Baristas share an unmatched passion for their work
However, many baristas struggle to identify a career path within the specialty coffee industry
Staffing and careers are key issues for the industry
In early 2016 United Baristas gathered some of the best operators in specialty coffee to a Roundtable to explore challenges when building a team. We picked this topic out of a desire to be useful: a dozen business owners and managers with whom we have personal connections were asked what the single greatest challenge was facing their business, the universal response was building the right team.
The Roundtable highlighted a number of challenges when recruiting, retaining and training a team that would drive business growth and profitability. Many businesses reported that they had struggled to internally promote people and had open vacancies in key areas such as shop management, general management, and operations as well as administrative and support roles. In short, the industry had been good at attracting people into the industry, and less good at seeing them grow.
United Baristas noted at the time that many businesses operating within the specialty coffee sector were primarily recruiting for cultural fit, rather than hard skills, which exacerbated the problem. Following the Roundtable we published a summary and we have been told first hand that a number of businesses have subsequently updated their recruitment and training practices following the Roundtable; however, perhaps the greatest outcome of the Roundtable was the more open dialogue about staffing it instigated.
Exploring our aspirations
Over the subsequent months United Baristas ran some small insight projects to better understand the aspirations, opportunities and frustrations baristas faced when building a career in coffee. This work highlighted that many people who had worked in the sector for several years had a passion for the industry but were uncertain about what career opportunities existed and consequently how they might best pursue a career. At a certain point this uncertainty tips over into frustration and we are concerned that a steady stream of skilled and talented people are leaving the sector. While potentially traumatic for the concerned individuals, this is devastating for an industry that is struggling to fill roles that offer the very career prospects many people are looking for.
In December 2016 United Baristas ran a Roundtable with a dozen leading talents to hear their experiences and understand the challenges they faced. We reported some of the insights following the Roundtable on our blog as well as pointing out some of the contrasts with the first Roundtable. We used this Roundtable to pilot a format which would allow us to gain nationwide insights into coffee careers over 2017. The first step in tackling a critical issue is to get the data to actually see what’s happening. The second step is to empower people to make informed decisions. Barista Life 2017 is both a insight project to understand what’s happening and a tool for baristas to advance their careers.
Barista Life is about identifying what opportunities do exist as well as better understanding the challenges within the industry.
Barista Life 2017
This spring and summer United Baristas have partnered with espresso machine manufacturers La Marzocco and equipment parts supplier Espresso Solutions to meet with baristas up and down the country at a series of Roundtables. Registrations to attend the Roundtables are now open. Every barista has a story, and if you share that story with us we can combine your experiences and insights to report on where the industry is at – and what you can do to advance your career.
We are also running the Barista Life Survey to gain a different set of insights. If you work in coffee, complete the survey now. United Baristas will then crunch the data and insights to produce a set of industry findings and communicate a variety of potential career paths. Barista Life is open to everyone in the coffee industry – and will benefit everyone in the coffee industry.
So what are you waiting for? Get Started