The barista’s impact on your business can be immense because of their personal influence over product quality, presentation, and customer satisfaction. Considering your barista’s professional experience, methods, and the expectations you place upon them, in addition to coffee preparation, will be key in determining the best espresso machine for you and your business.
The barista’s primary objective is not only to deliver quality beverages but to also deliver those beverages tasting consistently the same. Baristas who work with traditional style espresso equipment are closely involved in the steps that prepare coffee beans for brewing as well as the timing and observation of the poor. Additionally, some baristas are also engaged in profiling. Profiling requires a high level of understanding about coffee, something similar to a wine steward or sommelier. Baristas, who are responsible for profiling determine the best dosing weight, water volume, and brewing time to highlight and feature the unique qualities of the specific coffee within the roast. This article will only focus on the barista who has been provided an established profile and is responsible specifically for the constitution of the beverages presented to the consumer.
For many of us, a part of espresso style coffee is thought of as creative or artful which means we have an expectation or assumption of human influence. Traditionally, espresso equipment has been made, whether purposefully or not, to allow a barista points of influence or the ability to bring a definitive skill to the espresso experience. The problem with the human influence is that it can, and often will, create variation. Although you may believe variety is a good thing, and it is in some circumstances, inconsistency is considered something to avoid in the food and beverage industry.
Consistency for the espresso business has been so difficult to secure that many well-known retailers have abandoned the traditional espresso machine and have turned to the super-automatic espresso machines. Minimally, super-automatic espresso machines eliminate the influence of the barista during dosing and tamping, the preparation steps in which most errors or inconsistencies occur and are proving that not only can they deliver high quality beverages, they can do it dependably. Super-automatic espresso machines are also safer for baristas because they provide protection against repetitive motion injuries The change toward the newest generation of super-automatic espresso machines has been met with mixed reviews, maybe only because the loss of the barista’s influence just feels wrong nevertheless; retailers who use super-automatics understand consistency is imperative to a successful espresso bar business.
I am not saying that if you want consistent beverages you need a super-automatic espresso machine. What I am saying is, if you want to work with traditional espresso equipment and remain dedicated to offering espresso style brewed coffee, your biggest challenge will be delivering quality consistent products. In many ways, even though this may seem odd, you need your barista team and equipment to act very much like the super-automatic espresso machine, functioning and working the same way, all the time.
There are some simple reasons an espresso bar will lack consistency in its beverages and those reasons center around the barista and the equipment. Establishing preparation and adjustment procedures is the easiest and most important step anyone can take towards eliminating or reducing inconsistencies. If baristas measure, dispense, or tamp differently the change in the end product can be dramatic. This is easily recognized when customers request specific baristas. Unfortunately, customers quickly realize it will also be a gamble if they stop off at your business and may decide to move on.
Just like variance in product preparation, baristas need to clearly know what actions to take in regards to addressing equipment issues. Maintaining product quality will become difficult or impossible under some conditions, such as when equipment is too small for the operating environment, worn, or in poor working conditions. Other reasons your equipment may affect your products is when brewing temperatures or pump pressure become unstable. Whatever it is, your barista will be required to take action to overcome these circumstances. How your barista reacts should be strictly defined by you.
When hiring experienced baristas remember they have a way of doing things, a method. Be aware that hiring an experienced barista means you will also be hiring that method, any incomplete training, or developed habits they may have obtained on the way to your employment. Experienced baristas view the way they prepare coffee and react to equipment issues as the correct way. Asking someone to change their method can be challenging especially, if their way of doing things has worked for them in the past. Train all your baristas the method that you select, which should also include procedures that address equipment behavior and product quality.
Lastly, there are three aspects to an espresso beverage:
The cost, its quality and the speed in which it is delivered. If your customers expect their beverages to be delivered quickly and at a reasonable price, you may want to consider working within the broadest range of your coffee’s profile. The importance of speed and reasonable cost may be important enough to your customers that waiting for your barista to refine their shot will not be worth it to them. Consider purchasing equipment that has strong brewing stability and features that help compensate for product preparation errors. On the other hand, if your business caters to a more relaxed clientele and the price for your beverages is higher than the average drive-thru, your parameters should be more strict and narrow. Purchasing equipment that aid your barista to meet those stricter parameters should be a priority.
As you shop for new espresso equipment, fully consider the responsibilities and expectations you place upon your baristas, as well as any physical limitations they may have. For many, the duties of a barista are secondary to their primary position and responsibilities, simplifying the process should be a priority in your equipment considerations. Today’s espresso equipment can offer multiple options or features that assist baristas in controlling, monitoring and refining parameters as well as help them in compensating for preparation errors. If you have heard that a specific espresso machine is best, it is probably because it is viewed in a certain type of operating environment where unique conditions are not considered or acknowledged. All espresso machines have limitations, even the most expensive. Purchasing a machine that lacks operational characteristics for your specific dynamics only means you could have had something that would have worked better for you. Find a company dedicated to espresso equipment, such as Inland Espresso Solutions, where you can receive solid advice on equipment designs and attributes that will meet your budget, as well as your unique challenges.
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