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Research shows we're headed for barista glut

Research shows we are approaching an oversupply of baristas.
Research shows we are approaching an oversupply of baristas. Rob Wright

THE working day wouldn't be the same without it for many of us.

It's that morning hit of caffeine that serves to clear out the cognitive cobwebs that have congregated since downing the last coffee.

It becomes part of the daily routine, like checking emails and taking lunch late to avoid that strange guy from accounts.

If research is correct (and let's face it, when isn't it?), demand for coffee will outstrip supply sometime in the not too distant future, driving civilised society towards a peak-oil-like situation, only with more far reaching consequences.

Perhaps more troubling, at least from the perspective of this column, is the notion that our love of the good bean is serving to create an overabundance of baristas.

Or, to look at it differently, what happens when a social trend then drives employment trends?

It works well while the trend continues - we love coffee, drink lots of it, which in turn creates job opportunities for people who can percolate a quality pot.

If the trend reverses, and we suddenly decide sugared water gives us the kick we need, what then for the baristas?

According to Shane Hepburn, director at The Good Bean espresso bar in the heart of the Sunshine Coast's tourist strip at Mooloolaba, any oversupply is countered by the reality that working as a barista is actually a pretty tough gig.

The good ones, he said, would always find work.

"I do believe that our love of coffee is creating an over-supply in the short-term, however many people give up after they realise that baristas start work before most people wake up and it takes a lot of time and practice to become one of the best," he said.

"But if you love what you do, none of that matters."

Opening a boutique coffee shop in a strip already home to global coffee giants was something of a gamble, but also presented an opportunity to see how the big boys play, and how it doesn't always work.

Shane said he was determined to retain good workers, which meant treating them right.

"Basically, I do not have any staff turnover because I look after them very well," he said.

"I do see many other places changing staff consistently."

It's sound logic that applies across virtually any industry or sector - if you're good at what you do, there will be work for you. Likewise, if you treat your staff well, you'll find yourself in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose your staff, rather than having to settle for the latest resume-toting cowboy to knock on your door.

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