Training Up A Diverse Cafe Team

To commemorate one year of operations in Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST), we sat down with Leena who has been working in YST since day one. Before joining Foreword, she worked multiple years in the F&B industry and is now using her experience to train the newer crew.


Please introduce yourself!
Hello I am Leena, an assistant outlet manager at Foreword Coffee.


How did you start working in Foreword?
I found out about the job through SG Enable and started working in the Civil Service College branch in July 2018.


What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I do daily operations including preparing rice bowls and pastries, making coffee, stock counting and serving customers.


How are you involved in teaching new crew when they join Foreword?
I teach them station by station, starting from the non-coffee premix station and milk/ice station, as well as housekeeping matters. After they have learnt one station, then we move on to the next.

For some stations like cashiering which requires interaction with customers, some of the staff are nervous and not confident. In that case, I will teach them espresso first.

A new staff shadowing Leena at the premix station.


How do you communicate with hearing staff who may not understand sign language?
I write slowly, so we mainly communicate by writing. Sometimes I will teach them common sign language we use in the cafe like ‘black coffee’, ‘white coffee’, ‘hot’, ‘iced’, etc. When communication becomes too difficult, Wei Jie will step in to help in training. 


What do you do when the staff you’re teaching is feeling overwhelmed and showing signs of stress?
It depends. At times where there are many customers, I will ask them to take a seat at one side to calm down while I finish up what they were doing. During times where the café is less busy, I will push them more by asking them to take pictures or write down the recipes and go through at home themselves. When they come back for their next shift, I will test them.

There are times where staff gets nervous and scared. In those moments, I will have to slow down and go through with them step by step with repetition. It is tiring to repeat and I realise I need to be very patient.

Leena often keeps a close watch for newer staff to ensure their safety and are following recipes correctly.


Who is someone you trained recently?
I taught Faith espresso and milk frothing at this outlet [Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music] recently. Faith has visual impairment so we enlarged the fonts of the recipes and labels here to help her see better.

Labels and recipes in larger fonts done up by Leena and her team to accommodate to Faith’s needs.


Were there any memorable customers you encountered during your time working here?
There was a student who came here and sat at the window to work everyday for a period of time. There was once where she broke down and cried at the café. I went to check in on her and asked if she was okay, turns out she was so stressed over her project and exams. During her graduation recently, she even specially came by to say hi (and bye) and took picture with me!

Catch more of what Leena’s day is like at the café with this video!


Surprise! Flash this article at Foreword Coffee Roasters @ Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music from 15 Aug – 19 Aug and redeem a FREE Yuan Yang pin with every purchase of Yuan Yang drink. Limited to 1 redemption per customer. While stocks last!

Written by Foreword Coffee Roasters