March 23, 2016

How to Grow a Generation of BariSTARS: 6 Steps


Coffee is a wonderful thing – but, as a barista and coach myself, the ultimate satisfaction comes from mentoring the next generation of baristas. It’s a privilege to help shape and mould young people filled with the passion and potential to become an amazing coffee professional.

So whether you’re a café owner, coach, or experienced barista mentoring new staff, here are six steps to helping those new baristas become bariSTARS.

Lee este artículo en español 6 Pasos Para Formar Una Generación de BariSTARS

holding a glass of coffee against a white wall

BariSTARS know it’s all about the coffee. Credit: @karabomashishi, @manmakecoffee

1. Remember the Basics

Whenever I see a barista who seems to have lost their way, I encourage them to get back to the basics. Think back to the first time you poured a beautiful heart… it was an amazing feeling, but it took you time and patience you they reached that point, right?

You have to walk before you can run, so new baristas must have patience with themselves. If you see them struggling or getting demotivated, encourage them to focus on what matters – like establishing excellent extraction and texturing milk.

The foundation of everything we love is in that cup. The synergy and harmony of the ingredients are what turns a cup of coffee into a perfect caffeinated delight. Help your young barista remember that.

pouring a latte art heart

Back to the basics – love in a cup. Credit: @_andryardyansah, @manmakecoffee 

2. Build a Positive Attitude

Whether a barista is inclined to be the life of the party or the person hiding in the corner, they always need to have a positive attitude when on shift. And we can help that by bringing our own positive attitude to play.

‘Coffee makes me happy.’ Remind your mentee of this. It should be the motto that puts the wind in their sails every morning.

Ask them to take a hard look at what motivates them. What about this industry gives them the drive to be the best barista they can be? Is it that with coffee, they can be inventive, expressive, creative, or even crazy? Keeping that in mind will help them to stay positive.

barista serving a coffee

A great attitude makes a great coffee. Credit: @thegrindza, @manmakecoffee 

 3. Let Them Take Responsibility

This job gives opportunities for fun, but professionalism and dedication are vitally important. Not only do your mentees need to manage their work area, but they need to ensure that all orders are handled efficiently and that customers are happy. They must be reliable and punctual, in addition to ensuring that the equipment placed in their care is maintained correctly.

So how do you coach them on this? Remind them to always stay focused, and tell them to be proud of the position they hold. In this way, you will help them grow as both a barista and a person.  

barista working at an espresso machine

Focus and dedication can make a smoking barista. Credit: @maulanadefri, @manmakecoffee 

 4. Be an Inspiration

We all need a bit of encouragement and inspiration along the way – and you need to be that for your young baristas. Stay positive for them.

Yet know that you can’t be their only inspiration, either. Nudge them to surround themselves with people that will bring out the best in them. Organise for them to attend tasting events, cupping sessions, and even barista competitions. This will give them some perspective and inspire them to set goals for what they’d like to achieve in your career.

Connecting with like-minded people can help new baristas along the way. You never know… maybe one day they’ll be a source of inspiration to their own mentee bariSTAR!

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Barista

barista championships competition

Wayne Oberholzer, current South African barista champion, is a source of inspiration. Credit: @erinwulfsohn, @manmakecoffee 

5. Encourage Teamwork

Yes, your mentee is an individual who needs to express themselves. But they must remember that they’re not alone in this industry.

Often, in the café environment, they’ll be surrounded by managers, wait staff, kitchen staff, cleaners, and other baristas. Sometimes these people will get up in your mentee’s business, and your mentee might not always agree with, or even like, these people.

But this is part of the journey and it helps shape us into the people we become. Encourage your new barista to always be a team player. Because patience, tolerance, and kindness may not seem to go hand in hand with perfect extraction or detailed latte art, but they are central to being a good barista.

baristas having fun at work

Teams who have fun together work together. Credit: @aalviansyah, @manmakecoffee 

6. Think Ambassadorship

Just as you’re a coffee ambassador to your mentee, they can become a coffee ambassador to other people. Each and every day, your new baristas will encounter people through coffee. This gives them a tremendous opportunity to share our love of and passion for it, spreading it to consumers and other coffee professionals alike.

The way we see the world changes through education. As your mentees learn more, encourage them to actively share their experiences, love for coffee, and knowledge about the perfect brew with others.

Because if you love what you do, you should share that love with the people around you.

Education will help this amazing industry continue to grow. Your mentee’s journey can impact many people – as they become a more knowledgeable barista, they’ll be able to help and guide others. And in that way, they can complete the circle by helping even more people to become bariSTARS.

barista performance at competition

Ishan Natalie – South African coffee champion and ambassador. Credit: @zhdanofff, @manmakecoffee

The Future of BariSTARS

Baristaing is so much more than simply making a cup of coffee. it keeps us connected to millions of people across the world also enjoying the same drink.

For your new mentee, it will create both opportunities and challenges. They’ll never experience a dull moment, and instead, will have days full of excitement, disappointment, breakthroughs – and, of course, fun.

And whatever your role in coffee – barista, coach, roaster, farmer, Champion, or just a coffee lover – you have the ability to impact this industry in so many ways. By working with integrity and giving this industry the respect it deserves, you create a healthy environment for everyone (as well as learning many valuable lessons yourselves!)

Personally, I love being a barista and a trainer. I choose to make a difference everyday, even if it’s just one person or one coffee at a time. With knowledge, passion, attitude, dedication, and creativity, you can be a positive influence. Let’s keep fostering a healthy coffee industry to raise the next generation of bariSTARS!

Edited by S. Parrish.

Perfect Daily Grind.