Community of Practice Workshops: Coffee Learning for All

2019 is here and we are ready to continue the coffee journey with learning programs offered at our Greenville, SC specialty coffee office. We’ve got lots of great new things to roll out this year, starting with a classic concept in adult learning that puts participants at the center: Communities of Practice.Brady Butler facilitating a session of the Cafe Owner-Barista Community of Practice workshop in at the Greenville Learning Lab in December.

Coffee is our passion, but it is also our livelihood. When we gather together to learn about coffee and to further our collective professional development, we are not doing it just to pass a test: we’re in it to take something meaningful back to our workplaces and to build businesses that are responsible, sustainable, profitable, inclusive, and forces for positivity in the communities where we live.

Formal, prescribed curricula are one-size-fits-all and not necessarily designed to help a business accomplish specific goals for which training/education is meant to help achieve. Learning must fulfill a business need and add value, which is why we decided the format of Communities of Practice would be helpful for everyone.

A Community of Practice is the term for a group of professionals working in a given field who convene to discuss and explore topics and concerns specific to their job roles. These gatherings drive creative solutions that are energizing for individuals, beneficial to businesses and useful for the industry. Communities of Practice are facilitated by professionals who are recognized leaders in their field and believe collaboration and learning with other practitioners will lead to success and advancement for everyone.Participants complete sensory development exercises during the Community of Practice.

The leaders facilitate sessions directly related to the capacities we all need to do our jobs well and thrive at work, and these sessions are followed by roundtable discussions that draw on participants’ needs and talents. The conversations are an opportunity to troubleshoot common problems and gain community insight into overcoming challenges by sharing what has worked, passing along tools for success, and even developing new standards or best practices during the meeting.

Our first Community of Practice: Café Manager and Barista Workshop was held in December and led by Lem Butler, Brady Butler, Sara Frinak and Ally’s Director of Learning, Ildi Revi. We have our second annual gathering for this community scheduled for the last weekend in December this year, too.

In 2019, there are several exciting Communities of Practice on deck. This year Ally will host the 13th annual SERC, Southeastern Roasters Consortium March 22–23, as a Roasters Community of Practice. Food safety and manufacturing are increasingly important to specialty coffee, and we believe the best way to keep coffee safe and enjoyable for our clients is to come together as a community and draft the best practices and define job competencies that will help this new category evolve. In November, the Cold Brew Community of Practice for those manufacturing any form of cold brew will explore topics from food safety to freshness and flavor preservation.Lem Butler and Brady Bulter: facilitators of Community of Practice sessions are also participants and colleague of all levels of experience learn from and alongside each other.

Another community that we want to support is those involved in the education/training/learning work at their companies, particularly wholesale roaster trainers who train their customers on coffee skills. The Leaders of Learning Community of Practice will take place May 29–30, after Ildi comes back from the Association from Talent Development world expo in Washington, DC. She will share insights from the many sessions and presentations she’ll be attending there and help us apply ideas to our industry. Ally has a number of other learning opportunities throughout the year (Q-Arabica, Q-Processing, and more)!

Questions? Comments? We welcome your insight and would love to meet you and welcome you with Southern hospitality to our Greenville lab. Check out this guide to visiting Greenville, and contact us with any suggestions for Communities of Practice and things you would like to learn. This is set to be a great year. Join us!

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