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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That reminds me of watching a young lady proudly crack open her can of precious Illy espresso for a regional competition a few years back, I'm sure she believed she had the others whipped with her gourmet imported coffee, when all they had was inferior fresh locally roasted stuff in paper bags. ;)

Wilson Hines said:
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 don't mean to hijack this with "stories from the dark side" but my wifey's mother was having back surgery this past week in Raleigh at Rex Hospital.

She went to the cafe and there was a lady pulling shots there with a green apron with a $B logo on it and a two group La Marzocco and a Mazzer Jolly. Starbucks bags all over the place and all sorts of paraphernalia.

I asked, "How was the coffee." She said, "NOTHING at all like what we do, of course. But, better than any $B I have ever been too.
Like Al hiring practices. I personally strongly disagree with the old, "Jump on the machine and make me a drink," mentality at interviews. It gives permission for the candidate to actually try THEIR "bad habits and poor training" behind YOUR bar. Interview the person to see if they're a fit, not the barista to see if their worth their salt.
After choosing a person, don't give anyone preferential treatment because they have a couple coffee joints on their resume. That's pretty easy for me to say, as I don't run the place, but as a trainer, you should train everyone to your standards and do it assuming a clean slate. If a former employee from Starbucks, Peet's, Vivace, Stumptown or IBM has a problem with running register for 6 weeks before pulling shifts on the machine, they can go somewhere else for a job. I would think that would put everyone on an even field as far as standards and practices go and instill a credibility to the position. If you take training seriously, they will most likely take working seriously.

That should be worth $.02.
i worked at Starbucks as a shift supervisor during college in 04-05 - it was not a pleasant experience. i had previously worked for two years at a local coffeeshop, quitting before college in 02. i needed the cash, but found the store and district managers (with the exception of my wonderful initial manager who lasted about 3 months) absolutely intolerable. we're talking just evil and deceptive people. most of my co-workers were ex-Mcdonalds or Blockbuster chain employees who had given up on their dreams in life and needed a job to get by. i was just a college kid, but eventually had to quit due to the stress of getting up at 430 on class days and working eight hour shifts for a measly $6.75 an hour. in 06 i experienced coffee salvation in the form of a great local coffeehouse, who hired me and retrained me properly. then in 07 i had the honor of working for Rob Forsyth (then-president of AASCA and current WBC rules committee chairman) in Sydney and really learning how to make great espresso. the only thing that allowed me to survive was my willingness to be flexible and learn.

by way of example, my current job is basically barista/trainer at a local coffeehouse run by a friend (until mid-july when i start renovations on my leased space). there is a guy there who knew nothing about espresso and seemed to have no interest. but when i showed him a video on youtube of scottie callaghan pouring triple rosettas, something shifted in his mentality and now he's well on his way to being the most conscientious barista in the shop. so give people a chance.

to summarize, what people have previously said about hiring ex-Starbucks employees is correct. if they're flexible and realize that Starbucks has a very long ways to go in terms of world-class espresso, then it might be a good hire. if they think Starbucks (or any other form of disreputable coffee) is the end-all, then ditch em like a bad habit.

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