So a woman came into the shop that I manage today to drop off her resume, and to get some face time with me. And while we were talking she made it a point to let me know that she had 13 years of experience in the "coffee biz", and that she was a former manager at a Starbucks. I have always been of the opinion that it is easier to start with a person that has no previous experience or training, so that I can teach them the way I like things done in my shop. Does anyone out there have any experience with former starbucks employees in their shop.
What I have found is that the most important factor is the person themselves. When training an experienced Barista, I always start out with this pre-amble:
"Since you already have a lot of experience as a Barista, this process can go either of two ways. 1) You are familiar enough with the equipment, and skilled enough in the craft to be able to incorporate new and improved techniques into your repertoire, and the training will be fast and fun. 2) You believe that you know what you need to know already, and you will resist learning, even if it can make you a better Barista. So how are we gonna do this, the easy way, or the hard way?"
If you have a Barista who feels like they are at the top of their game, you have the potential for eternal subordination. If they feel like there is always room for growth, and welcome the opportunity to learn and experiment with new techniques, give that Barista a raise.
Starbucks employees I have worked with typically think they are really good baristas... especially if they worked with the company for a really long time. We all know that Starbucks baristas are really just button pushers with a knowledge of where and how coffee is grown, so if you're going to hire one i'd just suggest as Phil has already stated. They need to check their attitude at the door and be willing to learn.
A few of the Starbucks baristas I've worked with in the past have seemed to be stubborn in getting out of the ways they were trained to do things. I used to always hear, "well at Starbucks we did it this way" and my reply would be, "well, you're not at Starbucks anymore and this is the way we do things here." The majority of those with that type of attitude didn't last very long. But you may be able to find a good candidate if they are willing to get into the mindset that they are no longer employed at Starbucks, so they should take the experience that they have gained from there, and continue to grow somewhere else. It all depends on the person. I like what Phil had to say!
Do you want to hire her as a manager or a barista? Personally, I never hire anyone without throwing them on bar and making a cappuccino. I take into consideration that they will be nervous and are on strange equipment. Most 'buckians don't do very well, though the occasional one does. Don't be so close minded about where they came from, that is the same thing as discrimination. Make a thoughtful, fair judgment based on criteria that doesn't change from interview to interview, especially as you are in California. You are right in assuming that old habits are hard to change though. If she thinks she can make great coffee but can't, then I wouldn't bother. If on the other hand she seems willing to learn, then she might be worth giving a chance.
I understand Phil's point, but I wouldn't hire a barista in the first who was resistant to learning new things. We should all be open to learning new things.
That being said, Starbucks has a great manager training program, much better than you would expect. If her barista skills are good enough or you think you can train her quickly and well enough, then consider her management experience and training. Good luck.
I have trained former Starbucks employees and they start off acting like they know everything about coffee. When we had a heavy customer flow, they were intimidated and complained about the equipment. Most quit on the first day. Some former Peets employees are the same way.
i manage a shop that employs a lot of college students... many of which come in with the same background, "i have plenty of experience with coffee, i worked at starbucks."
in all honesty, it comes down to the person. i've found that its pretty evenly split, as to how simple/difficult it can be to train(or retrain 'buck-ristas')
i would recommend looking at them like an average joe. if they seem to have a genuine desire to LEARN then you are in great shape, and it may work to your favor because there is at least SOME degree of knowledge when it comes to the bean. but if they carry the "high nose" mentality that is very easy to spot, i say drop 'em like its hot.
hope it works out for you ;-)
It really depends on the applicant if their time at Starbucks instilled a passion for coffee and they are eager to expand upon their existing base of knowledge. I had a girl that quickly became a shift manager for us, it's all about attitude.
No one knows everything there is to know about coffee. Even the folks at coffeed argue over the science behind the bean. If she's enthusiastic and recognizes that she has an opportunity to learn and grow as a barista at your shop, then I'd hire her. If she thinks she knows everything and is adamant about her technique, I'd wait for someone else.
The first rule of thumb and statement I make when training an employee that boasts "some, or tons" of experience/training elsewhere is: "forget everything you've ever learned!" I also look amongst and glean my regular customers as fabulous future employees because they love coffee and have already chosen our establishment to be the best. My motto is: I can train anyone to clean and make good coffee - but I can't teach over-the-top customer service to someone that doesn't have the attitude. Hold out for personal charm. The best business compliment I ever receive is that from customers congratulating me on hiring a terrific employee.
I've had similar experiences with stubborn individuals with a little coffee experience wanting to do things their own way or wanting to do things the way they used to do it at another place. I don't recommend hiring people with a little coffee knowledge and lot's of experience.
Starbucks or not, I think the most important thing is to vet the candidate out thoroughly. Quite frankly, I don't care if an applicant has had 13 years experience at Starbucks or Stumptown, what matters is our program and the question is if the candidate will conform to our program. If they can't or won't, I don't think they would pass the vetting stage.
That said, I've hired and trained baristas from all sorts of backgrounds. One was even a Starbucks trainer - and another worked for me and worked at a Starbucks simultaneously.
The key is finding people who a) have an innate understanding of hospitality, and b) can adapt to our methods. If they cannot adapt, they just won't make it through our training phase.
I was once a starbucks coffeejocky, something I noticed about people working there was that they either a. Were brainwashed and thought Starbucks were the be-all and end-all in the coffee industry, b. didn't really care - its just a job, or c. recognized that there is always more to learn.
a. & b. are people you can ignore. I guess I was a mixture of b. and c. - I applied to Starbucks because nobody else was willing to take me with no experience, but I was well aware of what was attainable as a Barista, jumping ship at first opportunity (Shortly after, the starbucks I worked at was the first of about 90% of Australian Starbucks stores to close - I brought that place to its knees baby), getting a job working with some of the best in the industry.
Essentially, I'm only saying that a starbucks employee can be good, but not always. Take note of their passion - is it passion for coffee or passion for starbucks? Listen to the words they use, whether they make coffee at home - what do they use? What beans do they use at home? Do they want to be a barista or a manager (as far as I'm concerned if you want to be working in a cafe you should want to be a barista, if not, go get a job elsewhere).
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