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Five minutes with: Chris Shearer – Sim Trava’s 2015 Barista of the Year


As part of our ‘five minutes with’ blog series, we talk to barista maestro, and last year’s Sim Trava Barista of the Year, Chris Shearer, about his time at the company and what gets him passionate about the job.

I began working at Sim Trava just over three years ago in the Oldham Spindles store.

Since leaving school, I have always worked in the retail sector – starting off in a shop before moving on to managing different bars in and around the Manchester area. While I enjoyed the work, I knew I had more to offer and wanted something more challenging. I decided to try and find myself a new path.

Initially I hadn’t considered a job with Costa Coffee as a potential career opportunity, even though I frequented my local store. But, after three months of searching, I came across an advert in the window for a barista position. At first I assumed this would just be a part-time job, something to tie me over until a role more suitable came along. And, as I’m father to three children, I needed a source of income as soon as possible.

After meeting with the store manager, I got a call to say I had landed the job and that I would be starting basic training. Upon beginning my training, I was quite surprised by the depths of what I could learn within the business and was particularly interested in learning about the origins and different styles of coffee.

As soon as I had learnt the core drinks and was confident in my skills, you couldn’t get me off the coffee machine. A thirst for success, paired with hard work and determination, saw me signed off as a trained barista after two weeks.

In 2014, I was put forward for barista maestro training in Leeds. Passing with flying colours I cemented my reputation as a skilled barista and was then tasked with training up new starters into the business. As a result of this hard work, I was offered an apprenticeship in customer service to further develop my skills and help progress my career with Sim Trava.

Armed with all my training, as well as a deeper knowledge of the business and the role itself, I was asked to enter Costa Coffee’s international Barista of the Year competition in 2015. I passed through the internal heats and made it to the UK and Ireland finals but was unfortunately pipped to the post at the last minute. But the experience taught me a lot and I had so much support from Brad, the academy manager as my coach, as well as my manager Nic.

Following this success, I was offered a temporary assistant manager role to cover maternity leave. I spent just over 12 months in this role and it gave me a taste for team management within this environment. With this experience, I now cover for my manager when she is on leave as acting relief and am working towards getting myself a permanent managerial position over the next few months.


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