By Jade Jennings, National Training & Development Manager
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had baristas asking if they get a certificate for completing one of our barista courses. My heart sinks a little every time, because to those in the industry, we know these certificates don’t really mean much because you can’t simply just ‘become’ a barista after a three hour course. For those wanting to enter into the industry, I can understand why they want this assurance. They want to be able to prove to their potential employer and that they’ve been trained and worth taking a risk on.
We need to change our perception on entering the coffee industry as a barista and start seeing it as an apprenticeship, rather than a tick the box exercise. It’s all about experience!
We, of course, will facilitate the learning in our sessions and set you on the right track to making better coffee, but ultimately, it’s up to YOU and how much you’re willing to put in that will get you the result you want, a job in the most amazing industry there is!
What we want to do is provide a place for these baristas to gain the education they need to feel confident to step behind the machine and make coffee in an interview situation, or better yet, step into a team and work seamlessly behind the bar pumping out coffees.
So, we created our Barista Building Blocks.
INTRODUCTION TO ESPRESSO
Like any structure that needs to stand the test of time, you need a strong foundation – for us, this is our ‘Introduction to Espresso’ class. This covers everything you need to know about making coffee, including:
- Controllable and adaptable variables
- Visual ques
- Taste balance
- Consistency and efficient workflow behind the machine
- Texturing milk
- Pouring techniques
Baristas can choose to join a class of four, where each barista gets their own machine and grinder to put their skills to the test in a two ½ hour course. However, for those wanting to really speed up their training in the hope of securing a job sooner, we recommend a three-hour private class where the trainer will give them one-on-one tips for their skill level to prepare them for entering the workforce.
LEVEL ONE: INTERMEDIATE BARISTA
From here, baristas can move to our ‘Level 1: Intermediate Barista’ course, which also runs as a of group of four or privately. These are aimed at the barista who has access to a machine and is able to practice what they learn. But don’t fret if you don’t as we also hire out our state of the art training facility for barista practise. This course picks up from where ‘Introduction to Espresso’ left off and is designed to take baristas to the next level of their learning by covering:
- Coffee recipes
- How to apply these to a blend and/or single origin
- Correct workflow behind the machine
- Putting it all together
LEVEL 1 ASSESSMENT
The idea is that this course prepares the barista for taking our ‘Level 1 Assessment’ – where you do get a certificate!. We simulate real life scenarios with the intention of testing the barista’s skills when under pressure.
- Each barista gets 10 minutes to dial in their coffee using a grinder they are familiar with
- They then need to make a series of drinks in 10 minutes while being assessed by two judges. Their technical skills are assessed using the World Barista Championship (WBC) standard, as well as a sensory evaluation of their presentation and taste balance.
General hygiene, cleanliness and workflow are all assessed while the barista works out the most efficient way to fulfil six dockets without sacrificing quality.
The pass rate is 80%, so it’s not easy to achieve, and nor should it be. If we don’t set the benchmark high, baristas will be fooled into thinking they’re better than they are and struggle in the real world. It’s only after passing this assessment, that we feel that it’s worth giving the barista our stamp of approval with a certificate. No, it’s not ‘accredited’, but passing this assessment demonstrates a skill set that is easily transferable and will stand up in everyday café service. Attempting the assessment and not passing is still just as valuable as here the barista knows the areas they are good at and the areas they need to work on.
LEVEL TWO: ADVANCED BARISTA
Once the barista has mastered this level they can move onto our ‘Level 2: Advanced Barista’ course, which is perfect for the barista who wants to take their skills to the next level, especially those wanting to compete.
The barista will gain an understanding of the WBC scoresheet and begin the process perfecting four espressos, four milk based coffees and a filter process while developing a presentation ready for our Level 2 assessment.
We also run a number of modules we call ‘add ons’ because they are focused on areas of specialty and complement our standard course. These include ‘Latte Art’, ‘Brewing Fundamentals’, ‘Introduction to Cupping’, and ‘Introduction to Roasting’. The barista or the coffee enthusiast can participate in these as a stand-alone class or pair them with either of our Level 1 or Level 2 courses to gain further knowledge and an area of specialty.
Our Latte Art class focuses purely on pouring techniques and teaching the barista control and repeatability while learning how to pour the following patterns:
- And some rainbow fun!
‘Brewing Fundamentals’, ‘Introduction to Cupping’ and ‘Introduction to Roasting’ are great resources to pair with ‘Level 2: Advanced Barista’ class as the knowledge gained here can assist in our the assessment or for competition preparation.
DEVELOPING A PLAN FOR YOUR SUCCESS – CASE STUDIES
We often work with baristas one-on-one to develop a long term training plan for them depending on their goals, objectives and current situation.
Jonathan Ko made contact with me a couple of years ago. A manager in a Japanese restaurant, Johnathan wanted to purchase Introduction to Espresso, Intermediate Barista and Latte Art… all at once. He wanted to move into becoming a “specialty coffee barista” and in the fastest way possible. I explained the apprenticeship to Jonathan and the best way to tackle this over a few months, rather than over one weekend. I worked closely with Jonathan and gave him tips to work on to help him find a job in specialty coffee. Fast forward a year later, and Jonathan just so happened to land himself a job as a barista in one of our accounts, Espresso Room, and is now about to open up his very own café called Charisma Workshop close to the Victoria Market in Melbourne.
We spoke to Jonathan about his training experience with us.
“When I looked into coffee training schools, there were so many available all with similar structures.
It was the trainers at Veneziano and their experience and knowledge that made me choose to work with them. It’s my dream to serve a coffee and dessert pairing menu where I will need to talk about flavour profiles with customers. Knowing the Veneziano trainers had experience in either competing or judging barista competitions was important to me.
Veneziano’s training is personal and engaging but it was my first latte art session which was the most memorable experience as I got to understand how to control what I wanted to pour.
When it came to choosing a roasting company to supply my own café, it was simple. I liked the training provided by Veneziano and feel that this helps with the consistency of quality we aim to provide to our customers at the café.
While many roasters do provide the general description of the current blend, Veneziano has a more detailed description of the blend composition and flavour profile which suits what I’m wanting to do perfectly with coffee and dessert matching. I need to understand the flavour of my coffee and then create food dishes to complement it.”
Not everyone has the luxury of spacing out their courses however, and need a quick, intensive solution. Hyowon recently travelled all the way from South Korea, to attempt his Level 1 Assessment. Hyowon owns his own café, Maven Espresso, and wanted to come to Melbourne to train as he said we are renowned for the most amazing coffee culture in the world. He wanted to learn the latest in coffee and introduce new coffees to Korea.
“I looked at a few different schools, but Veneziano stood out because of their experience with barista competitions. I closed my café for five days to travel to Melbourne and train with Jade and the team.
The theory was very impressive, especially as we have no coffee textbooks in Korea. It was very helpful to practice and be coached.”
If you’re wanting break into the coffee industry, step up your barista game, or simply delve into the world of specialty coffee, drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you find a course that is right for you. Alternatively, explore in your own time here.