BeanScene talks to Anthony Douglas and Jack Simpson on how their coffee expertise can be felt at any Axil Coffee Roasters location across the country.
Having a champion barista on your staff roster may lift the expectations a customer has at a café, but having two champion baristas under the one brand? Well, those expectations go through the roof.
Axil has 19 locations across Victoria. While the company can boast having the 2022 World Barista Champion Anthony Douglas and 2023 Australian and Third Place World Barista Champion Jack Simpson working behind the bar, the pair can only be in one place at one time.
When Anthony and Jack are not travelling the world, they can be found at Axil’s flagship location in Hawthorn, where the front entrance rightfully states that the café is home to the 2022 World Barista Champion, and the 2022 and 2023 Australian Barista Champions.
“When I’m in the country, I typically am based around Hawthorn because we’ve got our roastery, office, and training room nearby,” says Anthony, who leads Axil’s research and development team. “I visit the other stores, but you’ll find me spending most of my time here.”
Jack works with Axil’s quality control and sales teams, and travels around Melbourne to support the company’s cafés.
To make sure their presence is felt throughout each Axil location, the company has established training techniques that reflect the work of its champions, and to ensure a similar customer experience.
“A lot of the staff that come to work for Axil know how to make a coffee, but we’re very particular about our systems. We have systems in place to make sure we have the same consistency and quality across all our stores, as well as our wholesale accounts across Australia,” Anthony says.
“[The induction] is two to three hours where we go through the barista playbook, which entails the way we make our coffee. It’s an opportunity for [new staff] to get any questions out of the way, and to make sure there’s no ambiguity.”
Anthony says the induction process is helpful for existing Axil staff, new hires, and wholesale café partners, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
“We don’t want to throw them into the deep end because that’s not a very fun feeling,” he says. “When you start a job, sometimes you don’t really know what’s expected of you and what you’re trying to achieve.”
The induction period is followed by the F20, the term Axil uses for a new barista’s first 20 shifts at the company.
“It’s broken down by the week, and consists of a series of goals that the baristas work through with their manager,” Anthony says. “It’s drip feeding them everything they need to know over a few weeks.
“Week one could be about pouring coffees, and then we move on to learning about steaming.”
The F20 also covers operational parts of the job, including the procedures to open and close a café.
Anthony says that while he is less involved in the training process since his WBC victory in 2022, he is assured the staff in place at Axil continue to run a smooth operation.
“We have operations managers who are all across our staff and which areas we need to be paying more attention to in this ever- changing landscape,” he says.
“I’m very proud of our team. Because we’ve got so many locations, it’s really important for customers to come in and have a consistently pleasant experience [between locations] and I think we’re achieving that.”
Both Jack and Anthony credit Axil for helping them develop the skills that eventually made them champions, and imparting those lessons onto the next generation so that they may reach similar goals.
“Competitions can be complex, but 90 per cent of it is fundamental coffee skills,” says Anthony.
Jack adds that winning championships is a reflection of the people working behind Axil, including its Founder, Director, and 2008 World Barista Championship Runner- Up, David Makin.
“A lot of the stuff Anthony and I have learned and done in those competitions has been filtered back to the cafés,” says Jack.
It’s this trust in Axil’s training program that has given the company hope to further expand its operations.
“At the moment, we’re trying to focus on wholesale throughout Australia,” says Jack.
“We have some amazing coffee partners in Victoria, and we’re looking to stretch out with our wholesale program.”
The most important consideration as the brand scales, Anthony adds, is that its staff take care of the quality and service the Axil brand has become renowned for.
“When we expand out of Melbourne, we’ll be looking to partner with cafés that are aligned with Axil’s pillars of quality consistency. We need to work with people we can trust, and in a way where we can change to deliver the same quality across all locations as we do here [in Hawthorn],” Anthony says.
“We’ve got a very strong team behind us [to make that happen].”
For more information, visit www.axilcoffee.com.au
This article appears in the October 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.