The most immediate, and perhaps obvious reason to concentrate your recruitment and training on your service staff is that properly trained baristas make better quality drinks. Our coffee is born of generations of expertise, hours of labour; it travels thousands of miles, and is slow roasted to perfection and it only takes a sloppy barista a few seconds to render all of that hard work useless.
Making sure baristas receive a proper training programme will make the difference between a half-drunk cup of coffee and customers coming back time and time again to buy their cuppa from you.
Investing a little time and money in staff development is a no-brainer because everybody wins: the customer gets a consistently great experience, coffee is being served to a high standard, and the barista is learning a skill for life. We can’t expect baristas to care about the coffee if we don’t show that we care about them. Setting high standards can only encourage staff development and customer satisfaction.
The other benefit of a knowledgeable barista is that they can talk about coffee all day. You never know who is going to walk through the door of your business; it could be a coffee novice, or someone who really knows their panama geisha from their honey-processed Costa-Rican. Your barista still needs to be able to talk about their preferences. A well-trained, switched on barista can make recommendations or create new drinks recipes to keep customers interested and ultimately get them back next time to try something new.
If you’re looking to hire a barista and want to check out their credentials, then look for the following things:
- Their processes are slick: Spend a bit of time watching them – if there’s a method to their work, a rhythm when they’re banging out those coffees; chances are they know what they’re doing. No one wants a chaotic coffee – consistency is key.
- Their working area is clean and tidy: Let’s face it; making a coffee is messy. There are coffee grounds flying about as well as milk and hot water. Check: do they clean the porter filters after each use? Is the steam arm sparkling or covered in crusty old milk? Do they re-use the milk jugs without rinsing, or worse: re-heat the milk? All these things affect the taste (and hygiene) of your coffee – good baristas are on top of it.
- They can recommend your next coffee: A great barista cares about coffee and about their customer and can use their knowledge and passion to tell you about your next favourite drink. I love to go into a coffee bar and just ask for whatever they want to make me – it really shows their calibre.
- The best mate factor: A fantastic barista is not just skilled in customer service; they really know their regulars. We get countless emails to our head office praising our café teams and how they make people feel welcome, at ease and at home. They might have a full café and long to-do list but they know that the customer is King (or Queen). Taking the time to get to know customers is what turns first time visitors into regulars. If your barista knows your name and your coffee order they’re an absolute keeper!
By Scott Russell, founder and CEO of coffee supplier, Paddy and Scott’s