Archives for posts with tag: customer service

When stepping into a coffee shop there is of course the smell of coffee and usually a great display of cakes and tarts.

Customers like to think that a barista has an easy day at work.

In fact, the head barista is in charge of various things which could change the way coffee tastes. This member of staff is generally the first in the shop in order to switch on the espresso machine to gain the right pressure as well as various grinders too. But this is not all.

Turning and pressing buttons can only happen once the grinder is correctly setup. Dialing in is about making sure that the correct quantity of coffee (between 18g and 20g) will be in the portafilter. The size of the grind is essential too. Most people in the coffee trade are aware of it…but surprisingly not the customers. They are just after their caffeine fix. Quality comes with time and rushing it wouldn’t deliver the correct extraction and ratio coffee-water.

espresso dose on scale and tamper

espresso dose on scale and tamper

The counter, group heads and grinders have to be kept as clean as possible in order to avoid a real mess inside and underneath the cup. Wiping steam wand and drip tray can be seen as a waste of time when waiting for that coffee hit. But all these details are what makes your coffee tasting fresh and clean. No one wants to have bits of dry milk or old coffee ground floating on their drinks.

Some chains don’t actually care whether you are new in town, regular or just passing-by, because there is enough foot fall to fill up their tills. As for an independent shop, the story is completely different: keeping the existing coffee lovers is important but getting new loyal customers will keep the ball rolling smoothly with no worries.

Running an espresso bar is more than making coffee – there is the customer service too. Looking after people is a service which is so often missing. Serving a cup, taking the cash…this is not enough. People want more and this includes an interaction and checking that their drink/cake are as expected. Ignoring feedback is never a good idea. Listening to comments and recommendations will help the business to develop better/faster and improvements are always possible.

It is also thinking about the little personal touch that can attract more people to come in. “Attention to details” as recruiters like to say.

What could this be?

Fresh tap water available to continue the day after having had a snack. Some newspapers and magazines to go through while waiting for a friend. Able to guide clients when it comes to buy some coffee beans and eventually grind them at no extra cost.

In other words it is about being sociable and keeping this communication going as the barista is the host and keeping the guests entertained is what creates the buzz. People always like to keep or take home something from a great place.

Remember as a child, yourself would certainly like a promotional sticker or fridge magnet – this is still applicable when being an adult. It is just to show to your entourage that you have been there (been there, done that, got the t-shirt) . This can just be a paper take-away cup with the logo of the business on it or even better, a reusable keep-cup which will stay with you for a long time.

Over all it is not about the actual value, this is secondary.

Finally, thinking of restocking (soya) milk, sugar, stirrers, tea leaves, disposable napkins and all other ingredients vital to run the business is part of the head barista’s duty.

It happens (rarely) that there is a short period during the day when the staff can sit down to sip a well deserved flat white or cup of tea. If this is when you are actually coming in for your brew, it would be wrong to assume that he/she has been slacking since 8am… Remember that if you want to smell the coffee, baristi are actually up and working hard well before everyone else.

Wake up and smell the coffee - animation

Wake up and smell the coffee – animation

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

Always remember that when you are stepping into a shop, you are a guest, a customer and respecting the premises and the staff is essential. It doesn’t make you the king of the castle!

For some unknown reason, some (not all) regular customers like to be friend with the barista. It is understandable that he/she is making you a nice and delightful coffee every day/morning. However, the barista is a profession and getting his/her name won’t change the quality of the drink. Of course, it is always good to know something about the person on the other side of the counter. But, sometimes a barista likes to be known as “the barista”. It is a (demanding) job…yes, it is indeed.

Running a coffee shop, is not just about steaming milk, pulling espresso shots. There is the constant politeness and customer service whether it is for the first drink of the day or the 300th!

It happens (too often) that some customers believe they can have what they want and fast!

In general there is a drinks’ menu and THIS is what is made by the barista. It takes roughly 1 minute 30 seconds, unless you go for a pour over (filter) or aeropress. Once again, going to an espresso bar and making your own recipe is indirectly breaking the rules.

Aeropress stages

Aeropress stages

Would you go to a restaurant to pick a dish from the menu but ask to have it modified with extra additions?! Probably not! Same rules apply!

Same rules apply

Same rules apply

You can be polite and amicable with members of staff wherever you go, knowing their name won’t affect the quality of the service. This is just an idea from the general public.

Unless the barista introduces him/herself , there is no need to know more details about the person making you a crafted coffee day-in day-out.

In other words, a barista (/bəˈrɪstə/) is a person making and serving coffee as a profession. Skills and knowledge are necessary to do so – otherwise anyone would be able to produce perfectly made cappuccino, latte or flat white.

There is a complete article which has been published in the Telegraph about this kind of attitude towards the hipster making you your daily dose of caffeine – read HERE.

Video by Origin Coffee Roasters