I want to be and want my baristas to be the best in my state and I think we are on the way to doing so.  However I feel I might reach the end of my training and experience soon and want to figure out what to do next.  I want to attend a barista training school but I don't have the money and probably wont have it for awhile, what is everyones suggestions on becoming a better barista without spending too much money for training. 

-Jonny 

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go to the nearest intelligentsia, sit down with a note pad and take notes
To bad the nearest one is a few states away... Any other suggestions? I mean don't get me wrong Id love to get set down and intellegentsia and just watch and study for awhile but I don't have the money to travel to LA or chicago. I did do that with stumptowns and northwest a few months ago and that was a great learning experience.

Skyler Richter said:
go to the nearest intelligentsia, sit down with a note pad and take notes
stumptown is the best training, that is who i get my training from. I dont go in and watch them tho, they come to my shop and train me in LA. other than that, I cant really suggest anything but to maybe get a couple movies about coffee and watch them. You can do a trip to the nearest intelligentsia or stumptown and on route there you can stop at different coffee shops for work for the day, youd have to plan the destinations and call them first of course, I am going to that come September, going to portland to stumptown and working all the way there. good luck dude. best wishes and god bless.
I feel like there is very little in terms of mechanics you can't learn/teach by repetition (after adopting via experimentaiton). If you want to serve better coffee, and want your staff to prepare better coffee it's all about developing your (collectively) palates. Yes, read about what other shops are doing, keep up to date on technique, etc.
But, ultimately, if you want to serve great coffee your baristas need to care. They need to care about what they're serving and they need reference points to compare the shots they're pulling and the coffee they're brewing against: then they need the tools to equal and exceed the standards that those references set. Buy good coffee, develop your palates, make that good coffee taste as good as it can.
I never really even thought of that. Ill have to give that a try, is that common practice. I live in Utah where the coffee culture is growing but slowly. Competition is pretty fierce and cooperation low, so the idea of hanging out at another shop to learn is pretty foreign to me.

And thanks Ritchie thats where most of my skills have come from so far. Ive worked in the industry for a little now and received training when I worked for another coffee shop but it left a lot to be desired. I started just experimenting and practicing over and over again to get things down however that is a grueling practice that yields varying results.

Skyler Richter said:
stumptown is the best training, that is who i get my training from. I dont go in and watch them tho, they come to my shop and train me in LA. other than that, I cant really suggest anything but to maybe get a couple movies about coffee and watch them. You can do a trip to the nearest intelligentsia or stumptown and on route there you can stop at different coffee shops for work for the day, youd have to plan the destinations and call them first of course, I am going to that come September, going to portland to stumptown and working all the way there. good luck dude. best wishes and god bless.
Much of the training out there is focused on developing solid fundamental skills. When you understand the fundamentals, perform them consistently, can objectively evaluate your results, and know how to adapt to achieve the desired result every day you have accomplished much. Competency is a wonderful (and under-appreciated) thing.

Equally important is developing your palate. Some training addresses this directly, some doesn't. At very least, though, training should expose you to well-executed drinks. In any case, palate development is critical because it is your guide moving forward.

I happen to think that being trained is the best way to develop basic competency for skills and palate. However, after you've achieved basic competency, the focus ought to shift from "being trained" to continuously learning and practicing.

Learning can come from reading publications, online discussions, observing others at work, tasting others' drinks, and experimenting. Practicing should seek to intentionally refine technique - improving quality, consistency, and efficiency. In all cases, you're falling back on a palate to guide your progress. This palate, however, should be ever-advancing too, never being satisfied with a certain level of quality for too long, always pursuing greater things.

I guess what I'm saying is, once you've achieved basic competency, become your own trainer. Approach your own development almost like you are two people - the trainer and the trainee. As the trainer, actively seek new things to learn, learn them, practice them, and critically evaluate your results. Move your focus - shot quality, milk texture, milk waste, shot time consistency improvement, preparation speed, bar cleanliness, latte art, exploring different flavors in your espresso, signature beverages, etc. As the trainee, work deliberately to master each new lesson before moving on.

I agree with previous statements about getting out into the world. This is one of the truest ways to find both where you stand and where you can go. This is one of the reasons that many great baristas compete, judge, travel extensively, and visit others' cafes. The possibilities for learning are endless if one looks hard enough.
start to cup coffee, find the different. attend competition, (always have money to invest). go to coffee fest, get involved.
Go to your local best barista and talk to them.
Stumptown training is great, however, it is not necessory to go there if you dont have time and money.because youtube always free.
jimseven blog is also a great blog for you to learn.

good luck!



Jonathan Morrison said:
To bad the nearest one is a few states away... Any other suggestions? I mean don't get me wrong Id love to get set down and intellegentsia and just watch and study for awhile but I don't have the money to travel to LA or chicago. I did do that with stumptowns and northwest a few months ago and that was a great learning experience.

Skyler Richter said:
go to the nearest intelligentsia, sit down with a note pad and take notes
Jonathan -

I feel for you because when I started out I was in a very similar situation. If you're in a remote location with limited funds, I suggest you read voraciously. Read and post about technique and basic skills. If you have the opportunity to meet skilled baristas, ask them for advice and maybe technique demonstrations. Pay attention then try it for yourself.

I was lucky to find a friend and mentor early on whom I could ask questions and generally be told straightaway that i was doing it completely wrong. It was very helpful. Since they were on the West Coast and I am on the East Coast, it made for very infrequent learning sessions, but I took what I could, tried to remember it as best as possible then took it home and practiced. I'm sure I served a lot of bad coffee to customers in the early days and wasted tons of coffee.

The key is to know your "end game." Do you know the kind of espresso you're using and the flavor profile? Target that. Let your palate be your guide.
I think all of the advice given is pretty solid but the most important bit that I would reiterate is simple: repitition. Practice, practice and when you're done practicing, practice some more. Also, if you haven't already done so hold in-house competitions with your staff, I'd even invite baristas from other shops.

If you have loyal, repeat customers then maybe if you label your tip jar "training fund" or something like that and explain what it is you hope to accomplish perhaps they'll thrown in a little bit more with each purchase.

Good luck!
Join the BGA. It's only $45 and you get some pretty great discounts on classes and such.

Also, the BGA and SCAA websites are great sources of info and recommendations.
I spend alot of time on the BGA site Id love to go to one of their classes but none of them are in my area and again I just don't have the money to travel and attend a class *tear*.
Jonny,
I really like Jay's comments regard a mentor. I do that as much as possible. Would you go into a little more detail as to where you are now with your skill level and where you would like to eventually be?
Is it the art you are talking about?
If so I have learned a lot by studding Utube videos and practicin with friends. I find myself now training my clients that I'm roasting for. One of the best ways to fine tune an art is to teach it. Teach what you know and more will come with practice.
Joe

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