Audio Cafe 013: Jonathon Sepulveda, Spotting or Becoming a Barista with Potential

Always a pleasure to connect with people in the industry that I respect and have something to share with other up-and-coming coffee professionals.

Jonathon Sepulveda

Chatting with Jonathon left me these take-aways:

  • You have to tie in your culture into the level of quality you expect. Third wave cafes can be guilty of focusing on quality of coffee but they don’t always starting with core culture.
  • Sugar is good. You can’t make a biscuit without sugar and salt. These pull out the ¬†flavors and help us to appreciate the balance. Also sugar and cream can be highlights. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s drinking some of the coffee that was out there in the marketplace was indeed a challenge. Now so many locations have amazing coffee like an Ethiopian that tastes like blueberries and they know how to brew it.
  • Consumers/customers get trained to drink coffee a certain way. If we teach them that they need to put sugar in it, then we need to teach them they don’t need to put sugar in it anymore.
  • So many people are brewing beer with coffee in it. Some ‘die hard’ baristas don’t like sugar in their coffee but then they love coffee in beer, is there a disconnect there?
  • Jonathon: How was I able to make coffee a career was by “Understanding the diversity of coffee and all the groups it touches.” See how he is focusing on the coffee as the vehicle to touch someone’s day, emotions and senses? What that looks like is getting a cafe’s quality up, or expanding their menu offerings so it resonates with customers.
  • We all want to be barista-rock-stars. And you can get to that level, customers will tell you that and you will see your talent reflected in their happiness.
  • If you are more meticulous with your process you will see your quality improve. Consistency day-to-day.
  • Allow your baristas to have a path to move up. Whether that’s internal competitions or different job titles. Give them avenues for success and watch your great baristas walk down that path.
  • How do you learn what tastes good? You experiment and you try to figure it out on your own. Also learn how to take apart a machine and clean it out. That is a skill you’ll use as a barista. Is your barista skill at 100% or not? You need to know how to take care of your tools. When was the last time you cleaned the inside lid of your ice maker?
  • How are you showing your value to the owner or manager of your cafe? you can maintain these crazy expensive machines. You can come up with new specials that are incredible tasting and also have a nice margin of profitability. First build on earning more trust, then a raise will follow.

Which points were your favorite?