The Starbucks Training Program – Why it is So Good!

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.


Starbucks has been very successful. The Starbucks Training Program is one of the key reasons why. Below are a few facts:

  • Starbucks has grown by an average of two stores per day for the last 27 years,
  • Starbucks plan to add 1,000 stores in China alone next year,
  • Starbucks spends more on employee healthcare than coffee beans, and…
  • Starbucks stock is worth over 23x what it sold for in 1992.

They’ve done good, real good!

Why? Great people and the amazing Starbucks Training Program!

(Starbucks also helps their baristas respond well to angry customers by training them in Emotional Intelligence. Learn more about how they do it here.)

Keep reading to find out how Starbucks trains its partners to deliver an amazing experience every time.

Starbucks Training Program

From the beginning, Starbucks recognized the value of the customer experience.

Without a great experience, why would anyone pay that much for coffee?

That experience is provided each and every day by its more than 200,000 employees (Starbucks calls them partners).

How does Starbucks ensure an excellent experience every time a customer interacts with one of their partners?

Great people & an incredible training program!

Below are some of the highlights of the Starbucks training program that occur within the first 4 weeks of a new employee’s tenure. Know that their training is always changing, always evolving and always improving.


First Shift with a Store Manager or Learning Coach

New partners are never given the opportunity to make mistakes when they are new to their job. They are always with a store manager or a learning coach as they learn the ropes.

Starbucks follows a Tell, Show, Do process. Tell is what baristas learn in the training. Show is when the Learning Coach shows them exactly how to do something and Do is when the barista does the action with the coach watching to assist, train and praise.

Are all of your new employees given a coach?


24 Hours of Classroom Learning

Known as the “Starbucks Experience”, this training includes an overview of the company’s history and culture and Starbucks’ strong social responsibility programs. Then new partners are introduced to the coffee itself, where it is grown, how it is harvested and roasted and how Starbucks treats its farmers.

Starbucks’ new partners know from the beginning that they are not just working for another corporate giant focused solely on the bottom line. They know they are working for something bigger, an organization that gives back.

This training includes self-guided booklets (like we all use), but the Learning Coach always checks in with the new partner at the end of each module.


Training Program Tools to Keep it Fun

Starbucks uses tools like “Drink Dice” that trainees roll and the dice  come up with a size, iced or hot, a beverage, a syrup, decaf or regular and the new barista must determine how to write, say (Starbucks has their own language) and create that particular combination.

Clear glass Cappuccino Training Cups are used to help baristas learn how to pour the perfect cappuccino and latte. By putting a shot of raspberry syrup in the bottom of the milk tumbler (used for steaming the milk), the milk is tinted pink when poured. The perfect cappuccino is fifty/fifty milk and foam. This tool allowed baristas to practice their pours to perfection with a visual aid.

Green Apron Book – a small booklet meant to fit in the pocket of a barista’s apron. It outlines the Five Ways of Being (Be Genuine, be Considerate, Be Welcoming, Be Knowledgeable and Be Involved). The outline for Customer Service was Connect, Discover and Respond.

At the end of all the training the new baristas must pass a certification exam on what they learned. Training continues throughout a partner’s career for each step up the ladder in the organization.

One of the coolest things I’ve learned about Starbucks training is how they teach Emotional Intelligence. We covered that in another blog.

How can you take these lessons and implement them in your organization, in how you onboard new partners and how you train?

What great tips/tools do you use now that others could learn from? Please write them in the comments section below!

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