I've recently taken a new job with a company as an Assistant Manager for their shops. Their goal in hiring me was that I would find out why they weren't successful and fix the problem. Some of the problems they've faced have been communication and service based. Also, they admitted that they needed someone in management who understood coffee beyond drinking no-fun sf vanilla lattes.
I'm spending my first month as a double-agent, observing what goes on in the shop and reporting it to my supervisor. No one but my super-visor knows that i will eventually be in charge.
However, my first few days have been challenging, because the coffee and espresso-making situation is very serious. So far, I've seen everything that would make a professional barista cringe, from pre- and mass-steaming the milk, to pre-grinding espresso the night before, to using the grinder attachment to tamp shots for lack of a proper tamper. All of the employees are doing this, including ones that have worked in shops for more than three years, whether they're good employees or bad. Many of the mistakes being made are due to lack of proper equipment.
So, besides addressing service and communication issues, I now have to tell my supervisor that every one of the employees needs to be re-trained and she needs to spend money on more equipment. (Luckily, the equipment is little stuff like tamps, pitchers, and thermometers.)

Ultimately, what I need to know is
A) How do I gingerly break this news to my boss, who may not understand why the quality is such a problem
B) How do I re-train three shops worth of employees and make it clearly cost-effect for my supervisor.

Views: 178

Replies to This Discussion

you can't gingerly break the news. They need to know and they hire you for this reason, isn't it? esp. when you were acting as dbl agent.
Tell them the truth and go on a field trip with the management to show them some of the top cafes in your area and show them how drinks are properly made.
Once you break the bad news, go with the good news. Your goals, your plans and training program etc that is needed to spiff up the company.

Since you are the assistant manager, you need to work with the manager in charge and have them work out a training schedule for all the cafes.

Some costs are necessary and is good investment.

Hope it all goes well.

Marilyn Eng
T.A.N Coffee Toronto
For training you could consider the barista training dvd set avail at http://espresso101.com/books_dvds/training
There's also a link to the same guys on the right side of this page.
Thanks, I'm really just not sure how i should train 20+ employees that thought they knew what they were doing the whole time. Do I go with buying training material, training each one myself, or getting our supplier to train everyone? (I don't even know our supplier yet, so I hope they offer that.) In the end, I know it comes down to individually holding every barista accountable for their drink-making, but I'm not sure which is the best way to start off for our shops.
I think you have to tell ya boss how it is "you are paying me for my observation and opinion".

Field trip is a awsome way to open someones eyes but may not be viewd the best,

Go expence all the tools you need to get the best out of the coffe alrady being used and pull some shots you like then sit ya boss down and make them drink your way and the wrong way. prove that you can make a good espresso with he coffee.

Marilyn is right dont bring up a issue without a solution, then its all time time time,

with the barisats with bad habbits you maye have to get rid off some, some may enjoye what ya doing there is nothing like fresh blood, hire some new people and train them right from the begining, again time time time.

have fun
Thank you for your great comments everyone! I meeting this week with the owner to present my plan, which includes the field trip idea. I'm really excited about that bit. I'm hoping to find some industry friends from the area to help out with it.
Who is your coffee roaster? I would try calling and seeing if they have a training team. Maybe they could work side by side with you to come up with a training plan.

Katherine said:
Thank you for your great comments everyone! I meeting this week with the owner to present my plan, which includes the field trip idea. I'm really excited about that bit. I'm hoping to find some industry friends from the area to help out with it.
I love my Gimme! Barista manual, It has a lot of useful equipment notes, training trouble shooting, and you can keep it on bar for all to see and share.
My favorite part is the equipment section, there is so much value in knowing how to keep our machines clean and running right with less breakdowns and lower repair costs.



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