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10 Tips for Better Beverage Training

Beverage education is a continuing process that pays off big. Learn how to get the most from your staff through training.

To keep your beverage program flowing smoothly requires a staff that’s both skillful and knowledgeable. After all, these days the beverage category, like food, is undergoing rapid change with new products added all the time thanks to social media, global influences, and other trends. In fact, two in three operators now significantly update their menus on a quarterly basis.1 

One way to ensure your staff has the skills and knowledge to keep things flowing smoothly is through training and education. A team that knows how to prepare beverages quickly and confidently will help keep your customers—and your team—happy. After all, most workers want to expand their skills and knowledge, and that’s important in a time when good workers are hard to find.

Here are some tips for designing a beverage training program that both your customers, and your employees, will appreciate.

  1. Assign mentors. You probably have a few veteran staffers who can teach new hires how to make a fantastic Arnold Palmer or Flat White coffee. Create a mentoring program where new team members can shadow them and learn how it’s done.
  2. Create a training manual. Capture your establishment’s beverage knowledge by recording it in a handbook. It will be a go-to resource for staff, both new and old, whenever they need to make a new beverage or brush up on a classic.
  3. Schedule training days. Certain beverages need more preparation than others. Learning how to prepare a cold brew coffee or a refreshing mocktail like it’s second nature takes observation and repeat practice. 
  4. Hold tastings. Have the staff taste the iced teas, lemonades, and coffees on your menu. Include sweeteners and whiteners so they get familiar with how different add-ons enhance these beverages.
  5. Gamify education. Hold contests with special rewards to test beverage knowledge or preparation skills. Remember to make it light and fun, you don’t want to discourage slower learners.
  6. Move it online. Create an app or web portal with beverage information such as recipes and how-to videos. It allows your team to learn at their own pace or refresh their skills in a pinch.  
  7. Create checklists. Signage that reminds staffers to follow certain steps when preparing and serving beverages is an easy way to help ensure consistent quality. Be sure to include rules on food safety. For example, popular drinks like cold brew require unique safety practices.2
  8. Encourage career growth. Create a positive work environment and improve employee retention by supporting your staff in furthering their skills. There are many organizations that provide courses, including certifications, for various beverages. Consider assisting with financial support.
  9. Practice serving scenarios. Role-playing is a great way to gain experience upselling new menu or food pairing options. It also helps to familiarize staff with the many add-ons such as sweeteners and new on-trend additions like plant-based creamers.
  10. Host beverage discovery sessions. Set aside a few hours for everyone to learn about the newest beverage on your menu. Invite special guests, such as salespeople or brand ambassadors who have a deep well of knowledge about their products, including ingredients and back stories.

Sources: 1. Datassential, Menu Innovation (May 2023). 2. Perfect Daily Grind, “New Study on Cold Brew Food Safety: Why Coffee Shops Should Pay Attention” (February 22, 2024).

The information provided is based on a general industry overview and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique, and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.

iced teas and lemonade in glasses on table

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