Typica

Training Available

One of the most recent changes to this site is that there are a couple of documents in the new Documentation section. One of these is an updated Frequently Asked Questions document which has some new questions that weren't asked frequently when the version of this on the old project site was written but are frequently asked now. Contrary to expectations, having a question in the FAQ document doesn't stop people from asking, but that's not a problem for one of the newer questions: "Is training available?"

To be clear, hardly anybody seriously wants (to pay for) training on Typica specifically. The program just isn't that hard to figure out, though I'd certainly be willing to do sessions that were more focused on Typica if a client wanted to pay for that. The requests that I get are usually from people who want help with harder issues. I don't do these jobs very often. I have my own shop to run. I've just been doing this sort of thing long enough that I've done a lot of things like this. I've been asked to do a fairly broad range of work over the years so I thought people might be interested in learning more about what the people calling me in ask for, though this will be somewhat vague as often clients do not want it known that they're bringing in an outside expert and I make a point of respecting their privacy.

First, I travel. Sometimes I'm asked about running training sessions at my own shop but so much of the space there is multi-purpose and it's a busy retail and café environment so it's difficult to arrange a good time for training people outside of the company in any kind of depth. Maybe some day I'll expand to a larger roasting facility and have the ability to put in a dedicated training space, but for now I don't think running these sessions at my shop is a good idea and why do you want to visit Racine, anyway? This means the client covers transportation (usually a flight out of Milwaukee or Chicago, sometimes transportation to and from the airport at the destination, and sometimes the cost of an appropriate visa if the client is outside of the United States) and lodging. I usually don't ask for it, but often the client also covers food by having lunch delivered and taking me out for dinner. Clients outside of the United States also tend to offer to schedule an extra one day to one week to show me around the area as a tourist, which is always appreciated, usually accepted, but never expected. There's also a fee for my time and possibly materials, so it's never cheap but hopefully the value is good.

How things work from there depend on what the client wants, but it usually falls into one of a few categories. The most common requests are for the least formal offering. Surprisingly (to me), some people will bring me in, show me around their facilities, talk about projects they're working on, and just pick my brain for a few days with nothing formal planned. Often that's because they're planning on doing something similar to something that I've done in the past and want to know what questions they should be asking and what problems they should be watching for. I also put into this category the jobs where I show up, taste things (sometimes as part of a panel), and let the client know what I think. Often these kinds of requests come from coffee producing cooperatives that are developing more technical capabilities or from farms that have started pursuing a vertical integration strategy.

The next most common sort of request comes from financial backers of new but larger roasting operations, usually in emerging markets where the existing quality of coffee available is poor. They want to bring in someone who can help with their initial product offering, someone who can establish operational procedures, and someone who can train the higher level staff who will in turn be responsible for ongoing product development and training of production line staff. In other words, I'm training trainers. Often that means working along side the people I'm training to get operations up and running, but doing that in a way where I'm leaving the facility as self sufficient as I can get it in the time I have, and hopefully with leadership having a good idea of things they can work toward on their own or where it might be beneficial to seek additional training for key personnel and who they should go to for that. Sometimes these jobs involve telling the money people that they have wildly inaccurate notions of how the coffee industry works and what they're telling me about the sort of business they want to have and how they want to run that are fundamentally incompatible with each other. It's better to get a reality check like that before throwing good money after bad and it's usually possible to refine expectations or come up with a better plan.

Finally there are the more formal workshops. These requests tend to come from more established but still small companies that have recognized areas where they could use some outside help developing important skills. That might mean helping people get better at cupping or understanding some of the more subtle aspects of coffee roasting. When people are asking for things like this, it's often a clue that I should adapt those workshops into YouTube videos. Indeed, the Evaluating Coffee with Purpose video series that I've been working on lately is being adapted from these workshops. I'll also group into this one international trade events or SCAA certified labs (domestic or foreign) that want to have SCAA classes. As a specialized instructor I'm able to teach those classes at approved venues. The labs usually want full tracks over a 3 day to 2 week period and I've taught the Golden Cup Technician program, Roasters Guild levels 1 and 2, and I've been asked to teach the new Coffee Buyer classes a couple times in 2017. When people ask about the Barista Guild classes, though, I'll usually recommend someone else as I haven't done the examiner training to deliver the practical tests for those. Also, my latté art is terrible. Trade events tend to want fewer classes and sometimes that involves coordinating things behind the scenes and making sure things are prepared for other instructors who are experts and more than qualified to teach the classes but may be less familiar with all of the moving parts behind the scenes in some of those classes. Having another set of eyes on things can be useful.

I've already started to schedule things for 2017. If you're interested in bringing me in for training, please feel free to contact me by email, but only after knowing approximately when and for how long you'd like to have me and only after you know what you want me there for. It happens too often that a request will come in and when I ask for basic details like that they go silent and never get back to me. That just means you're wasting my time and yours, so serious inquiries only, please.