Matt,
Thanks a million correctly pulled and poured cappuccinos for posting this experience. I will save this for training purposes.
I keep telling my customers who care that there are many ways to ruin an espresso drink or coffee drink. Just because you buy some of my hand crafted roasted coffee beans does not mean you will get a drink like I can provide you in my shop. I am so glad to say that I passed the test when I went through the 12 mistakes of Dennises experience.

Maybe you can market this Matt. Maybe call it the ABC 12 Step Program. If you take this Red 12 step pill / program of ABC School and pass by getting all 12 points right you will loose your bliss. The coffee world for you will never be the same. In some US City's you may walk for miles to find a well created cappuccino to write home about.
Most of us would love this option of your school and training you provide Matt.
Joe
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
If you are close to a counter culture training center then I suggest selling their coffee. Comes with free training in their training centers. Great deal.
I forgot a huge smiley......<];^)

Joseph Robertson said:
Matt,
Thanks a million correctly pulled and poured cappuccinos for posting this experience. I will save this for training purposes.
I keep telling my customers who care that there are many ways to ruin an espresso drink or coffee drink. Just because you buy some of my hand crafted roasted coffee beans does not mean you will get a drink like I can provide you in my shop. I am so glad to say that I passed the test when I went through the 12 mistakes of Dennises experience.

Maybe you can market this Matt. Maybe call it the ABC 12 Step Program. If you take this Red 12 step pill / program of ABC School and pass by getting all 12 points right you will loose your bliss. The coffee world for you will never be the same. In some US City's you may walk for miles to find a well created cappuccino to write home about.
Most of us would love this option of your school and training you provide Matt.
Joe
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Package deals are nice. I personally prefer not to be locked into a deal. I'm sure counter culture does not handcuff you so to speak.
This is the very reason I opted for a roasting school that does not sell coffee roasters. Most roasting "training centers" want you to buy there machines. To this day I only know of two coffee roaster training centers that are independent of selling machines. Not that there are not more today. It's been a few years since I researched that topic.
Hey I did not mean to hijack this thread.
I just wanted to make a point that Matt our host and ABC Braista School has no interest in anyone's beans in particular. His only interest is making sure the graduates of his school keep a consistency in skill and customer service. His focus is very clear. I myself have not had the opportunity yet to take any of his training. I'm still looking forward to it asap.
Joe

--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.

Greg Aliff said:
If you are close to a counter culture training center then I suggest selling their coffee. Comes with free training in their training centers. Great deal.
HI
Am also very much curious about them but i have a positive thinking that there is a degree of
proffessionalism they kind of install(sorry), in your character as a barista, whereby you can be trained to pay more attention to details than a person who has just had on job training, however, if your on job training is done by a barista who has gone through these schools,then its like you've gone through them.Therfore i think they worth the money 'coz you r trainned former champions more experienced baristas..............
No question about it.....
Joe

bukenya john paul said:
HI
Am also very much curious about them but i have a positive thinking that there is a degree of
proffessionalism they kind of install(sorry), in your character as a barista, whereby you can be trained to pay more attention to details than a person who has just had on job training, however, if your on job training is done by a barista who has gone through these schools,then its like you've gone through them.Therfore i think they worth the money 'coz you r trainned former champions more experienced baristas..............
I loved abc, it was definitley a lot of fun. Lot's of kickass equipment and the trainers were a blast to hang out with outside of class.

The 4 day barista course I would say is good for someone just starting out in the coffee world. I feel as though there could have been other advanced barista tips and tricks that could have been in the course but then again it is only 4 days.

I would reccomend this course to all baristas though, it's a lot of fun
I second ABC I did not attend however I have reviewed there course and have known them for years I cannot recommend them enough.
alison winston said:
I have always found on the job training is best. 3 weeks prior to opening a store I work every day with staff going over not only drink preparation but all of the things that build relationships with your customer

I'm a little confused here. Are you recommending on-the-job training in the traditional sense, where the new employee "apprentices" with a trainer during business hours while serving customers? Or are you recommending working with a dedicated in-store trainer prior to open? I suspect its the latter, since this is the service you offer as a consultant.

I would agree that there are benefits to training in the actual workspace, but every day for three weeks prior to open with a whole staff is rarely practical in the real world. It also doesn't help with existing stores.
What kind of stores are we talking? Chain? Starbucks? Not to be in anyway insulting because I don't know one store from another when it comes to training. I deal in day to day which has serious advantages in the sense of real time verses most likely or common scenario's. Now I must say I'm only seeing this topic from an owner/manager one small coffee business point of view here. Not from the business end of being a consultant / trainer. I'm am most interested though. Training will make or break a business.
Joe


Brady said:
alison winston said:
I have always found on the job training is best. 3 weeks prior to opening a store I work every day with staff going over not only drink preparation but all of the things that build relationships with your customer

I'm a little confused here. Are you recommending on-the-job training in the traditional sense, where the new employee "apprentices" with a trainer during business hours while serving customers? Or are you recommending working with a dedicated in-store trainer prior to open? I suspect its the latter, since this is the service you offer as a consultant.

I would agree that there are benefits to training in the actual workspace, but every day for three weeks prior to open with a whole staff is rarely practical in the real world. It also doesn't help with existing stores.

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