Hello all,

I am a long time coffee fan/snob/barista. I started working at a local coffee shop when I was fourteen years old. After working there for 4 years, it closed down and naturally sought to work for another coffee shop in the local arena. As fate had it, Starbucks hired me. I slaved at Starbucks semi grudgingly for 6 years. Finally, I am done with Starbucks and ready to pursue my own coffee venture. I know how to make great coffee, work hard, extract a superb cup of coffee, etc. However, I am quite the novice (I feel) when it comes to knowing all the specific ins and outs of the more "refined" coffee world. An example would be roasting, (which I am about to begin learning how to). Anyway, I desire to invest in necessary equipment to perfect my craft, make a little money, and to train others how to as well. If you have any helpful tips, any wisdom you'd be happy to share, or any suggestions; I am listening!

Thank you!

-Stephan David W.

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Honestly I've visited this post a couple times and wasn't going to reply. However changed my mind.

 

You say you make great, suberb coffee. And are ready to train others as well. Based on what? Have you competed in or even attend Barista Competitions or Brewers Cups? How about local throw downs etc.? How you even visited any Coffeehouses that do make truly world class coffee beverages? 6 years at Charbucks means absolutely nothing when it comes to coffee quality except how bad it can be.

 

My advice check your ego at the door and become teachable. Spend a few years working at a real quality focused shop before even thinking you've got what it takes to teach coffee greatness.

I'm going to completely agree with Mike's advice here, though I'll take a slightly different tone.

Your very first priority ought to be figuring out what you really do know and what you really don't. For now, assume that you know nothing. Sounds harsh, but the reality is that much of what many people "know" about coffee is wrong... and the longer you've been in the business the more potential there is for you to be wrong! Make everything you "know" prove itself true before you let it back in. This is hard to do and takes work. Listen, read, observe, and taste, taste, taste (coffee is fundamentally about coffee after all). Only after you get a real sense for what is actually happening right now in the world of coffee can you truly understand where you stand.

Go to every cafe, coffee event, barista get-together, cupping, and training opportunity that you can. Roasters, cafes and coffee organizations work hard to teach people and get people excited about coffee, and you absolutely should take every advantage of this. Organizations like The SCAA, BGA, Barista Nation, Coffeeworks, hold events all over the country too - check out their calendars to see what's coming and then go!

Regional and national events run off of the efforts of volunteers. In addition to taking classes, demonstrate that work ethic by helping out - even though that probably means working as a porter, dishwasher, station runner, whatever. This will help you get a sense for the skillset required to teach and help you develop some good contacts too.

Training others requires not only a good understanding of the subject matter, but knowing how adults do and don't learn. The SCAA has a great course to help people begin to learn this - the IDP. I personally found it to be mind-blowing and very humbling to realize how much there was to know (and how little I did know). Look for opportunities to take this.

On the roasting front - check out sites like Sweet Maria's, HomeBarista, etc and try some of the lo-tech hands-on methods. Roast, cup, take notes, tweak, repeat.

Don't worry too much about equipment right now. Get a good home grinder, a solid home brewing setup, and whatever bits and pieces you need to roast. Your palate and brain should be your focus, so save your money for travel and beans.

Hope that helps.

Yup, I can be a curmudgeon at times, my bad!  

Brady said:

I'm going to completely agree with Mike's advice here, though I'll take a slightly different tone.

 

Hey, this is no industry for people with thin skins and your point was well made.

Mike McGinness said:

Yup, I can be a curmudgeon at times, my bad!  

Brady said:

I'm going to completely agree with Mike's advice here, though I'll take a slightly different tone.

 

Thank you dearly for the advice. I take it with great respect and admonition. While I'm sure the "Charbucks" experience doesn't credit me in a "high quality" coffee world, it gives me a great perspective into the mind of beginner coffee lovers along with to be coffee lovers. I agree that years gleaning from the heart of a down-to-earth, cream of the crop coffee shop whom take great pride in what they do; I have already done so, and am currently doing so. Just looking for advice, wisdom, and encouragement. My intention wasn't to seem prideful. So I am sorry if that was te impression you received. Thank you Brady for the advice. I will do all I can!

Here's the thing, you don't know what you don't know until you know it and then you really know you don't know. You say you started at and are now back at a cream of the crop coffeeshop situation. Personally I've worked with a number of church coffeehouses and have yet to see one operating at the levels I'm speaking of which in fact do include my coffeehouses. The idea that Charbucks is an introduction to quality coffee is a misguided idea. They are great at customer service and marketing, great at atmosphere, and great at serving milk and sugar to cover up burnt stale coffee. From the first Charbucks to hit our County many years ago I knew thay had nothing to do with good coffee. Some think Charbucks is responsible for the growth of Specialty Coffee. I am not one of them but rather believe they are more responsible for misinformation and brain washing the masses into thinking bad coffee with lots of milk and sugar is Coffee as Culinary.

 

Get out there and experience what Coffee as Culinary truly is and can be. And maybe you have, but nothing in your bio or posts suggests it to me.

Oops. Meant to say Coffee Fest. Coffeeworks is a roaster here in Charlotte. Sorry guys.

Brady said:

...Organizations like The SCAA, BGA, Barista Nation, Coffeeworks, hold events all over the country too - check out their calendars to see what's coming and then go!

<snip>

Well, if they're a high quality roaster could be a place to visit too!

Brady said:

Oops. Meant to say Coffee Fest. Coffeeworks is a roaster here in Charlotte. Sorry guys.

Brady said:

...Organizations like The SCAA, BGA, Barista Nation, Coffeeworks, hold events all over the country too - check out their calendars to see what's coming and then go!

<snip>

I love you guys you tell it the way it is and don't hold back.

I haven't updated my bio. So it is definitely an inaccurate source of judgement. 

Here is an example of a coffee shop I've actually worked for: My friend, (Seth Lenz) owns this neat little shop in a small town called Little Chute in Wisconsin. Check him out. Certainly not a "BIG CITY" or "politically correct" type coffee shop-but nonetheless a top notch coffee joint in my eyes. 

http://www.sethscoffee.com/

Indeed a coffeeshop I'd love to visit, BUT, You expect us to be mind readers?! Your bio and posts where all the sources of information you gave. Asking for feedback without first giving accurate information is a bit lame and frankly a waste of my time. I took the time to read your bio AND every post you made on BX BEFORE my first reply.

 

Here is a piece of Wisdom: respect other people's time if you expect to be respected.

I didn't say I did not respect your time, sir. Yesterday was the first time I've been to this site in awhile. I was sort of excited and didn't bother to think anyone would first study my profile before answering straightforward questions. A little grace would be appreciated. Perhaps I am reading into your tone wrong but it seems as though you feel I am disrespectful, warranting a snarky context in your replys. I am being polite, I think. And my questions in this post are legitimate. So, I hope your request for respect is reciprocal. I'm not one to disrespect.

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