– by Will Glover, Business Development Manager Veneziano Coffee Roasters
Writing this and looking back to where it all began blows my mind at just how quickly time passes. I was nineteen, had dropped out of university and the reality that I would not make a living from snowboarding was beginning to settle in. I began to search for an alternative source of income that required no previous experience. We’ve all been there and to overcome that barrier to entry is an accomplishment in itself.
Becoming a barista is a great starting point. It’s a role that is widely available and with the right training can easily be learnt. Getting your foot in the door without experience can be challenging but don’t give up. Plenty of café owners will agree that they are constantly looking for passionate individuals to join their team. Take the time to research your local coffee scene, attend public cuppings or try an introductory barista course available at Veneziano Coffee Roasters to increase your coffee IQ.
Now we’re talking, you’re a barista! So how do you continue to develop your coffee IQ? Your managers or employers can be fantastic mentors, they have a wealth of knowledge that got them to where they are and in most cases, will be happy to share their pearls of wisdom. If you feel comfortable enough use the rapport you’ve formed with your regulars for constructive feedback. Engage with your suppliers, the team at your coffee roastery will have an extensive knowledge, remembering no question will be ridiculed as they were in your position not too long ago. Most importantly practice makes perfect, each time you make a cup of Joe focus on a particular attribute you want improve.
By now there’s a good chance your friends and family know more about coffee from your incessant ramblings than Brits voting on #brexit. You live and breath coffee and wish to take it to the next level, so what’s next?
Have a competitive streak?
If being a barista is your thing, then competitions are great for refining your skill set and networking with likeminded peers. If you’re afraid the more serious comps may be over your head, get your toes wet with the Aeropress Championships or a latte art smackdown. At Veneziano Coffee Roasters we run regular comps for the novice competitor and courses to help prepare for this process or alternatively assist in preparing better coffee for your daily customers.
Behind the scenes – green bean buying and roasting.
Coffee roasting is a fascinating process and can be a great component of the industry to pursue. With so many varietals and producing regions, understanding how to best prepare coffee with a roaster is a life’s body of work in itself. An integral part of understanding coffee is its taste. Our roastery holds public cuppings regularly and will allow you to connect with your roaster. Just like the challenges presented when entering the industry as a barista, roasters are keen to work with passionate individuals and at the very least often have a role in packing or distribution to start from.
Coffee is grown in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. Our focus on direct trade means our green bean buyers and roasters visit producers on a regular basis. Before getting on a flight, a quality assurance role will develop your understanding of purchasing and maintaining your blend’s identity. Complete your Q grading to give you the skills to correctly evaluate coffee at the roastery and on the farm.
Born to teach?
Standards in coffee are always changing and the bar is always being raised as we discover efficiencies as a result of new equipment, innovations and learnings. It’s such a fast moving industry, that if you don’t stay at the top of your game you’ll fall behind. We here at Veneziano Coffee Roasters are all about discovering new ways of doing things and sharing these with the world. We have a team of barista trainers that have been in the industry for years, again most began in the industry as a barista, and moved into a training role not only just to teach future baristas, but to challenge their own learnings and skill sets.
Fascinated by how those machines work?
Are you the barista who read the espresso machine manual back to front on your first day? Know the specifications of your top three ranked grinders? Or just love tinkering with machines? Technical support could be the right move for you. Try to create a dialogue with equipment producers to learn or become an apprentice in technical support.
Maybe you’re a people person.
If you’re old hand at making coffee, consider the significance of the value you can add to independent coffee operators as a business development manager. Become a mentor yourself by using the skills you have acquired to increase quality and efficiency whilst inspiring others to deliver exceptional customer service.
Open your own café!
Why not? You’ve surrounded yourself with a great network of industry professionals, you have the skills to make a perfect cup of coffee, and you know the key factors that are integral in the success of a café. Do your due diligence and develop a business plan. Pick a location and target customer base that aligns with your own values, establish your unique selling proposition (you need to stand out from the crowd), and build a brand. Granted, it will be hard work, but high chances you’ll succeed if you’re driven, agile and passionate.
When I look back and reflect on what an amazing journey coffee has taken me on, I can’t help but crack a smile. I have been fortunate enough to make the greatest of friends, travel to the most breathtaking parts of the world and even represent my country on the world stage. Countless lattes made, bins emptied, dishes washed, 5am commutes and dozens of red eye flights. Your career in coffee will always be defined by what you put in.