I will be opening a small coffee shop in England. We will be heavily focused  on producing great coffee ( Synesso Cyncra + Anfim Super Caimano combo)  and we are going to use beans from one of the best roasters in England.

 

I make espresso based drinks at home for myself. I've read lots on the internet and bought many books on the subject of coffee and coffee.business BUT I have never worked in a coffee shop before.

 

My aim is simple : To make the best coffee in the town. Sooo the questions is  "Shall I hire an experienced  Barista from the beginning "  or  I train myself and all the other beginners and hope we get to a decent standard in a few months?

 

The shop is due to open in about 4-5 weeks.

 

As usual, thanks for all responses in advance.

 

Cheers

 

Dav

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Hi Jay,

Congratulations on your new endeavour!

As consultant, I would not hire experienced baristas to work for you, it will be very hard to train them to do what you want the way you want them, they will bring what they have learned from the outside in. I would recommend that you bring someone fresh in that has some fast food experience for the fast pace and train them on the coffee the way you want it done.
For more information please visit espressobusiness.com

Thanks
Hi Dav,

This can always be a difficult thing when hiring, & i know a lot of baristas and shop owners who worry about the same things. Some baristas dont like working with "newbies" others love it. Some shop owners go straight for the most "experienced" barista they can find and then find they have conflicts with management/other baristas because "thats not how i do it". Every barista works differently, and most baristas are trained differently. As a trainer i personally like to take on staff that i can train myself (a little bit of experience can help). I'm very passionate about my shop, the reputation & quality we have is down to the staff - how they prepare the drinks & how they opporate in general (personally & together). Ok i have to take the time to train from scratch (or basic level) but this is easier than untraining then retraining or picking out bad habits and ironing out any creases. Also, i notice that my staff feel more integrated and are "part" of my shop, they started here and help it to be what it is.

This is just MY opinion and they way I prefer to do it, i think its better for my business and the people i work with. I get to know people quicker and figure out there capabilities at earlier stages, plus it can be fun too :) .
But, its not how everyone wants/like to do it. I know a lot of shops i have worked with hate the whole training thing with a passion.

Good luck with which ever way you decide to go & if you need any help or advice with the training just send me a message & i'll see if i can help

Thanks Dav
Kim xx
Lots of great advice here.

My advice is: do lots and lots of interviews. When someone says "I'm a barista", try to find out what their actual experience is. I get lots of "experienced" baristas who only have experience on super-automatic machines, etc. If you can find a serious barista or two, by all means hire them. If you are lucky, you'll find someone who's serious about coffee, and that could be a lifesaver in your initial months. If you plan on giving them more responsibilities, plan on paying them for it as well.

However, it's paramount that you know enough to be able to speak authoritatively about what kinds of standards you want to set. Get to classes if you can, befriend cafe owners, roasters, baristas, see what you can learn from them.

Hiring people with experience is potentially a double-edged sword, I agree with everyone else there. You definitely want someone who will respect your decisions at the end of the day and not spread any bad vibes around your staff if you're not doing it "their way". It is harder to unlearn than to learn, as it were.

