Archives for posts with tag: Finance

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

Don’t get yourself buried under a mountain of debt; learn how to prevent an avalanche and accomplish your financial goals.

The average personal debt in the UK is £9,731.

This means that as a whole, the country owes an estimated £55 billion, not including mortgages. A recent report from the Commons public accounts committee says that one in ten people in the UK are struggling to manage their debts.

When the average interest rate on credit card debt runs up into the mid to high teens at any given point, having this much debt is an incredible financial burden. It is often a struggle to pay the interest every month let alone pay down the principal. How you can make smart decisions about debt so that it does not get out of your control?

Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Debt

There are a few times in life when it is ok to get into debt, such as when you are buying investments which will grow in value. For example, taking out a mortgage to buy a house can be a good decision because you will be able to live in the house and it will increase in value over the long term.

Going into debt to buy a car is a bad idea because cars lose nearly half of their value as soon as they take their first spin around the block. If you try to sell your car a few years later, you will never get as much money as you paid for it if you bought it new.

Don’t Get Into Debt on Expendables

It is foolish to rely on credit card debt to pay for things like meals, holidays and other things which you will consume right away, unless you plan to pay your bill in the next month or so. You will owe interest on these items and you won’t even have an asset to show for it. Only spend cash on these things, and only if you have money left over from your paycheque. If you can’t afford them, don’t buy them.

Prioritize Your Debts

If you have already gotten yourself into debt, get out as quickly as you can! One of the best strategies is to start paying off your highest interest loans first, because those are the ones which are costing you the most. Once you get rid of your credit card loans with high interest you will be able to focus on your lower interest loans next.

With the exception of good debt for investments such as taking out a mortgage to buy a reasonable priced house that you can comfortably afford, going into debt for most expenditure is a bad idea. Save your money and buy things when you can afford them instead to avoid letting your debt get out of control.

However… a nice weekend out can always be a good plan and no need to splash the cash. The London Coffee Festival 2012 is taking place last weekend of April (27th to 29th – Old Truman Brewery – London). Various activities during these 3 days. Tickets are available in advance or on the door.

Coffee and music do mix well!

…This year, the Hyde Park zone of the festival will play host to some of the best acoustics talent the London music scene has to offer…

For instance Richard James a singer/song writer from Devon UK currently based in south west London, will be playing and entertaining the caffeine lovers.

…Richard has been showcasing his music at venues such as The Embassy Mayfair, Freedom Bar Soho, The Regal Room Hammersmith, The Half-Moon Putney, London and Oceana Night-Club Birmingham…

A good plan afterall…and it is in the E1 district – Shoreditch becoming the place where everything underground is happening.

Overspending when going out can lead to silly debts. A good few hours between friends, tasting several coffees and experimenting either with a syphon or a percolator can be more fun than getting drunk and buying bad take-aways.

Private banks have overcome their post-crisis aversion to private equity and hedge funds and are ploughing client money back into alternative assets in search of higher returns, according to a new study.(source: FT.com)

Making higher returns is the hope of everyone. The interest rates are still low but wealth management for the ones who are able to do so, could be the right solution…but by taking some risks.

Is is worth taking these risks.  Wealth managers believe that it is the right time to push investments.

Mainly because, the amount of  portfolios held in cash has fallen from 11% to 4%  since the end of 2009, while fixed-income holdings also dropped slightly by 3%.

In general, private banks are careful with their clients’ investment portfolio.

The danger is that in order to make a commercial return with 2 layers of fees, it is necessary to find hedge funds that are taking more risk than you budgeted for.

Money is something precious and therefore it is essential to be careful the way it is handled.

Businesses and private investors want they money to work – however, there aren’t alternatives these days.

Trusting your bank is important despite of the recession which seems to be still around.