Thursday, February 25, 2010

"It Was A Good Hang"

John with Roya, his sweetheart of 30 years at Clipper Mill by the tree he planted in memory of his mother, Sept. 2007

A dear friend passed away tonight after a seven month battle with cancer.

John, you will be sorely missed.

ph: Barista Examinations

Jeremy demonstrating a smooth and controlled command of our craft.

Things are getting a bit tense around here as it's Exam Week at project hampden. After nearly four months of training, it's time to see who's got the chops to remain and who's going to fall to the wayside.

But quite frankly - if, after four months, you don't have it, you don't deserve to be here.

The criteria for the examination is simple: know the menu and demonstrate how to prepare any and every menu item - along with knowing and demonstrating how to prep all the mise and syrups. Essentially, you need to demonstrate to me what the girls in Towson do on a day-in, day-out basis.

A small sample of the drinks prepared.

On the official scoresheets for the individual examinees, we're looking at whether or not they accomplished certain tasks in the execution of each item. How long did they take to prepare and serve that item? Did they follow established procedures? Did they adhere to correct brew times and methodology? Can they defend their choices in execution? Do they know how to prepare a chocolate ganache? Or vanilla latte? How well can they cope with pressure? Can they make changes to an order "on the fly"?

But, most importantly: do I think they can handle the standards I have set for them? Do I think they have the chops? Can I see them representing us? Do I believe that they can be amongst the top baristas in America? Even if they make mistakes, do I believe in them and their ability to improve? In the end, it is my belief in these people and my decision alone.

All along, I have believed in this group of people and they have stepped up to prove themselves. However, that is not to say that all of them made it. Some of them decided to decline the opportunity to test in the examination and dropped out of the program. A shame, but not surprising.

Note to Baltimore coffee shop owners: there's a couple of people out there with a solid base of coffee knowledge and experience that might fit better into your program than with ours. If they come your way, you'd be stupid not to hire them.

Meanwhile, it's back to the examinations which conclude on Monday, March 1st.