If you were a person with no skills and was trying to break into the barista world. What would you do? I have applied at several places and all of them wanted someone with experience. I even went into a couple of places and talked with the owner because they had a position available but they shot me down because I had no experience. Do you think it would be wise to talk some sort of training? Or do you think it would be a waste of my time and that I should keep putting out applications? Any thought for someone is loves coffee.

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As in any field or profession getting a good education is the best start. Spend some money. Depending on where you are, you can go to a real coffee school. The Pacific Northwest has Bellisimo's The ABC school, excellent overall training! (I went there myself) . The mid west has Jack Groot's Mid West Barista School. Jack owns a cafe and has a great program and is very well respected.

Hope this helps!
I might have to disagree with Ed here. As an owner, and even when in a management position, I know the first thing I always look for is a true interest in coffee and a passion to learn. If a place would rather have someone who knows how to stand behind a counter and serve drip coffee, than someone who has an actual interest in coffee and becoming a great barista, then that probably isn't the place for you anyway.

I would say before you spend a bunch of money going to a school, apply at a few more places and focus the attention of the interview on your interest in coffee, make sure they know you aren't just out looking for a lax coffee shop job. Though all these schools are great places to learn, and do an awesome job, not every place you are going to apply to know who they are. Some places may see that on an application and think "Oh this person is gonna try to get on bar right away, or tell us we should be doing things their way." In many respects it's easier to hire a blank canvas.

That being said, once you have a job, and the trust and respect of the owner/management, these school are a great tool for rebuilding solid barista foundations, and expanding your barista skills. It would be a great way to learn the skills necessary to move forward as a barista, in your eventual place of employment, and in the industry.

Keep us updated on what happens!!

BTW, where are you?
I agree with Ed. Experience isn't necessarily as important as a passion for coffee and a good attitude. Great technical barista skills with poor attitude won't cut it, skills are teachable. Keep dropping in shops you like. Hang around observing and learning and chatting. Don't be a pest, but be a pest if you know what I mean! Develop relationships.

Since I believe you're in the Seattle area make sure you attend the NW Regional Barista Competition coming up in two weeks. Hang out for the whole three days. Meet people, watch the competitors. Develop relationships...
Yeah, passion is for sure key ... but if no one will hire you because you have experience then you can have all the passion in the world and it won't mean jack. Find a barista school somewhere near you and take some classes. Also, read up on CoffeeGeek.com. There's heaps of good information and tutorials. Hang in there! If you love coffee, you'll find a way to break into the business.
Totally agree with Mike, NWRBC would be immensely helpful for you. The amount you can learn if you are really paying attention is ridiculous. Also the barista community is huge, but at the same time small, if you know what I mean. Especially within regions, a lot of the baristas (and even more so with the communities surrounding regional events such as competitions and jams) know each other. Becoming part of this community is probably the most valuable asset you can attain for yourself. Go to NWRBC, meet people, party with people, learn everything you can, and above all maintain your passion for coffee. The community connections you can make there are worth way than technical skill.

Oh and have fun.

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
I agree with Ed. Experience isn't necessarily as important as a passion for coffee and a good attitude. Great technical barista skills with poor attitude won't cut it, skills are teachable. Keep dropping in shops you like. Hang around observing and learning and chatting. Don't be a pest, but be a pest if you know what I mean! Develop relationships.

Since I believe you're in the Seattle area make sure you attend the NW Regional Barista Competition coming up in two weeks. Hang out for the whole three days. Meet people, watch the competitors. Develop relationships...
Baristas don't make enough money for dropping cash on coffee school to make sense to me... But I totally agree with Andy and Mike, go to NWRBC - Coffee is a relatively small industry, and who you know can often be just as important as what you know.
miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
I agree with Ed.

Oops, meant I agree with Andy...
I generally don't hire someone with experience, unless I know the place they previously worked has a solid training program. It's so annoying to have to de-program a robot barista.

That being said, I think it depends on what type of place you are trying to get into, honestly. Where are you and what are the shops you are looking at? The reason I ask is this: If I were to look down and see that you had no experience, but had attended the ABC Coffee School, I would hire you then and there. If I was a giant chain, I probably wouldn't give a rat's @$$ about some coffee school I had never heard of.

The next time you apply for a job at a shop, ask them when their next public cupping or educational seminar or whatever is coming up. Stress you interest to learn about the aspects of the coffee world that you don't yet understand. You'll turn heads.

If you have the funds and are planning on applying at the right places, a school is a great idea. If you don't, just hit the streets with resumes in hand.

Not sure about attending NWRBC... I've been to tons of barista competitions/CoffeeFests/SCAA Expos and the WBC last year in Atlanta and the one thing that they all had in common for me was that they are geared toward people ALREADY in the industry. It isn't a job fair for potential baristas so I'm not sure it would really benefit you. HOWEVER, you are already in the area. The one thing that this competition will do is open your eyes to how passionate and broad the coffee industry is and how nice and great the people are. Take a friend along, it's no fun going to someone else's party and not knowing anyone there. If you can spare the time to go, I would go. If you can spare the money for ABC Coffee School, I would go. If none of these things are a possibility then just keep hitting the streets and stress your passion and interest.

-bry
track down the person in charge and offer to volunteer for a few days NWRBC, cleaning stations, getting ice , washing dishes... if i were looking over your application and saw that it'd at least get you an interview.

Nothing says "I'm serious about this" like a couple of days of volunteered grunt labor.
Get experience...no matter the venue.
whatever dude....

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
I agree with Ed.

Oops, meant I agree with Andy...
I agree with a lot of what is being said....
I'm also new to the industry- I started about 8 months ago. The shop I work at is a little atypical (we have a very small staff so personality and ability to learn is more important than experience) but I think you can apply what I did to your interest.

Attack from behind! Learn the shop, get to know the employees, learn the menu, show them you're interested in coffee and knowledgeable about it. THEN ask about an application and talk to a manager instead of just handing in the app. to whoever's working.

Remember, the more you know about and study before you start a job, the quicker you will learn and the happier everyone will be! For instance: if you know the technique of pulling a shot and how big it is, and how many shots the shop you're going to work at puts in each of their sizes (And what they call their sizes :D) think how much easier it will be to learn/ to prove you mean business/for them to train you!

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