However, speaking as a barista: don't be too afraid of hiring someone experienced, you'll be doing yourself a disservice and denying a job to someone who may be trying to make a career out of coffee. If you can find someone who is already passionate about coffee & customer service, who can offer advice and help train but also follow your directions, who won't freak out when you get slammed your opening week, that is priceless. Someone passionate and experienced could really help you achieve your vision.
Well thats a tough one. At the shop I work at we dont hire employees we higher baristas or people how are passionate. Eventually those who dont have experience will learn quickly. Heck I spent a year just volunteering to how passionate I was. So just look for people who want to be in the biz not for the glory but for the love of the coffee
It all depends Dav. I believe it is more important to understand what it depends on than any other factor. Depends on your business model and goals most of all IMHO. I am in my third year of having a small craft coffee roastery/bakery coffee shop with wine tasting.
My partner and I were very careful to get as much training our selves as possible. Coffee Lab International for Roasting School. Long Beach California 2007 USBC Coffee Event for Barista training.
Seattle Coffee Fest 2007, more coffee business training and more Barista training.
Now after 2 years as a working owner/manager/barista I have given two new employees some basic training but I don't feel this is adequate even in my very small town.
My recomendation is that you first learn as much your self as possible so you can give "basic training" to your unskilled staff, then pay out of your pocket to get them some training from another local coffee shop that you know or trust. The one I plan on using for this is 50 miles from me so there is no conflict what so ever. Besides this shop I want to help me with some basic milk skills is a personal friend of mine.
Now you might save your self much of what I'm going to do by hiring a Barista to head up your shop and be in charge of all Barista staff training.
Depends on how deep your start up pockets are.
Sincerely,
Joseph
Dav,
Most important word of advice I can give is this. Try and spend as much time with other business people already doing successfully what it is you want to do. It is call Mentorship and it has worked for me for 58 years.
Joseph
Hi Dav,
Are you using Union Roasters for your coffee? I lived in London for a time and opened Seattle Coffee Co stores and Starbucks as well so I have a great interest in UK coffee. Jeremy and Steven at Union are great if that is your choice. They would certainly train you initially for free and support ongoing training that is absolutely necessary. I would only hire experienced Baristas' from a place I think is doing a booming business like Cafe Nero otherwise use your Roast Master's trainers. You will definitely need training yourself it is not easy to learn at home that's for sure. Another place to go for training is the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). I will be in the EU for the next 3 weeks if you are still in need of assistance. I was planning a stop in London to visit friends sometime after the 27 November. Dawn

Dawn
Dawn,
Thank you for your input on this topic. It is hard to get or find folks like you with such diverse and encompassing background. It is an often discussed subject and one we new bees are always confronted with.
Best Regards
Joseph



Dawn Pinaud said:
Hi Dav,
Are you using Union Roasters for your coffee? I lived in London for a time and opened Seattle Coffee Co stores and Starbucks as well so I have a great interest in UK coffee. Jeremy and Steven at Union are great if that is your choice. They would certainly train you initially for free and support ongoing training that is absolutely necessary. I would only hire experienced Baristas' from a place I think is doing a booming business like Cafe Nero otherwise use your Roast Master's trainers. You will definitely need training yourself it is not easy to learn at home that's for sure. Another place to go for training is the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). I will be in the EU for the next 3 weeks if you are still in need of assistance. I was planning a stop in London to visit friends sometime after the 27 November. Dawn

Dawn

Hi Dawn, Yes I've heard good things about Union, but I've gone for Steve Leighton of HasBean. Another great roaster and not too far from where I live. I'm in Birmingham, so please come up and say "Hello". You might just find me and an assistant, trying to develop our systems before we target the general public

Cheers

Dav



Dawn Pinaud said:
Hi Dav,
Are you using Union Roasters for your coffee? I lived in London for a time and opened Seattle Coffee Co stores and Starbucks as well so I have a great interest in UK coffee. Jeremy and Steven at Union are great if that is your choice. They would certainly train you initially for free and support ongoing training that is absolutely necessary. I would only hire experienced Baristas' from a place I think is doing a booming business like Cafe Nero otherwise use your Roast Master's trainers. You will definitely need training yourself it is not easy to learn at home that's for sure. Another place to go for training is the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). I will be in the EU for the next 3 weeks if you are still in need of assistance. I was planning a stop in London to visit friends sometime after the 27 November. Dawn

Dawn
Personally I think whether you hire a Barista or not you need to train and learn what is going on in your own store..You need to be the one that is the expert for them to come to with questions and you need to KNOW whether they are doing their job properly or not. No one is going to treat your business the way you would because you own it and they don't. You don't want the employees going to someone else for the answer to their questions, it might not be the one you would give with your business in mind. It's a hard lesson but it is a true one. You need to know absolutely everything about your own business so that you can monitor everything.
The place where I purchased my espresso machine also roasted their own beans and was a very popular place in my town... they trained my entire staff and you have to be the one that sets the standards of your coffee and just play with it for a bit to find the right blend that you want...but you really don't want someone set in their ways that you cannot train to do the coffee your way.
Experienced or not, you should hire people who are willing to take direction from you. I don't care how long you've been a barista, if you are an employee you should do it the way the employeer says it should be done.

As an owner, you should be willing to listen to your most experienced baristas and take their feedback. If you've made good choices and hired passionate people, then they will want to help you serve the best product possible and provide you with timely respectful ideas for improvements in quality. But any way you cut it, you need employees that will listen and respect your final judgement.

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