Last week, at Black Velvet Espresso, we had a customer who was upset that a cup of coffee was delivered to another person first; a person that ordered after her. She made her frustration clear, and although her coffee was now ready, demanded her money back, and wouldn’t allow me to explain.
We rarely have unsatisfied customers at Black Velvet, so this took me aback. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain the coffee making process and irritated at her manner.
Then it hit me. Why should a customer understand the coffee making process in high volume cafes? Unless she had stood behind a machine and made thousands of cups of coffee, all the while doing it as fast as she could, she couldn’t possibly know! I’m sure that I would also be aggrieved if someone appeared to ‘bump the queue’ without knowing why. So, on behalf of our baristas at Black Velvet, please let me explain…
Our Espresso bar is very busy, particularly between 7:30 – 11am. People can queue in large lines, and every morning we have a cloud of people gathering in, and around our little shop. We do all we can to speed up the process of coffee making so that everyone will get their coffee faster. We can’t extract coffee or steam milk faster than we do, so we have to find valuable seconds in other ways. We physically move fast; arrange orders whilst filling a group handle; develop a strong chemistry with each other etc. However, the best way that we can find valuable seconds is through ‘bunching’ orders. We can extract two shots out of one group head; we can steam full-cream milk for two small coffees in one jug; we can extract a long black for a customer if the barista on milk is pouring etc.
In this particular case, the customer in question ordered skim milk; however, the customers before and after, were drinking soy. The barista filled and steamed a large jug to be able to serve two customers in one hit; therefore the customer in question was pushed back one order. This is an unfortunate by-product; however, due to this technique, the overall wait time was much less.
We all have ‘tricks of the trade’ to assist us in being more productive in our line of work; now you know ours! I hope you have enjoyed this insight into the world of a professional barista, and have a greater understanding the processes we go through to make sure you get your coffee at the highest quality, within a reasonable amount of time.