I've just finished writing a rough draft of the espresso training manual for the new cafe I am working at. We just opened two weeks ago and I was brought in for my barista knowledge to train the new baristas. Anyone willing to proof read and give advice would be greatly appreciated. It is the first time I've had to sit down and write an espresso training manual. My goal is to have a detailed but not to weighty guide for new baristas. Something that as a trainer you would sit down with them and go over the basics of steaming, dosing, tamping and pulling then head to the machine to for the hands on experience. I've attached the .docx file to this discussion for your perusing pleasure.

Constructive criticism is very welcome.

Thanks in advance for you help.
Justin
Barista@Large

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Write "cappuccino" with two "c". If you want to look cool, write it in plural as "cappuccini".

Would have been nice if you shared it on WikiBooks. There is already a bartending manual. Why not a barista manual?
Good start. A few things I would change:
-I would put the espresso section first. This is just my personal preference, as espresso is the foundation of cafe drinks.
-I didn't notice anything about brewing ratios/amount of coffee used for espresso/etc. To me, this is uber important.

and then there's a few things I don't personally agree with, i.e. resteaming milk, but if your company is down with it, I say go ahead.
Overall, for a rough draft, this is a good start. If you wanna take a look at the manual I just finished, I can email it your way.
I was trained about 8 months ago so I can remember far enough back to remember what helped me most. your best section is the steaming section I think. It's hardest to describe what to do to prevent a bad shot, I think, because there's so many little things that could go wrong, but you do a pretty good job. It just takes practice! You might want to include a little blurb about not getting frustrated- no one can do this stuff without practice, and anyone CAN do it if they practice :).

As far as formatting I would agree that the espresso should go first. Good start!
Benza, thanks for the advice. I put the milk steaming section first as I find people seem to have the most trouble with that and it's the first thing I have them do when making a drink (until they get more comfortable and can start multi-tasking). I don't have ratios in their, instead I teach by look and feel. There is a recessed rim inside the filter that when you have the right amount of grinds and the right tamp is only barely visible, hence not teaching ratios, I save that for the next step up in training so they don't get to much going on in there head at once. I'm training people who have never touched an espresso machine (and some who have never tied an espresso drink) which is why I am trying to keep things as simple as possible for the 101 class.

I would love to take a look at your manual, like I said this is the first time I've had to write my own and I am more than open to suggestions and help. (:

Some of the Technical stuff:
We use a 19 gram filter which is what our coffee supplier has found works best for brewing a double shot with the machine and coffee that we are using. We're using a two group Nuova Simonelli Aurelia machine and CrimsonCups Armando's Blend for the espresso. We brew the espresso at 9 bars and I'm teaching a 20-25 lbs. tamp which with the grind and machine works well with the 23-27 pull time with little to no blonding.


Benza Lance said:
Good start. A few things I would change:
-I would put the espresso section first. This is just my personal preference, as espresso is the foundation of cafe drinks.
-I didn't notice anything about brewing ratios/amount of coffee used for espresso/etc. To me, this is uber important.

and then there's a few things I don't personally agree with, i.e. resteaming milk, but if your company is down with it, I say go ahead.
Overall, for a rough draft, this is a good start. If you wanna take a look at the manual I just finished, I can email it your way.
Valentin, thanks I still need to go through and do some spell checking (: Maybe once I'm done with most of the editing I can put the manual up on WikiBooks, thanks for the suggestion.

Valentin David said:
Write "cappuccino" with two "c". If you want to look cool, write it in plural as "cappuccini".

Would have been nice if you shared it on WikiBooks. There is already a bartending manual. Why not a barista manual?
Justin,
This is why I shouldn't be reading stuff early in the morning. I didn't realize that this was a "barista 101". I understand the reasoning for not having the technical stuff in there, but I've found that my barista's tend to reference the training manual quite a bit, even after they're on bar. I wouldn't say that the technical aspect, as far as how many grams, etc, is too much info; on the contrary, I find its absolutely essential. But to each his own.
Good show so far. If you need any other pointers just lemme know.
btw, those aurelia's are f'in sweet, aren't they?
I'm going to say no to re-steaming milk. It's like trying to re-bake a cake, it just can't be done. If the barista is using the right pitcher then there would be no reason to re-steam milk in the first place.
Maggie, thanks (: It's a good suggestion to help people know they will make mistakes but not to get frustrated. I share a lot of my trials and tribulations from when I was first trained and of course the goofball mistakes I still make. I also bring over my t'ai chi philosophy which states often we can learn a lot from our students if we listen to them, after all we are all students still. I also let them know that it's okay to get frustrated but to not let the customer see it as they will begin to get frustrated as well. It's like Madonna, Madonna, Madonna, but you keep it all inside - to quote the English version of The Bird Cage.

