A Barista's Life for Me

Having not gotten my hands on a portafilter in a while, I wondered if training new staff would suddenly be insurmountable. Despite being off the floor for the past nearly three weeks, I saw no reason I should be unable to keep up with initiating eager baristi into the coffee club, and we it was high time for Carrie to be welcomed into the family.

Well, I don't know how well I did, but I can tell you, this girl is dynamite.

Within minutes of the whole dose-tamp-extract spiel, this'n was pulling beautiful, well-rounded, syrupy shots. She's had several years experience (at Small World Coffee and at Oren's Daily Roast), and is so instinctual about the skills and flavors and composition. Awesome!

A Good Dose of Carrie

My time with Carrie also reminded me of my favorite things about training—most of which have very little to do with coffee itself.

I mean, I love coffee; I love drinking it, I love learning about it, I love talking about it, I love teaching it. But even more than that? More than doing temperature comparisons, more than weighing portafilter baskets, more than talking about chocolate or red berry essences, I love the people of this business.

This is my full-time job; I am paid to make espresso five days a week. This is not the full-time job of most of my staff, and that makes a major difference in the way they look at, approach and understand their coffee careers. It's as important for me to be familiar with my colleagues' other lives as it is for them to be familiar with this life, the one in the store.

Well, Carrie's a student, working towards a career as a school counselor. She's in this biz because she likes it, because it gives her a chance to be social, and because she's dedicated to the product, but school and her future are her priorities, and that's wonderful.

I'm not afraid of baristi who have outside passions—I am thrilled by it. Let coffee color their lives, not consume it—and let us be sympathetic of our colleague's outside pursuits. This is one of the greatest lessons this job has taught me, and I couldn't be more excited to live it every day.

Bird's Eye Tamp

Coming up next time: Four Joes, one Barista Guild Jam. Is the world ready? Probably not!