It's been about 2 months since I've started Museo, and one the surprisingly rewarding things I've discovered is the joys which come with training new staff. [some rambling might follow, be warned!]
I'm curious to hear from others about their experiences training new baristas.
How long do you find it takes before a new barista gets the hang of pulling good espresso shots? And how about milk - going from basics to mastering cappuccino and latte art?
I've found I've been able to take people with no prior experience to be pulling good shots in a few days, and mastery of milk in 2-3 weeks. Not that latte art is the be all and end all of training, but it seems to be a common high point for a new barista, when many critical things come together (ie latte art usually comes after being able to deconstruct a shot).
Are any of you using props, videos, diagrams, etc in your training process? Some of the things I've found useful is shooting video of a baristas latte pour, and showing it back to them, or 'spotting' a pour - having them hold the pitcher and cup help guide their pour by moving their hand for them (ie raising/lowering the height of the pitcher, when to start the wiggle, etc).
One interesting thing I've discovered, I think was from James H's blog, was a training program that asked baristas to intentionally overextract and underextract a shot using two different methods, and I think this highlights a cool thing about training itself, where it can take on elements of pedagogy (when teaching itself transcend instruction and becomes art and science). Learning about and developing a more advanced pedagogical approach is possibly one of the things that excites me most about coming into the shop... (of course, its always important to renew your challenges).
It's kind of a cool thing to take someone with the aptitude and desire to learn about coffee, especially when they have a developing palate, and work with them over the course of a few weeks nurturing their understanding of coffee into something that empowers them and becomes an integral part of their identity.
Of course, I love those AHA! moments, where a barista nails a rosetta, or pulls a true god shot - or discovers a flavour in drip coffee they never thought possible before. Even better is when your barista drops a better cappuccino than what you usually pour!
And possibly my favorite thing is to be working in the backroom, and hear the sound of milk being steamed properly!!! A few slight rips, you hear the wand sink, then the whir of milk rising to termination temperature, and finally the grumble of the vacuum breaker as milk finishes. Nothing makes me writhe in pain more than the sound of milk being utterly destroyed; thus hearing it done well is symphonic!
Surely there are other out there who too find training new staff immensely rewarding?