Training for Common Goals

Every day the coffee trainers at Stockton Graham & Co. are working with our wholesale and distributor customers. They are training for common goals, which means providing the knowledge and expertise required to deliver an outstanding coffee experience with every cup.

And that means that our coffee trainers are very busy people. They are the team our wholesale and distributor customers count on to teach café managers, baristas and employees the essentials of coffee and espresso.

While converting coffee enthusiasts to budding coffee professionals in six hours flat is rewarding, it’s also a very big task. Interest from large multi-unit foodservice organizations now means they’re taking our Coffee College 101 course on the road too.

Between reviewing the anatomy of coffee fruit (skin, pulp, parchment, seed) and practicing proper milk steaming (and why a latte is different from a cappuccino) – we seldom have time to talk about WHY coffee training is important anyway.

But it is very important. Here’s why.

Quality & Service

Primary to any coffee business is the reality that there are literally millions of places that serve coffee, and every day consumers make a choice. Do they have time in the morning to park the car and walk into a coffee shop for a latte? Are they driving through for a 32oz cup of brew? Did they put a pod in their home brewer, or did they take the time to grind their own beans for a French Press?

With so many choices, the coffee business that provides the best quality product and service is sure to win. In a recent survey of out-of-house coffee drinkers, the most important consideration when choosing a place to buy their coffee beverages was consistent service or quality (86%).

But what does that mean?

When we asked coffee shop patrons to break it down for us, a few words kept coming to the top: “knowledge,” “friendliness,” “confidence,” “competency” and “consistency.”

When it comes right down to it, consumers will bypass places that sell inexpensive or speedy coffee in favor of the comfort of knowing that their favorite coffee beverage will be prepared properly and served with a smile.

In short, what’s best for the consumer is best for the business. The most successful coffee businesses know that training is the key to achieving these common goals.

Training for Common Goals

Whatever level of service your business provides — from wholesale distribution to serving prepared beverages — Stockton Graham & Co. believes all coffee professionals should be aware of these fundamentals:

  1. The path of coffee from seed to cup
  2. Taste characteristics of different coffee and roast levels
  3. The seven essentials of coffee brewing
  4. How to pull an espresso shot and steam milk
  5. Basic food safety, cleaning and maintenance

With the guidance of a professional coffee trainer, these five essential coffee topics are best introduced and explored in a hands-on lab setting. In this type of setting, conventional book training is reinforced by hands-on practice in basic coffee and espresso skills. The biggest benefit of this dual-approach is the opportunity for repeated practice with expert guidance. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent a participant has, they can still improve in a skill by practicing.

The common goal, of course, is that every training participant is “on the same page” when they return to the business, confident in their understanding of the skills learned in training. This knowledge and confidence will translate into the friendliness, consistency and service quality that will drive repeat business and long-term coffee profits.

Training for common goals is important. To explore coffee training options for your business, please call our Authorized Specialty Coffee Association Trainer, Brady Butler, at 800 835 5943 or email us at inforequest@stocktongraham.com.

A Simple Money Saving Tip: Barista Training Equals Reduced Milk Waste

Try an experiment: have your barista save all of their leftover milk during a shift (with the goal of reducing milk waste). You’ll probably be shocked at how much it is–then think about how much that milk cost you!

Coffee shops waste a lot of milk. No one should re-steam old milk, which tastes burnt, doesn’t foam right, and is just plain disgusting. Therefore, you need to use fresh milk.  The key is to manage its usage through proper training of each barista. A good one should be able to steam a perfect latte with zero waste.

Sometimes milk wastage stems from overstretching the milk, sometimes it is as simple as overfilling or using a steaming pitcher that is too large.

Says Alex Jeans, Stockton Graham & Co.’s resident barista trainer, “Always be sure to use the right pitcher for the job. Knowing which pitcher corresponds to which size drinks is always extremely helpful.”

Barista Pouring MilkTo prevent that problem, don’t let baristas use the same pitcher for a 6 oz. cappuccino that they would for a 20 oz. latte. Pouring milk and making beautiful and elaborate designs on top of coffee drinks is always an appreciated skill, but a barista should also focus on consistently stretching the right amount of milk to the exact amount needed. It makes them much more efficient as they work and no time is spent trying to figure out what to do with leftover milk.

From a training perspective, if you or your baristas are not starting and ending with the right amount of milk, it’s just not being done correctly. Training for it from the very beginning is the best. If baristas need help hitting the mark with milk, have them join you for an extra training session. Milk waste and the associated costs can definitely be greatly reduced with just a little practice!

 

What brings your coffee customers back for more? Its not super low pricing…

On the social networking site Barista Exchange, a member posed the question, “What brings your [customer’s back for more]?” In other words, what motivates repeat business? I thought this was an excellent question, but I also enjoyed the response from Chris Defario, Training Director at The Coffee Institute and champion latte artist.

He conducted a street survey in Seattle and posed the question, “What keeps you coming back to your coffee shop of choice?” Roughly 50% of those surveyed answered quality, 25% said service, 20% said atmosphere and 5% said price. Chris’ response to his results is something we can all take to heart, especially during these times:

My assertion was that quality, service, and atmosphere are the main things that influence loyalty.
In that order. Price rarely drives loyalty. People by and large prefer a quality experience when dealing with specialty coffee.

By focusing on offering outstanding service and quality, you can keep your best customers happy and expand your base. You aren’t going to gain a bunch of customers by having the “cheapest cup of coffee in town.” 

If you’d like to upgrade your service and quality levels dramatically, while implementing sustainable and adaptable employee training,  give Stockton Graham & Co. a call at 800.835.5943 to learn more about Stockton Graham University and Coffee College.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.