Training New Baristas

I’m curious what systems and strategies you all are using to train brand new employees.

Tons of info?
All the science?
Just the recipes?
Official certifications?
Hands on?
Classroom time?

Anything else? Let’s build a little database here of helpful strategies for coffee educators.

Hello @joshuadusk,
First, the employees joining newly should get familiar with the workflow and understand the motto of the company. In our company, we start with the basic skill set, like even distribution and tamping, proper flow rate, etc. Next, give them recipes and ask them to achieve the taste using those methods (20 - 30 ml of espresso in 30-30 seconds). If the barista is passionate in learning more, then we take him to next steps like giving him more knowledge based stuff.

@joshuadusk Something huge in training for the place I work for was the story of the shop. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Getting people connected emotionally to their place of work will create better customer service, work ethic, and overall interest in making coffee. Every subsequent training will have meaning behind it, and employess will never be asking themselves “Why should I care?” I speak from experience: I didn’t drink a cup of coffee before I worked at my current location, and after training, and listening to my managers express their own passion for the business, I went from 0 to 60 in coffee interest. Now I’m head manager of the place.

We’ll be training our new employees come school season, and I’ve been mulling over in my head of ways I can engage with them and tell our shop’s story in a way that will get them excited to work there. Additionally, I’ve been brainstorming visual ways to explain extraction theory and resources I can direct them to if they find themselves craving more (which they almost always do, after hearing the stories of so many before them), so I’ll be following this post in hopes that more contribute and share ideas.


I would just start with making sure that the employees actually like brewed coffee and espresso, otherwise… eventually they just won’t care about quality of product delivered during service. Even though they “pass” all of the training.

@Korey one visual/memory device I’ve found particulary helpful for explaining basic coffee extraction is seeing each coffee grind particle as a maze/mine being navigated by water miners.

As the miners go through the maze, they grab whatever is on the surface of the walls and deposit it in a treasure pile (cup of coffee) on the other side.

The top layer of the walls is tin or copper (acids). They will end up in the pile no matter what,

As that is cleared out of the way, it reveals gold & silver (sugars) underneath and the miners start grabbing that stuff.

As that is taken out, lead and rock (bitters) are revealed and the miners keep grabbing at that and carrying it with them.

They key is to stop the mining as soon as you have all the gold & silver!

The larger the maze, the longer it takes the miners to get through it (slower extraction) and vice versa.

Heating the water is like making your miners more excited and energetic (sometimes i call it “water on speed” but you could say “after hearing a motivational speech” if you want to be more PC :wink:

Agitation is kinda like throwing the miners into the maze.

Proper water is giving them tools.

A darker roast means crumblier maze walls.

The visual is imperfect but I have found it to be a great reference point for people trying to remember all the variables in brewing!


Being only on the receiving end of training all i can say is that for me it was really helpfull to have a theory explained and immediately after have the chance to practice that theory.

Also repetition repetition repetition. Making sure they don’t stop when they nail it once but nail it consecutively

1 Like

I really like your point on nailing it over and over. Sometimes we are in such a rush to get people trained and an extra hour or two and/or a few minutes each day for a week can make a ton of difference.

What was your experience with the value of tasting what you had just made, even if you had done it imperfectly?

One of the greatest things i was taught was margin. Knowing how far you can stretch imperfection. Our predominant flavor is always sweet. We tend to accept bitterness when it’s mellow. On of the greatest things as well was to trust our judgement and not to make one sided changes. Let a fellow barista taste as well to really make sure the brew is flawed