Meet Colin Young: Barista Trainer

May 8th, 2024 | Coffee Industry Insights & Trends

This week we interviewed Colin Young, our account development executive and barista trainer, in which we followed the journey from barista to trainer, highlighting what the coffee industry has to offer to those who want to make a career within it! With a decade’s experience in busy, well-known, high-street coffee chains, Colin’s story reflects a blend of passion for coffee and a deep appreciation for human connection. In our conversation, he unveils the challenges and rewards of training, what it’s like to be part of the Matthew Algie team and the ever-evolving landscape of the barista profession. Join us in this conversation as we explore Colin’s path from part-time barista to barista trainer at one of the biggest roasters and coffee machine suppliers in the UK. 

Pouring latte milk into cup Barista training session Steaming Milk for coffee


Can you introduce yourself? What is your role here at Matthew Algie?

My name is Colin. I am an account development executive at Matthew Algie. Part of my role here involves training baristas, so I might go to some remote locations across Scotland, which are absolutely gorgeous, to train them. We also get some baristas in Glasgow who come into our training Academy, where we will teach them everything about making coffee. So, a lot of it is about training, but also developing the barista, helping them achieve their milk frothing and latte art goals.

So what experience did you have in the coffee industry before you started working here?

I started working in coffee about 9 years ago as a part-time job. I didn’t really like coffee (don’t tell anyone). Then, from doing coffee tasting and sampling as time went on, I developed a love affair with the product, and now they would probably say that I’m addicted.

Most of my experience came from high-street commercial sites. I spent a lot of time in Starbucks, a few independent coffee shops, and chains. I realised very quickly that people are actually just as important as the product, and I enjoy that side of things. Nine years later, here I am!

What motivated you to go from a barista position into a training role?

I’m very passionate about people and inspiring others. I think there’s no better feeling than helping people achieve their goals, whether it’s a hobby or whether it’s somebody who wants to do it as a job. Watching them go on that, little bit of a journey, it’s very rewarding. I take a lot of that away from that.

What is the most difficult skill to teach to a training barista?

I would say patience is the most difficult thing to teach. We get a lot of training baristas who come in, and they think within 10 minutes, they’re going to be doing the latte art of swans and peacocks. It’s trying to say, you know, take your time. Slow down, and it does happen, but I think a lot of people don’t think or don’t realise there’s quite a lot involved in the coffee preparation side of things. Patience is the key.

In your opinion, what are the most important qualities or skills for a successful barista?

If you’re passionate about coffee, that helps a lot. You should also be able to engage with your customers and the public; that’s probably 50% of the job. It’s being a shoulder for your customer. As modern-day bartenders, we hear it all, we hear everything from the customers. So, if you can enjoy people and you can enjoy the product, then you’re definitely on the right track.

Do you think people’s opinions of baristas are changing?

Yes, I think it is. I think the barista role has changed fundamentally, probably over the last 10 years. It used to be all about these multinational companies and big coffee chains. Now we’re seeing a flip, where it’s about independent companies as well, and the baristas are taking a lot of ownership in regards to brewing methods. They own their craft. I think the customers are appreciating that as well. There are some specialised places out there and I think baristas are definitely being appreciated and more.


What advice would you give someone wanting to get involved with the coffee industry?

If you want to get into the coffee industry, go for it. There’s no point holding back saying, oh, I might do that. I might not. Coffee now it’s a really good time to get into the sector. Coffee shops are popping up everywhere. It’s a product that everyone’s after, so go for it. It’s a very welcoming industry. We’ve all got to start somewhere, so go for it and you will not regret it.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Matthew Algie?

I think my favourite thing about working at Matthew Algie is the people, I find the company incredibly welcoming. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining outside or sunny, you’re guaranteed to come in for a laugh. There are no two days the same. There’s always something going on. Whether it’s working with the coffee and machinery or being part of our strong office-based team, there are so many roles available – it’s wonderful.

What would you say to someone looking at a role at Matthew Algie and unsure whether to apply?

I think if you have seen a role within Matthew Algie and you’re thinking of applying for it, I would go for it and the onboarding process is really welcoming. I had a thousand questions when I came on board and everyone was more than happy to answer them during the induction, you get a full tour of the roastery. You meet all the different departments, and they make you feel like you are part of the family from day one.

Outside of work, where do you find yourself?

You would probably find me on a stage outside work. I’m a dancer and a singer! Coffee is the real job, I promise. But I’ve been doing a few shows, so yes, my background is in musical theatre, and as much as I love it, coffee is my day-to-day job. When I’m not at the coffee training school it’s good to get back on stage and keep myself busy with hobbies as well.

Finally, what is your go-to coffee order?

My favourite coffee would be a flat white. I like African coffees from the main growing regions. I love fruity coffee, and a Kenyan coffee is one for the Christmas card list.


Thanks to Colin for catching up with us and elaborating on his journey from part-time barista to development executive and barista trainer. Colin’s story can be an inspiration for those who love and work within the coffee industry and want to explore what careers can be found within. It’s also a message to those who are new to the industry and want to discover the art and science behind what goes into making high-quality coffee. For those who want to find out more about Colin or book some coffee training classes, click here. You can also find out more about positions available at Matthew Algie here.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read our blog, and please reach out with your own coffee journey within the industry! You can always find us on our socials in the footer!

Coffee Training Espresso shot pour Colin having a conversation about everything related to the coffee industry