The apathy of the barista

June 27th, 2005

Its something that has been on my mind quite a lot lately. I have no idea how many people work as baristas in the uk, but there must be thousands and thousands. I rarely, if ever, see them on websites looking for information and trying to futher their knowedge.

I don’t expect every single chef to be online looking for recipes but you don’t struggle to find them – certainly those doing well. Even if you look at the US, where there is a slightly better culture for baristas to learn in. the percentage online is still absolutely tiny. These days internet access is everywhere so its pretty likely they could find out stuff if they wanted to.

So why don’t they care? Why aren’t they proud of what they do, and why don’t they want to do it better? Do they think they are already as good as they can be (I’ve met a few of those types on my travels – I’m glad I’m finally learning I have nothing to prove, so I rarely get sucked into alpha male arguments!)?

I firmly believe that its not the base level that we should be aiming at – not those baristas working every day, solidly knocking out coffees. Its the management we need to get to, to encourage them to invest in their staff with more than just wages but with a little passion. Any chain could hold cupping sessions, or do little courses to expand their staffs knowledge on any one of a hundred different areas of the coffee industry. We need to communicate the benefits and worth of this to them and then I think we shall slowly start to see results.

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