Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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74 barista magazine service," says Jeremy. "Many students in [the] culinary program are used to—and prefer—working behind the scenes." While global companies like Starbucks have the scale to extend a variety of opportunities across major percentages of their stores, smaller coffee businesses might be wary of the impact that incorporating education and inclusive training on an individual basis will have on their day-to-day operations, especially if the apprentice is more withdrawn than the average outgoing barista. However, it's entirely possible to do so and have it be beneficial for all involved. "There was one student graduate working for Birch for over two years, who initially didn't talk to anyone and was very reluctant to engage with people behind the counter, who has since become quite at ease behind [the counter] and whose coffee skills are in the top 10 percent of our nearly 90 employees," says Paul, who notes that 25 percent of Birch's employees are under age 21, and the average employee age is 25. B E Y O N D B A R W O R K Education in coffee can inspire some in the 16–to-24–year-old demo- graphic to pursue training and employment as coffee professionals, but sometimes work readiness needs to be a separate category of on-the-job education, taught as thoroughly as the skillset required for the position, for younger employees to be able to apply what they've learned. The Brownsville Community Culinary Center (BCCC) in Brooklyn is also at the intersection of coffee, culinary, education, and training. Launched in early 2017, the program balances the emphasis between culinary training and life skills. "We teach African-American history with local chefs; the Amalgamated Bank teaches accounting. The pro- gram is more about life than just culinary. We are teaching the whole person," says executive director Phillip Hoffman. Participants complete extensive on-site culinary training and work in BCCC's full-service kitchen and restaurant in preparation for externships in professional culinary settings throughout New York City. While that mission might seem neat and tidy, the process is not. It involves much trial and error and lots of hands-on tweaking as the program evolves. After BCCC's fi rst group of students completed the program, Phil- lip already knew there was room to improve. "We're pivoting to really increase the degree to which we have to be involved with externship partners," he says. "We're bringing externship partners here and visiting externship sites to see if they're a good fi t for each particular student." Training people of any age in workplace skills and employment readiness is not just about designing a great program, but about tailoring how that program applies to the particular needs, situa- tion, and strengths of each student. If this sounds daunting, that's because it is—just ask any classroom teacher how much every lesson and assignment needs to be differentiated and adapted for each class and learner. "The new nature of the externship is to lead with the question of how we can fi nd the right fi t so the young person will stay," says Phillip. This echoes what Paul of Birch explained, that not everyone who completes a class is suited for front-of-house customer service. The goal is to fi nd ways to identify strengths and weaknesses prior to determining a role for a new, recently trained person. "Part of our work is calibrating young people to the reality of what's to come," Phillip continues. "Because of celebrity chefs on TV, every- one's goal is to open their own place. We want to provide a reasonable

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