Maggie Cook said:
I was trained about 8 months ago so I can remember far enough back to remember what helped me most. your best section is the steaming section I think. It's hardest to describe what to do to prevent a bad shot, I think, because there's so many little things that could go wrong, but you do a pretty good job. It just takes practice! You might want to include a little blurb about not getting frustrated- no one can do this stuff without practice, and anyone CAN do it if they practice :).

As far as formatting I would agree that the espresso should go first. Good start!
Benza, thanks again. I'm taking everyone's advice and will be referencing it as I go back to editing. I personally like the technical info as well and really geek out on it. I'm going to have to go back and work it in somehow as I think it will help the new baristas feel more pride in what they are doing. I'll send you a private message with my e-mail address so you can e-mail me your manual.

I do love the Aurelias, they're fine work horses and easy to maintain.

Benza Lance said:
Justin,
This is why I shouldn't be reading stuff early in the morning. I didn't realize that this was a "barista 101". I understand the reasoning for not having the technical stuff in there, but I've found that my barista's tend to reference the training manual quite a bit, even after they're on bar. I wouldn't say that the technical aspect, as far as how many grams, etc, is too much info; on the contrary, I find its absolutely essential. But to each his own.
Good show so far. If you need any other pointers just lemme know.
Hi Justin,

Looks like a good start. I do have some suggestions:

1. Agree totally with the espresso-comes-first thoughts.

Milk Section.
2. Also agree with the don't re-steam milk thoughts... if you must, you should at least point out that it will not taste as good.
3. In your steaming milk portion, you clearly copied and pasted the entire latte section to create the cappuccino section. This probably isn't necessary... you could get the message across by only emphasizing the differences. If you feel you must restate the whole thing, you could probably streamline it a lot.
4. Jets of steam are painful, and jets of water embarrassing... might be worth covering the part about wrapping the damp milk rag around the tip to prevent accidents.
5. Landmarks are really useful in terms of milk fill. Referencing the bottom of the spout or other distinguishing features is really helpful for people to know how far to fill and how much air to incorporate... its alot easier to visualize than saying "a little foam" or "doubled in size".
6. As far as incorporating air in, you moving the pitcher, not the wand. People can have a hard time at first internalizing that they need to move up (the pitcher) to move down (the tip). Consider rephrasing your directions to remove this confusion - from "...pull the head of the steam wand slightly out of the milk... " to "...lower the pitcher until the head of the steam wand is closer to the surface of the milk..." or something like that.
Espresso section:
7. The idea that an espresso shot will go "bad" in 25 seconds isn't really valid. I know you want them moving efficiently, but lets not perpetuate the myth.
8. Speaking of myths... while crema is certainly the hallmark of most well-made espresso, it is not where all the flavor is, so lets kill that one too...
9. You should probably clarify how many "taps" to settle the ground espresso to reduce dosing variability. 1 vs 5 makes a HUGE difference.
10. Speaking of variability... this seems like kind of an unusual way to dose and level. I see nothing that helps them learn exactly how much to use. I'd be concerned about consistency as compared to the more common "fill and level" approach.
11. Don't forget to flush the grouphead before loading the portafilter.
12. Don't forget to dry the basket before dosing.
13. Don't forget to knock out the puck and do a post-pull flush.

Overall:
14. You should probably add a section that briefly defines your drinks... some people don't know or have conflicting definitions.
15. You might want to add smell and more taste attributes to your shot quality definition... to encourage them to taste and smell their shots in addition to looking at them.

Again, a great start. Lots of great tips here. Good luck!
You may also want to add a section on cleaning your grinders. Helps out shot consistency fa sheezy.

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