Get To Know Us- Equator Coffee Educator

"As a Coffee Educator for Equator Coffees & Teas, I am in a unique position to collaborate with our staff and our communities to nurture informed and connected relationships."

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My name is Tovara Salley and I am the Retail Trainer and Coffee Educator for Equator. Eight years ago I was teaching yoga but needed another job to pay the bills. I began working as a barista and fell in love with the people I worked with and the communities I worked for.

What does a Retail Coffee Educator do? I train the retail staff who work at our five cafe locations,  I perform research and drink development for our cafe menus, as well as create and teach all of our training protocols.  Currently underway, I am building content to help educate our greater community highlighting how-to-brew tips, and knowledge to improve your Equator coffee experience at home.  For step-by-step brewing guides check out our brew the perfect cup resources.

How long do new staff train?  It really depends on their background in coffee (if any), but our training can last anywhere from 15-20 hours of technical skill training. Followed by an additional 40-80 hours of buddy bar, i.e. in the moment bar flow training in the cafes.  Some of the best learning happens on the fly, and we focus on using real circumstances as teaching moment. Since joining the Equator community, I have worked with and trained almost every retail employee on staff. This includes 45 baristas, 10 managers/assistant managers, as well as many of our wholesale team members.

What I like most about this role is that I get to interact with all types of people, both our guests and our team members. I get to meet them at a unique point in their coffee journey, build a relationship with them, grow their knowledge, and enhance our community all at the same time. One of the best parts about Equator is we love sharing coffee knowledge! My job is to get our staff excited and uphold the quality of the Equator brand and the coffees we share. I love igniting passions that a barista may not yet know they have, but is evident in all our Equator retail employees.

One important element of my job is teaching technical skills. These skills are the foundation of becoming a great coffee professional. Another very key element is sharing and teaching the soft skills that make up the Equator DNA.  It is the finesse of specialty coffee. The importance of treating each one of our guests as valuable individual members of our home and community.  As our retail business grows, the significance of training and education grows. In this way can continue sharing the Equator experience with a larger community throughout the bay area and beyond.

If you have any questions, you can always find me at our cafes. Knowledge is meant to be shared, not hoarded. We want you to have a great coffee experience no matter what.

Come into any of our five Equator locations to join our community. We will be waiting for you with a warm smile, a welcoming community, and the best coffee and beverage service the Bay has to offer.

Here are my top three keys to improve your coffee experience at home:

  1. Pre-wet your filter!
    • Why? This helps give you a more clean cup of coffee.  No one wants the taste of paper in their cup, and this helps significantly minimize that.
    • How? Put your filter in your coffee brewing vessel, rinse it with warm water, leave it in the vessel and dump out the water.
  2. Know how much coffee you should use.
  • Why?  If you’re using too little coffee, it can taste thin and weak…To much coffee it can taste overly bitter and too strong and can clog your coffee maker.
  • How?  If you have a scale we recommend a 1:16 ratio of coffee:water.  I.e. for every “gram of coffee, 16 “grams of water” so if you want a 25 gram cup of coffee, that is a 400 “gram” total brew (appx. 12 oz. cup).  If you don’t have a scale, no worries. 1 level tablespoon of ground coffee per 6 oz. of water, if you’re using a home brewer (bonavita).

3. Grind correctly?

  • Why? If you have the means to invest in a great grinder it’s a great tool.  But if not, ask any of our staff for a recommendation on what grind setting for your coffee.  As a general rule of thumb- if your coffee tastes thin and weak, grind finer to slow down the brew (smaller particles).  If your coffee tastes overly bitter and too strong.  Make the grinds coarser (larger particles).
  • How? Invest in a good grinder, ask one of our staff for recommendations, or check out our grinders online.  A low-cost option to also give a great arm workout is hario hand grinders.

Thanks for reading!

Tovara Salley
Retail Trainer/Coffee Educator
Equator Coffees & Teas