I know this has been a topic of conversation many times before, however I thought I'd bring it up again...

After working in the specialty coffee industry for nearly ten years now, I constantly run into Starbucks employees who come into our shop.  Which is great, don't get me wrong.  However they ALWAYS point out that they work there, or have before.

I guess what brought this on is a customer who has been coming in for awhile now, who I now have an interview with tomorrow was telling me that she knows "how to do everything already."

What makes these people think that they know how our business operates?  Or even make drinks correctly?

I guess I've never worked for a coffee chain before, but I really question how extensive their training is.



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I never worked for Starbucks. In fact, I never worked for any coffee company, except my own. But I have reviewed, interviewed and hired a lot of people - some of them former Starbucks baristas and trainers. To my experience, it all comes down to the individual and what I (and by extension, my company) am looking for in an employee barista.

I want great people with great ethic and wonderful customer and interpersonal relationship skills. That's the primary requirement, love/passion for coffee is secondary. I can teach any monkey how to make espresso, but I cannot teach an asshole to be a nice person who cares for their neighbors well-being.

Some applicants have come to the table with the attitude of "I know everything about coffee" and they are dismissed straightaway. Maybe you do know everything about coffee at Starbucks, Blue Bottle or 49th Parallel, but you don't know coffee how I want it prepared. And that's the bottom line: as a barista, you work to my standards and my standards alone. Maybe you were the former national or world barista champion who's roasted coffee and won cupping championships and latte art throwdowns and are generally regarding as an "amazing" barista - however, if you cannot perform and adhere to my standards, you're getting fired like the rest of them.

I encourage you to develop your vision and your standards and seek out people who can execute to your expectations. Coffee people are great, and they bring a wonderful perspective to the company, but I believe in people and seek out people with great personalities and who can take care of our customers that also have the aptitude to perform to my standards.

Don't get caught up in thinking Starbucks people are one way or the other. There are some great people working right now for that company who will find a better home with your company. Keep your eyes open for them when they come a knocking.

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