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Why You Should Consider Barista Skills Training to SCA Standard

  • 4 min read

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) offers a certified coffee skills training programme for Baristas, helping to improve and standardise coffee-making skills across the hospitality industry.

We are pleased to announce that our Head of Training & Talent, Jenny McDonough, has recently qualified as an Authorised SCA Trainer (AST) and will be putting together a programme of SCA certified courses which will be run from Owens' training facility at The Roastery. 

Authorised SCA Trainer Jenny McDonough at Owens Coffee

Below, we speak to Jenny about why she thinks that these courses will help to improve Barista Skills in Devon and the wider South West:

Why is barista training important? 

In our experience, barista skills are consistently undervalued. Hospitality staff are just expected to 'make the coffee' and businesses don't invest in the kind of training that makes their product stand out. A key element for an outstanding coffee service is in making coffee really well, every time. As a customer, there is nothing worse than enjoying a great coffee from your independent coffee shop one day and then going back and having a poorly made drink.

Can barista training really make the difference between a great coffee and a poor coffee? 

Yes, absolutely! Baristas are the final key ingredient to providing customers with really good coffee. Many customers don't realise that you can have the same coffee beans and the same espresso machine, but that when two different people make the coffees and are trained at different levels, you can end up with different quality pours. You can even end up with one person making different coffee every time if they aren't trained in making their coffee consistent. When I walk into a coffee shop, I can tell if I want to order a coffee just by listening to the barista making the drinks. By hearing them doing this, I will instantly know if I will order a coffee or drink an orange juice instead! 

Tell us about your background. How did you get to become the Head of Coffee & Talent? 

I was serving coffee when I first left education, which took me travelling in Australia. The thriving Aussie coffee culture meant that I learned a lot about coffee during my travels and I have always enjoyed the learning process and taking on the challenge of self-improvement. When I came back to the UK, I was set on developing my career in hospitality. This took me into further education where I became a lecturer in hospitality and now I'm working as the Head of Coffee & Talent at The Roastery, which means I'm responsible for the quality of our coffee, as well as developing training programmes for our trade customers and for coffee enthusiasts.

Why did you become an Authorised SCA Trainer?

I am passionate about coffee and also about the people involved in coffee - many people who are making coffee every day don't even consider themselves as a 'barista'. They may not have even heard this word used to describe what they do as they may have been hired as 'waiting staff' or similar. In my own time and especially in the South West, I've been referred to as 'just a waitress' from those around me. But if I'm making cocktails and doing it really well, I'm a mixologist. If I know a lot about wine and I've done courses in this area, I am a 'sommelier'. I want baristas to be seen as the professionals they are and for investment to be made into their skills and ongoing training needs. 

I believe that the SCA accreditations set the bar for the industry and we wanted to be able to offer the certification to our trade customers and to any individual who wants to develop their own career in hospitality. 

Why should skilled baristas gain the SCA qualifications? 

SCA Barista Skillsare internationally recognised and provide a standard for baristas to aim for. Baristas may already be highly experienced at what they do, but by having a certifying body recognise those skills, this elevates professionalism for everyone involved in serving great coffee. Having this on your CV automatically sets you apart in the job market. Before you even demonstrate your coffee skills, businesses can be confident that your are trained to a level that will keep bringing their customers back and that makes you a valued member of the team. From providing a way to support you financially as you travel the world, to focusing on a hospitality career path that could potentially even see you taking part in Barista Championships, the SCA barista skills programme will open doors and give you improved opportunities. 

Why should businesses invest in SCA qualifications for their team members? 

If a business is offering to train their teams to gain SCA certified qualifications, this will attract a higher quality of staff. Baristas with a passion for coffee will understand that the business advertising for their services sees them as professional and is prepared to invest in their personal development, whilst existing team members will feel valued and proud of the service they provide. Recruiting in the hospitality industry is becoming increasingly difficult and more competitive and offering opportunity is always going to be attractive to really good people. As well as that, businesses will find that the consistency of their coffee offer will improve, that word of mouth will escalate and that demand for their coffee will grow, together with repeat customer sales. 

How will you be running SCA Barista Skills Courses in the South West? 

We will initially be launching in 2024 with an SCA Barista Skills Foundation Course in July for up to 4 people at The Roastery in Devon, and another later this year. That will run as a day course. Then we'll run a 2-day SCA Barista Skills Intermediate Course for those who have already gained the Foundation Skills course and/or for more experienced baristas. 

If businesses across the South West would like me to train their teams at their place of work, I can visit them on site. I'm really looking forward to helping more baristas raise the standard of great coffee throughout the region!

Would you like to learn more about the SCA Barista Courses available from Owens Coffee? Please enter your information below. 



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