Hot, fast, and with a smile. For most coffee customers, that’s enough to please. Even baristas at Capitol Hill’s most established coffeehouses say its a baseline level of service most people could deliver. But if you want to join the ranks of career baristas who are pressing the limits on coffee culture, you’ll need to take an obsessive, practically academic approach to the craft of coffee.
This week, Seattle invaded New York City for Coffee Fest 2014. The Seattle-based festival started “before coffee was hot” in 1992 and continues to be among the nation’s top coffee trade shows. So what does it take to land a barista job on Capitol Hill (and perhaps one day pull “America’s Best Espresso” at Coffee Fest?). Most baristas and managers we spoke to said it all comes back to customer service.
“If you make a good cup of coffee with bad service, who cares,” said Bauhaus owner Joel Radin. Like other managers, Radin said previous coffee experience isn’t a requirement landing a job at Capitol Hill’s most venerated shops. Demonstrating grace under pressure is a skill in much higher demand. Continue reading