Monday, August 17, 2009

A cafe in Grey Lynn

Having owned and worked in cafes before, you sometimes come across the odd barista who thinks they are above everyone else on the planet and will "only make the coffee" and not assist with other tasks. Usually, these types can get away with the attitude because they are good at what they do and making coffee actually does have a science to it and seeing so many baristas bugger it up, when you get a good barista you tend to panda towards their insecurities in order to keep them on board.

If you have a good team in your cafe, the barista can be left to their own devices, because often the cashier will provide the smiley face, the kitchen team create the most delicious menus ever, the cafe assistants keep the cafe clean and tidy and warm and welcoming and the owners will work on the business and not in it, meaning you have a very happy team.

All good and well when this equation works. But what happens when it doesn't. What happens if the cashier is answering the phone or fixing the eftpos terminal, the cafe assistant is helping to clean up a spilt fluffy, the kitchen staff are tending to orders... well, who is left as the next point of contact for incoming customers? The owners probably aren't there, or they are upstairs in the office, oblivious to the mini chaos.. so the next point of contact would be the barista.

Yep. The surly, fierce looking, unwelcoming yet bloody brilliant at making coffee barista. The one who was hired purely for their excellent coffee making skills is now in charge of first impressions. Disaster much? Absolutely.

I am all about helping businesses reach their potential. Especially in this climate, a "bad" review doesn't help anyone. So this cafe in Grey Lynn that I go to on a quasi regular basis will remain nameless. I'm positive too that the barista doesn't care what I write here; they will get on with their day being the self-obsessed chump they are, continuing to make coffee. But on the off-chance that he/she reads this, and recognises the behaviour as their own... perhaps you might like to adjust it slightly for the good of the business and the good of the other customers you treat in this manner.

If you are a barista who has agreed with the owners to "only make the coffee" please know that sometimes you will be required to make eye-contact with customers when the usual team who would do this is busy.

1) If multi-tasking is a challenge for you, perhaps practice the eyebrow raise or if you can manage, even a smile to incoming customers. They will then know that you are as busy as hell and will be with them soon.

2) Granted, it's not in everyone's nature to smile. So if that is difficult for you, it's okay but absolutely don't be selective in your smiling and welcoming eyebrow raises. To smile at the first two customers, even manage a hello, and then to give a horrible evil look of death to the third customer, well that third customer might just get a bit of a complex. Especially if this evil look experience seems to happen to them all the time.

3) I know it's a pain, when you have stretched a large jug of full cream milk and someone asks for a trim... ask them if it's ok to have full cream or ask if they mind waiting while you use up the full cream. Passing off full cream as trim milk can potentially make someone rather ill and that isn't a nice thing to do someone is it?

4) Finally, it can be tough when you are in a working environment with a particularly attractive person. Perhaps someone you would really like to get to know better. How great is it when that person gives you the time of day and you are having a fabulous conversation! You're in! Uh-oh.. here is an annoying customer! Someone who wants to buy something from you and keep you in a job! What do you do? Decisions decisions! Here's what you don't do. Don't ever look at me as if I am worth less than the shit on your shoe. Do not continue your conversation and put your hand up to my face when I say hello to initiate my order for coffee being taken. And do not then make me feel like I am imposing by coming into the cafe to get a coffee.

Thanks fo reading! Hope you have a fabulous day!


  1. Good grief, thats a shocker! Hope you won't darken their door again. Definitely tell the owner at some point or even direct them this this blog?