In the short answer: yes.
I mean, it was going to happen at some point wasn’t it? With the exponential rate at which speciality coffee shops have been opening in London, compared to the rate at which a person develops the ‘barista’ skill, it’s quite the no-brainer that coffee shop managers would begin to struggle in sourcing their fully qualified team.
I was recently speaking to various owners and managers of coffee shops in London because they all come to me for the same reason: if I can forward them details of barista friends of mine who are looking for jobs. I had to decline this from all several of these people because, well quite frankly, none of my said ‘Barista Friends’ are actually available to hire.
When the speciality coffee industry began to emerge, people from oversees paved the way in staffing solutions. I mean, to this day, the beauty of the industry is the wide variety of people who cross paths during their barista career. However, as the industry became cemented, more and more of the British came and learned the skill.
But this is my theory: this was a good 3-5 years ago for most. You know, when this speciality coffee industry was still making big waves and people were excited to be a part of it. People, like myself as an example, were a part of it because of their desire to work in something which I thoroughly enjoyed whilst studying. However, like many people in a similar situation to myself, that barista career has now ended to pursue other chosen paths.
So why don’t more people stay as baristas? Well, not speaking for other countries, but let’s be frank: you aren’t paid well in the London industry. That’s a fact. I’ve heard great things of our Australia neighbours where this can legitimately be a career, but over here not so much. I mean, there are examples where this works, but for someone who wasn’t overjoyed at the idea of going into competing there wasn’t many paths for me to go forward.
Only a small amount of coffee shops will hire people who are not already trained up - which I can entirely understand. Unless there’s a ‘Front of House’ position available (which definitely doesn’t guarantee the time for you to develop your skill), people who wish to develop their skills are finding it harder than ever to break into the industry.
Just personally, it would be great for somewhere to arise which gave budding baristas a chance to develop and perfect their skills, but without the hefty price tag (nor stress!) of the SCA courses. Just something which helped them break into the industry.
What about you guys and gals? Any thoughts on how the coffee industry can help themselves here and provide low-level training for the new wave baristas out there? After all, they’ll be kicking themselves pretty soon if they don’t.