Employee Olympics are the perfect way to showcase the fun-loving and passionate side of your business. In addition to having fun, the games are a great way to demonstrate your employees’ skills! At Starbucks, we used to host the Barista Olympics – allowing our employees to compete in areas such as “pulling the perfect espresso shot” and creating “latte art” (designs in the foam).

Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? It’s a fun way to focus on training and shore up your employees skills.


The games could be private for employees only as a team and morale-building activity. Or, you could have the games be public and show off to customers. You could create a public event out of the games. Whatever feels right to you and your team!

First and foremost, games should be fun, and reinforce your quality of product, presentation and quality of service. They should never compromise safety, customer experience, or create excess waste.

Secondly, think about what the winner will win! What’s important to your team? An extra day off? Cash? A massage?

Here are a few ideas:


  • Sandwich-making contest
  • “Iron Chef”-style competition
  • Burrito-wrapping contest
  • Create a new menu item


  • Who is the fastest at folding a wall of shirts?
  • Who can wrap gifts the fastest (and neatest)?
  • Who can keep their section of the store fully stocked and neat all day?

Coffee Shop

  • How many perfect shots of espresso can each employee pull?
  • How many complicated orders can each barista recall?
  • Host a latte art competition! Google “latte art” for inspiration!

The most important things are to get creative and have fun with your team! If you can involve your customers, great! If not, and the games are better for employees only, that’s just fine too!

One of the Barista Olympics we hosted at Starbucks was a way of preparing for a big Espresso Beverage Campaign. We wanted to makes sure every barista was making the perfect shot and beverages to recipe and had a great hand-off to the customer. We had a competition in each store then the winner went on to compete in the district finals. It was all internal until we had the 3 top baristas. For the final competition with the 3, we invited the media as part of launching the new campaign. The winner received a trophy and title of Top Barista in the Region. We also used this person in lots of marketing activities like samplings and media visits. It’s a great way to make training fun!