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.

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I have had a few ex-starbucks folk and I am of the same of opinion as you to prefer to start with a clean slate. I have had equally mixed results with ex-starbucks but there have been two consistent themes with them and I am a little surprised by them: 1. very surprisingly, their customer service has been somewhat weaker 2. their work ethic is excellent.

Obviously, their bar skills are limited at best and they prioritize speed over quality so you have to try and train that out of them...

good luck
Since you seem to have gotten several very good answers to your question, I feel ok about derailing this thread slightly.

I read a snippet the other day in a soon-to-open local indie's "about us" section that one of the owners hired on at Starbucks for a few months so that she could learn how to run a coffee shop.

Needless to say, I am not optimistic about said shop...
Here's something to consider about people in management at corporate establishments... They (the one's who've persevered in that type of setting anyway) can track sales, order just enough (keeping money in the bank drawing interest instead of collecting dust on the shelves waiting to make it to the retail stands,) they can track waste and make sure they are within acceptable range , can make the customer feel appreciated and coming back for more even with an inferior product... and they all have had middle management types watching every business move they've made while looking to get rid of them and replace them with someone who will start at a lower rate (I believe the average is actually some where around two years of management.)

Someone like that can be an asset because they've had a business education second to none. That said I absolutely agree with Jay and Javaj. Are they a good fit to your program? Are they willing to shuck their egos and start over under your shops rules? (The same could and should be asked of every barista you hire regardless of their coffee backgrounds...from cafina to mistral.)



echoing others ,
good luck.
Nick Cho of murky coffee fame worked at Starbucks to learn the ropes...
I worked at Starbucks for 3 years, and without that experience, I never would have gotten into coffee the way I have. It has, however, made it difficult (if not impossible) to find a job at a decent shop. I'm forced to work at a cafe that doesn't share the same passion I have, because no one else has any interest in hiring me. Just to give you the other side of this issue: being tossed aside based on my experience with Starbucks (which was positive and educational) really sucks. This person should be considered in the same way you would consider anyone else.
Working at a Charbucks to learn how to run a coffee shop isn't necessarily the same thing as learning how to make exceptional espresso beverages. They seem to do a lot of business related things right. Agree each person should be weighed on their personal merits. Willingness to learn, passion for coffee and attitude paramount. One of my best barista started his coffee career at Charbucks.
see posting on irksome things at work
In this job climate and if your hiring I would find it hard to turn someone away because they worked at $B or anywhere else in coffee. I would almost find it impassionate.

That being said, your there to run a business.

I would sit 'em down for some brew the way you do it and say "This isn't like anything you have ever seen. This is about as different as working at Golden Coral and then upping it to "The Regis" (a Knoxville suit and tie joint). Flipp'n steak at GC isn't flipp'n steak at The Regis. If they were willing to throw the "When I was at $B we did it this way" out the window, I would hire 'em!

And I say this from the standpoint of their managerial experience. That is worth something. And also, if they love coffee, and I know some $B employees who are as Nazi as you and I, that is a big bonus. The love for the coffee should over shadow the learning.
Interesting, after reviewing all the replies, that noone referred to a written test? Prior to the first meeting with the applicant, it's a good idea to review your hiring process. If you map out the preliminary interview, followed by a written element, followed by a run through on the equipment, you've got both a better idea of who you're considering, and with the written test, documentation for backing up your "non-hires", should they get weird on you and talk about your hiring practices. (it happens) While I'm hearing allot of "after the fact" issues with new employees that were boastful and bragging, I haven't heard details about your hiring processes? The written test, by the way, doesn't have to be intimidating. You can include open-ended questions regarding coffee, from origin to cup. I'm never surprised to find out that a self-proclaimed barista visualizes roasted coffee being shipped from Brasil to the States. I can't tell you how many machine operators I've talked to, can't recite their own guidelines for the brewing of espresso. Most can't name one international coffee organization, and most can't recite the basic starting settings on an espresso machine regarding brewing temperature, pressure in bars, average extraction times, what is crema, etc. You guys, as you many know, are in a very rarified group.

Bottom line........ if you administer both a written and practical, and they score below 50, 40, and probably 30% on the written, you've got documentation to humble them for retraining, assuming they show eagerness to learn and you see them as a prime candidate. I'd be less concerned about their past employer, and look more at how they do in the interview and the tests. Anyone that falls back on "how we did it before..." would have issues no matter from what field they came. That's more a sign of insecurity, not knowledge.
I have seen it go both ways.

On one hand, I have seen former Starbucks employees hungry to delve more into the world of coffee and really strive to prove themselves.

On the other hand I've also seen what others have mentioned where a person is resistant to learning a new way. The biggest problem I've seen from hiring previous Starbucks employees is a lack of quality control. They are used to things being automated to the point that they are lazy behind equipment where you have to be in charge.

Again though, each person takes their experience with the Green Mermaid differently. There are some who go on to do great things, many of whom you would never know worked there. (TX-Coffee comes to mind...)
One $B person comes to mind specifically to me. There was a young lady that went to the 2007 SERBC from Texas, if I remember right. That event was in Clearwater, FL so that was a treck! She wore her green apron and pulled $B espresso. From what I understand, she didn't fare well because of sensory issues (poor, stale espresso is my guess), but the point is she was passionate, about 800 to 1000 miles of passionate.

I would hire that young lady in a heart beat. IMHO.


James Doyle said:
I have seen it go both ways.
On one hand, I have seen former Starbucks employees hungry to delve more into the world of coffee and really strive to prove themselves.
On the other hand I've also seen what others have mentioned where a person is resistant to learning a new way. The biggest problem I've seen from hiring previous Starbucks employees is a lack of quality control. They are used to things being automated to the point that they are lazy behind equipment where you have to be in charge.

Again though, each person takes their experience with the Green Mermaid differently. There are some who go on to do great things, many of whom you would never know worked there. (TX-Coffee comes to mind...)
I have an ex- *bucks employee onboard, whom despite seeming promising and willing to re learn in the beginning constantly slips back into old habits when not under constant supervision. Techniques and practices which have been drilled in die hard. I have tried to hide spoons, but she will always find another implement to hold back and pour her evil mermaidish sea foam. I hear the grinder running far too long, and the pump far too short, but alas cannot steer this wonky ship back on course. As this is not my business, she stays for now but if it was up to me she would have been long gone. Incidentely, this so called "Barista trainer", was previously interviewed for a barista position in my friends cafe and failed miserably on the "make a coffee" part. The fact that NZ Starbucks still use traditional equipment, LM's and Mazzer's should be a major advantage but I often wonder about the abuse this equipment must suffer in the hands of some of these people.

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