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Workflow - To speak or not to be speak ?

As an international barista I have worked in many cafes all over the world and I pride myself on being able to adapt to every one of those bars and one thing I have found is the key aspect of workflow. Before the great staff shortage of 2022 occurred in hospitality, typically there were two baristas working the machine, three if you were lucky or especially busy. Finding out whether the baristas were high communicators as opposed to “reading cues” was interesting and usually a deal breaker if you couldn’t adapt to either of these things.

Most bars have the workflow of person on shots and person on milk. It does the differ on cafes whether the milk person or shots person is “Boss” , much like a dance routine, for awesome workflow one person leads and the other follows. For the communicative workflows I have seen, if the shots person is “Boss” then it would look like this “I got 3 lattes for you to combine, whilst you steam those I will smash out these black coffees” this continual speaking is a way to keep the flow going, no second is wasted. Alternatively if milk is “boss” they may say “Can you prioritize these three shots for these lattes and focus on blacks whilst I steam”. Now I must also add, these orders may not be quite so polite, (typically hearing “Give me 3 shots”) again this changes with each café.

Now I have had the pleasure of working in cafes where it wasn’t normal to discuss these things, in fact in some cafes its deemed very tedious, inefficient or distracting. There also has been some events where you cannot speak, and just smash out coffees. The way it usually works each person has their role and the other doesn’t get in the way. It requires a lot of concentration and I have found can take away from looking up as it means you are looking down at those dockets a whole lot. It requires you keeping those dockets clean and safe, the shots person decides on the order of the coffees and keeps their shots together with the docket. An example, they keep a few dockets in their station but the second they do a shot for a latte, they move the shot off the machine and keep the docket under the cup and slide that to the milk person. These establishments tend to be very strict, the milk person focuses on the customers and NEVER takes a shot off the machine, keeps to the shots given with the dockets.

Let me reiterate there is no right or wrong way. If you are smashing out coffees before 7 minutes then you do you boo. However, these are just examples. Each bar has a different set up and different skills to the team, that are utilized accordingly. If you are looking to change the workflow, assess where is the till, where is the pick up point. Do you do table service, do you have a barista who loves to pour latte art but are introverted AF. Have a play, try it out and find your flow. Have fun folks.

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