By Dan Lacey
At its best, education can transform a coffee business. It inspires and engages employees, and it enhances customer loyalty and experience. Developing, retaining, and attracting talent are vital activities for business growth and success. So why is formally recognized training so often treated as an afterthought or a ‘nice to have’?
So often in hospitality, I’ve seen budding baristas put in charge of coffee service with little to no knowledge or guidance. The resulting coffee is often terrible. Customers get disenfranchised, baristas become demotivated, and growers and roasters don’t get the respect that their carefully produced coffee deserves.
We must ask ourselves, is it really fair to expect baristas to make great coffee without the knowledge, skills, and time to practice? Those of us who work in coffee understand that there’s both an art and a science to making great coffee, pouring beautiful milk and running a busy cafe. These are skills that take time to master. One business championing coffee education is Boston Tea Party, a group of twenty-strong cafes, which puts every barista through SCA Foundation Level training as standard procedure.
Having worked together since 2011, last year Extract Coffee Roasters and Boston Tea Party embarked on an ambitious project which has since seen over 100 baristas—an entire workforce—receive SCA Foundation Level qualifications in just under nine months. What’s more, with the support of Extract Coffee Roasters, eight have since gone on to complete intermediate training, with another 12 scheduled in for the second half of the year.
“We have been able to raise our coffee game through committing to the SCA program. Our baristas are given training to emphasize the importance of consistency, how to achieve it in the heat of service and are shown a pathway into coffee as a career. By investing in our team, we retain quality at our core as people work their way through our organization.
“We are able to provide a better experience for our customers, and we believe that through a greater understanding of the role of a barista you can increase value for them too. Extract Coffee Roasters and Boston Tea Party share the ideals of quality and education being at the center of everything we do.”
– Simon Buckingham, Group Drinks Trainer
Why does investing in formalized training work? Taking a new barista out of their busy cafe environment and into a dedicated learning space helps them build an appreciation for the product, and for the skills required to do it justice. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for baristas to truly understand the story behind the coffee they serve. When baristas come to Extract Coffee Roastery for training, they learn in a dedicated space in the heart of the roastery, and they watch the process unfold from start to finish. They hear the hum of the roasters, they smell the coffee roasting, and they watch beans being packed by hand.
It’s an immersive learning experience, founded on the principle that by experiencing first-hand the care and passion that goes into roasting our coffee, the barista will, in turn, put the same care into making it. Investing in the SCA’s education system results in a team of baristas that are professional, knowledgeable, and better equipped to serve your valuable customer base.
Dan Lacey joined Extract Coffee Roasters as Head of Training and Development in 2015 having previously taught at London School of Coffee. Dan is an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST).