Think of all the Baristas who changed our lives over the years. All those amazing competitors, innovators, and speed demons of service who were somehow able to be accurate and make amazing coffee while making your day brighter.
Now, think about how many of them are giving that special experience to the public. How many of them can you still go get coffee from? I would argue that most of the people who come to mind can't be found behind the bar very regularly.
I believe it's because many companies simply don't support or respect the position of Barista.
Baristas make coffee. The product you are selling. The basis of your entire business and they are likely amongst the lowest paid employees you have on staff. In most cases they don't have a career path that will ever sustain them unless they plan to move out of the coffee making jobs and more into the managerial/operational focused jobs. Which sometimes happens all by itself if said companies grow quickly and end up pulling all talent from store level to perform other operations.
This can hurt because the ability to grow successfully is based upon understanding how to operate at the cafe level as a barista. In this craft, that takes time and role models...it can't be solely reliant on systems. When these people move on in large amounts the craft suffers.
Am I wrong to think that perhaps we restructure our business model to make the role of the barista a harder to earn, more sought after position with more responsibilities?
Perhaps, even have less "Baristas" in our companies?
Fäviken, a restaurant in Sweden which is rated the 19th best place to eat on planet earth, has adapted to an idea similar to this.
The pass is typically where the head chef would stand and expedite, but Chef Magnus Nilsson has reimagined the workplace. He believes the best chefs should be producing the things that make the plates special, thus leading by example and showing newer staff how to execute. The ones producing are also the ones with the most responsibility. This creates an amazing team dynamic where the load is shared rather than falling on a Head Chef or Manager specifically.
So, every apprentice gets to learn from a professional by both being trained in a hands on environment but also being able to study and watch movements in action. True craftsmanship. Not to mention multiple cooking styles offered through a singular vision. Truly inspiring.
So, what I am really saying up is this: We basically allow the world to view being a Barista as the job to have before you become a professional in the coffee world. It's not really respected as much as it potentially should be and it's not utilized or leveraged in the workplace as much as it could be.
I know you could argue that the pay structure of your company wouldn't necessarily support that. I would argue that that isn't true - I would say it would take an out of the box approach and potentially harder work. But true artistry takes work, and at the end of the day if we are trying to do what's best for our craft it'll be worth it.