The barista in a café is so often overlooked or undervalued. Today I will discuss the importance of a good barista, and what expectations you should have before hiring one in your establishment.
The barista in many cases is the easiest way to form an initial connection with your customers. This is a connection that can then be bridged to other products in your café and ultimately with your café in general. Coffee drinkers are now more educated about coffee. They can see by the barista’s confidence and pour how good their coffee can be. A bad initial impression can leave a sour taste to your customer’s coffee. At a time when our customers are most educated about the coffee making process, there is no room for error here. You must make a good impression.
When hiring an experienced barista I often ask them to make me a few quick coffees behind one of my machines.
I ask them to make me a cappuccino, a latte and a short macchiato. I choose these coffees because the milk needs to be perfect for good presentation and there is very little room for error. It also gives them the opportunity to wow me with latte art and flair. I always have them prepare these coffees in crockery/glass never takeaway cups so that you can see exactly how the coffee is presented. I’ll quicky give the applicant a run down on the machine so they know where the buttons are and how the grinder works, then I hand them the cups, milk jugs and milk and ask them to make me coffee.
You should look for the following things during this demonstration:
Cleanliness – Do they leave excessive loose grind around the grinder and do they clean this after their coffee demonstration.
Do they tamp flat and with confidence?
Do they clean their lug nuts and lip of the porta filter prior to locking onto the machine?
Do they start the extraction immediately after locking the group handle on?
Do they identify what a good extraction looks like, and can they advise you what they would do to the grinder to correct a fast or slow extraction?
Do they free pour, without a spatula or spoon?
Do they wipe and purge the steam wand following heating the milk?
Have they ever used a pedestal and stretched the milk unattended? (useful in busy and quiet cafes)
Do there coffees present perfectly?
Do you feel the compulsion to take a photo of their coffee?
If you can tick all of these boxes you’ve found your next barista. If your current barista doesn’t meet all of the above items they need to do something towards correcting this immediately, or you do.
A strange thing about how a barista is perceived and the coffee is judged by your customers.
I have some great baristas working in my cafes, they have to be because they chew through a large volume of beans daily. But a peculiar thing has transpired through customer feedback forms over the last two years. We began to notice that our most charismatic and customer service orientated baristas were scoring higher on the taste of their coffees and speed of service, even alongside cafes where another barista clearly produced better coffee on better equipment and serviced customers much faster.
This resonates one thing loud and clear for me. Hire enigmatic customer service orientated staff. Their rapport with your customers will bridge any shortcoming you may have in comparison to your competition and have them raving about not only your service but your products also.
It is absolutely true what they say “Things do taste better when made with love” Love what you do, and do what you do with love.