Thomas Clare Lavazza

Name: Thomas Clare

Age: 24

Job title: Coffee trainer

Company & location: Lavazza, Uxbridge

Education: Centre for Arts and Technology – Diploma in digital photography, social media and business management, SCA – barista skills intermediate, brewing intermediate

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I started working in a café when I was 13 and I just fell in love with coffee. I was always pressured into doing ‘greater things’ but it just wasn’t where my heart was.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): I train baristas across the country to an advanced level, audit cafés, create coffee recipes for our new customers and ensure our existing ones have the support they need to make consistently great coffee.

What does a typical day look like for you? On a typical day, I would be running a training session at Lavazza’s Uxbridge HQ. We also do auditing for our customers, where I am sent up and down the country, undercover, to taste their coffee and provide feedback. Every day is completely different at Lavazza: one day I might be running a barista skills course, another I could be attending an event like Wimbledon or Ascot, running workshops. During Wimbledon and Ascot it is generally all hands on deck, visiting our coffee stands to make sure our baristas are trained, excited and feeling good about the onslaught of customers they’re about to receive. One of my favourite parts about events is running workshops. For example, during London Coffee Festival we spent the week welcoming visitors to the Lavazza stand, where they were exposed to immersive experiences, including masterclasses and demos, which brought Lavazza’s sustainability, taste and quality credentials to life.

“The best part for me is visiting the cafés and being served by the baristas I’ve trained”

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. I was a barista/coffee trainer at a boutique hotel chain, and when I heard about the opportunity to work for Lavazza I applied immediately. There were two interviews: both were super-relaxed and friendly. They had heard of me before, and so the majority of the questions were personality-based to see if I was a good fit for the team.

What’s the best part about working for a food company? The best part about working in this industry for me is visiting the cafés and being served by the baristas I’ve trained. Seeing all our hard work being paid off is such a rewarding feeling. 

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? I think the biggest misconception is that people don’t see it as a legitimate career. They see being a barista as a temporary job, which it doesn’t have to be!

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Ask for help, work hard and get really good at smiling.

What’s your ultimate career dream? I would love to become a real Lavazza brand ambassador and a highly acknowledged coffee consultant, being able to share knowledge and have an impact in the coffee community.