Wherever you go in town and city centres, there are more and more coffee shops. Not easy to decide where to go. Not every “cafés” provide the same kind of customer service and coffee quality. It all depends on what you are after.

Some people like to monopolize a table and seat for hours because they NEED to work online: all this is fine as long as they purchase drink or food regularly. If the business provides free WiFi internet access, the customer needs to show respect and help the espresso bar to run by putting some money in the till!

Sadly, not everyone sees it this way.

Barista life is an interesting one. That person making/preparing coffee can see and observe a lot of things from behind the counter even when busy.

The role is not just about pressing a button and steaming that milk according to the order placed by caffeine lovers. There is a compulsory but natural eye-contact and subtle panning through the room to make sure everyone is fine – no need to ask anything.

Too many people assimilate a barista to be a kind of hipster looking person – the trendy type with beanie, beard, tattoo and other lumberjack shirt. This is just a stereotype… don’t believe what everyone is saying.

What is essential is the quality of the brew: getting the ratio (water – coffee) and the extraction right. The rest is just irrelevant.

Looking cool is too much of a 21st century topic – for some (unknown) reasons individuals like to deal with fashionable members of staff. This is not a guarantee of quality though… it is just the image and appearance. A more classic looking coffee maker can be as good as (if not better) than the regular laid back barista.

Before going further into this, a barista is a knowledgeable and hard working person – sometimes customers believe that they are allowed to treat him/her (because yes, there are female barista too) like a close friend. Why is that? This type of attitude wouldn’t be welcome in other businesses such as bank, civic centre or pharmacy.

Respect your Barista

Respect your Barista

The procedure is straight forward: a person comes to the counter, orders a drink (based on an espresso) and eventual cake, the barista makes that crafted coffee and charge for the various items. After this process and according to the layout and flow of customers, a dialogue can take place on various subjects. It can be about the coffee itself or just a brief “are you enjoying the aroma/flavour of the coffee“?

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of Colonna & Small’s in Bath is an expert and almost a scientist when it comes to making the perfect cup.

This interview produced by Shot By Shot Films gives you an idea of what running a successful business is about.

Colonna-Dashwood has won the UK Barista Championship in 2012 and 2014 and finished 5th of the World Barista Championship 2014 (video HERE) – this means that those beverages are without a shadow of a doubt prepared with care.

But things don’t stop here. There is a forthcoming adventure about expanding and…diversification of services: Colonna & Hunter.

This is a lifestyle or even better…real dedication. The amount of hours involved are just enormous. Most of the time, people are surprised to hear how hard it can be to work in a coffee shop. The opening “mise en place” and keeping everything perfectly tidy requires constant attention.

Last but not least, a market survey and strategy are vital, because it would be insane to pick and invest in a commercial property randomly then “wait and see“. The return on invested capital (ROIC) has to bring positive results…this is the aim of all companies.

Spending around 10 hours a day on duty and ready to serve customers without showing signs of tiredness is a job that not everyone could fulfill. This is barista life… when closing the door after such shift, you can understand why that very barista won’t be seen in local pubs/clubs…it is generally a choice!

Black coffee and doughnut

Black coffee and doughnut

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