Chapter 4: The Best Process

Process is both the way the coffee is made, but also the way the work areas are laid out to maximize efficiency and productivity. A successful business process involves managing the art of producing perfect pulls of espresso and also understanding the correct means of laying our work stations. Giving employees the necessary training, structure and support will enable them to thrive and serve as brand ambassadors for your coffee shop.

We’ll begin with the slowly dying arts of the grind and the tamp. With super automatics beginning to dominate the industry, few baristas and even fewer owners continue to individually grind and tamp their beans. I won’t say you must learn these skills. I will tell you that knowing how to prepare espresso without automation allows the thoughtful owner to understand what might be wrong with the expensive equipment that is producing inadequate coffee. The level to which you and your staff can diagnose problems will contribute to providing superior product and service to your customers. And that fosters fierce loyalty.

If you are providing a superior product, your customers will either begin as or gradually become coffee aficionados. They appreciate the attention of someone who understands the process of making coffee and who shares their passion. Your devotion to the art is part of the process of attracting customers and converting them into brand ambassadors.

As much as you want to focus your efforts on maximizing your customer’s experience, a successful owner will also ensure that employees can easily and efficiently do their jobs. One area to emphasize is the layout of the store and employee’s work areas.

Hospitality businesses cater to people having rough days. They are an oasis of peace in a chaotic world. Have they had a rough day at the office? They’ll get some coffee. Are they looking to meet a new client and hold a quick meeting in a casual environment? Coffee shops will facilitate that, too. Are they running behind and need to get a pick me up? That’s what coffee was born to do.

What your customers universally want is their product delivered quickly and with a smile. Your team can only do that if you have put effort into designing the store to make their jobs easier. The register area needs to be setup to quickly

process transactions and move customers either to the bar where they will wait for their espresso drinks or to the seating area.

The coffee making area needs to be laid out thoughtfully to allow quick and efficient beverage creation. Too much movement does not create the impression of a bustling café. It adds unwanted stress to your employees’ days. Their stress shows up in poor service. They are either taking too long to get the orders prepared and delivered, or their frustration is showing up as unintentional frowns on their faces as they deliver the goods.

The best means of combatting that is to keep baristas mostly stationary during beverage preparation. If they don’t need to take any steps, they are working smoothly and efficiently. It also means they aren’t trying to get by someone who is right next to them. Give the barista access to everything he or she needs: beans, milk, cups, spices, a small clean up sink with hot water, whatever is needed to make the drinks within easy reach. Keep the register near the beverage station. This limits the lost-in- translation effect of orders being shouted across a coffee shop. Doing this will improve efficiency.

Another efficiency innovation is advance prep of as many items as can be done without sacrificing quality. No one wants to walk into a store, order a latte and receive it immediately from a drink warmer. But for pastries and other baked goods, using efficient mass production methods at regular intervals will make sure the goods are fresh and ready when customers want them. Same thing with fresh brewed coffee. Keep it fresh, but make plenty in advance of your peak times. Save the espresso drink making for the moment it is ordered.

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