5 Key Training Principles For Quality Coffee Service


Effective training is critical to make your specialty coffee program a success.

By Anne Nylander

Current coffee trends point to an ever-increasing demand in product quality.

Excellent customer service, preparation skills, and organization are rapidly becoming minimum expectations in the café environment.

As coffee quality becomes increasingly important in coffee service, training becomes a critical component of a company’s long-term success. High-quality skills and behavior training remain as one of the industry’s proven methods for increased customer satisfaction and sales growth.

When it comes to training, there are several factors that can impact a trainer’s successes or failures.

In her 2018 workbook, Specialty Coffee Training Consultant Anne Nylander tackles the key training principles organization leaders and educators will need in order to make their program a success.

Here, we briefly cover five of the principles discussed in the book:

1. Learning About Learners

There are some simple truths about how all adult students learn.

First and foremost – adults believe they should be treated like adults in any learning environment, and that any learning should be immediately practical and relevant to them.

This is particularly important to realize as a trainer, when often training can “default” into a format that reminds everyone too much of a childhood classroom environment. When instructing adults, it’s critical to emphasize the students’ prior knowledge, character, and value within the classroom, while simultaneously connecting and demonstrating new areas of knowledge and skill.

In addition, incorporating information delivery in multiple formats and styles increases interest and retention among students.

Ensure that training materials include ways in which all students can see, hear, and do what they are learning, so that trainers can balance their delivery equally across learning styles and monitor and measure a student’s attention and application.


2. Creating Learning Goals and Outcomes

Frequently training departments create training programs and agendas within their own silos, which can be to their detriment.

When creating a company’s learning goals, it’s truly important to collect and include input and feedback from all stakeholders in the business. The goals will ultimately become what everyone in the company can agree are the core knowledge, skills, and attitudes the team hopes to impart upon its staff.

By working together collectively with educators, managers, operators, and company leaders, trainers can more effectively develop a highly functional educational program that suits the needs of all the relevant stakeholders. This will also increase buy-in and adoption as the program launches and runs within the business.

3. Training Roles

The trainer should be focusing on delivering information in a way that is retained, used, and implemented – failings on the part of the student should also result in self-reflection for the trainer on how to adjust, improve, and revisited in future trainings.

A trainer can significantly improve their own performance by focusing on improving areas of performance within their in-classroom trainer roles.

For every class experience, there are three primary roles a trainer should work within as they conduct a given course: the administrator, the trainer, and the facilitator:

  • The purpose of the administrator role is to keep the classroom organized, on time, and on topic.
  • The purpose of the trainer role is to teach content and make sure students can apply and demonstrate knowledge and skill outcomes.
  • The facilitator role is responsible for guiding and encouraging the discovery of new knowledge, skill, and application from within the student.


4. Training Skills

In addition to the more general training roles, there are specific training skills all trainers can utilize within the classroom.

These skills include:

  • Time management
  • Personal presentation
  • Fostering engagement and participation
  • Actively listening

…and more.

Honing these skills in the training environment can not only increase the quality of trainings, but can also create a deep personal development for the trainer. Trainers become more organized, confident, and professional the more they master their training skills, even in other areas of work and life.

5. Measuring & Tracking Performance

It’s critical to measure your students’ skills, and communicate effectively and transparently about them, as soon as learning begins.  Because adult learners are purposeful and results-oriented, they want to know exactly how well they’re performing.

All instructors will want to create a system of communication that objectively states the status of students’ learned skills. That increases the team’s ability to monitor and improve the student’s performance outside of the classroom. Students, managers, fellow trainers, and peers can all become part of the conversation about continued development while they perform their work.

In conclusion, almost all coffee businesses can continue to improve their training principles, systems, and strategies.

This is a summary, and hopefully a start, to a renewed effort to building effective trainers and training programs within the coffee business.

To learn more, start with Anne F. Nylander’s Training Principles for Specialty Coffee ProfessionalsNCA members receive a $5 discount on the workbook.


Looking to grow your team or discover new professional opportunities? Check out the NCA Coffee Career Center.


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