How to Optimize the Barista Experience
Delivering high-quality coffee means more than pouring a simple cup of joe.
Customers expect theatre and flair, along with their favorite order. According to a survey by Eventbrite, 75 percent of people said that they believe unique experiences are worth paying more for. Plus, the boom in the coffee market means that competition is fierce. Local coffee shops are driving innovation to stand out from the crowd. So, it's important to offer a one-of-a-kind experience at your location.
But as much as you might like to, it's impossible to give every customer a dedicated, personalized experience. There just isn't enough time in the day.
When the rush begins, how can you optimize the balance between effective service and an experience that keeps people coming back?
Speed versus Theatre
Mastering the combination of speed and theatre is key to commercial coffee success. These two concepts do not have to be mutually exclusive. By optimizing your workspace, training your staff, and using the right technology, you can wow your customers without making them wait.
Optimize your workspace
Serving coffee efficiently means running your business like a Michelin star restaurant. Before starting work, make sure everything your team need during a shift is in a logical, easy-to-reach place.
Whichever grinder you use, it’s best to keep it close. Keep your hoppers topped up and make sure there is fresh milk ready in the fridge. Coffee bags should be sealed and stored in an easy-to-access cupboard.
Think about how your team moves around the coffee bar while they work and create a logical layout. A production-line approach is the most effective.
Clean as you go
Messy workspaces cause a lot of problems. We're talking smells, cross-contamination, and potential fines. None of these things will help you deliver a first-class customer experience. Plus, it slows down your workflow.
A "clean as you go" approach will mean your staff stays on top of the cleaning, creating a pleasing space for your customers to visit. It also means your teams don't have to navigate piles of dirty cups.
Just like your coffee brewing tools, keep your cleaning products close to hand to encourage their use.
Divide and conquer
Your team needs to work effectively together in order to provide a good service to your customers. Investing in group training will help them form bonds or trust that will make them work better as a team.
During a busy day, all employees should be given one job and one position. Two staff members doing the same thing is the same as having one less member of staff. The only exception to this is when you have multiple machines or stations. The important thing is that you have one person handling one area.
You can rotate your staff every few hours to keep them motivated, but be mindful of overlaps. During breaks, make sure there's effective cover and don't neglect the other side of the coffee bar. Have a member of your team on the floor, greeting your customers and clearing away empty cups.
Develop knowledge and communication
Part of the coffee experience is interacting with passionate, articulate, and knowledgeable servers. So, in addition to training technical skills, invest in communication skills.
Conversation with customers should be informative, polite, and concise. Your baristas need to learn how to share their knowledge of coffee regions, processing methods, and roast profiles in a way that is efficient, yet entertaining. It's a performance and performances need to be practiced and refined.
Getting the balance right is tricky. You want customers to feel relaxed and that they're getting a quality experience. But they shouldn’t wait for ages because you’re too busy talking to someone else, either.
Take advantage of technology
Coffee machines can help add extra theatre without costing you too much time. Some of the latest coffee machines can be pre-programmed with temperatures and types of coffee to create perfect brews every time.
But unlike a static machine, they offer the rattle and steam of a vintage coffee machine. You offer the theatre of coffee creation and premium feel without compromising on time.
The proof is in the serve
Ultimately, great coffee is what matters. Choose high quality, fresh beans that offer the flavor profile your customers want. Deliver a quality experience from the moment someone walks in the door to when they take their last sip.
Serve coffee with skill and flair. Show your customers you care about them and they'll come back time and time again.
Jane Freeman is a Resourcing Partner at Selecta, the leading European vending solutions and coffee services supplier.