For you baristas working in a high volume store, do you pull the shots and let the barback steam the milk? I know the barback would take care of everything else to get it to the customer; I'm just unsure whether or not you'd actually steam the milk as well. And, is it acceptable to have two baristas with one pulling the shots and the other steaming the milk? Would that piss off a barista? I know this might seem like a lame-ass question, but I'm trying to learn as much as possible. Thanks!

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With orders to take, cups to prep, pastries to fetch, and questions to answer, I'd imagine the bar-back would be plenty busy enough. Efficiency of lay-out and motions really helps with getting drinks out in a timely manner.

You should be able to pull shots and steam milk so they finish at the same time. Pull two doubles at a time if needed. There are ways to increase productivity.

Now, if on that particular bar, it is the barback's job to help froth milk, assemble drinks, or what have you, then that's what they should do.

I don't think there's much of a standard in the way of the roll of barbacks, and it really depends on the shop, the culture, and the in-house training program.
Agreed. At Trabant, the barback takes the orders, prepares and Clover coffee, and makes all the teas.

The barista does everything else, when it comes to drinks. Pitcher goes out, shot is prepped and extracted, steaming begins and the shots and milk finish around the same time.

45 sec. max. (if everything is laid out well). Personally, I feel that witht he way our barback system works, if they were to steam milk as well, things would crumble. that's too much for our barback. Like Jason said, it all depends on your shop and what you're offering and how you are set-up.
I shot an operational overview video of Caffe Artigiano (a super busy cafe in Vancouver). They have a system to handle the volume with 3 people on the espresso machine...but, watch the video which will explain easier than words:

http://www.slayerespresso.com/2007/10/26/an-operational-overview-ca...

Jason
I really appreciate the effort, but I don't see a video.

Do you happen to have an independent link to the video?

p.s. - I didn't know you had a blog. Added it to my reader list.
Odd - I see the link in my post and tested it. Did you let the blog page fully load? The video in in the middle of the page.

If you dont see it, go to YouTube and search on: slayerespresso (one word)

This will pull the video up for you.
That got it. (yes I did )

Thanks.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=a6oo8jCsfy0

"#1 barista only pours latte art".. jeebus, so you get really good, and then you're a do-nothing princess? lol
I'm sorry but watching that video it looks like there is a lot of time spent where the steam wands and several of the groups aren't even being utilized....

...for real
At my job, for the high volume times, we have 3 people: register op (taking orders, getting drip coffee and tea, pastries), a barback (running drinks out [table service], assisting the regop and barista as much as possible), and then the barista (doing everything on the espresso machine). If it gets ugly busy, we either utilize the barback on the bar itself more (steaming milk and then running the drink out), or we have a 2nd barista, who just steams milk.
We have 2 machines, and we'll usually have 1 barista working each machine. But, we have in the past had one pull shots, and one steam milk. If the baristas work together, and time it all out, that works out really good, as well. I guess it depends on how busy you get. We'll literally have 300 people come into the shop at once, when that goes on we'll get both baristas slamming out drinks on each side, and that works out.
We have been using a dual barista system for the last 5 years and has worked out great for us. It did take some getting used to. In our store both people on the espresso machine are both fully trained baristas. At times we do give very specific assignments based on peoples best skills; like the best latte artist steaming and pouring, or the most consistent tamp and doser pulling the shots.
Normally we have 3 people working (during the winters we need 4 people on in the mornings because we're located inside another building, and get a morning rush). When its 3 people working we have one at register (who will also grab drip coffee), we have the lead barista, and then the 3rd person (who does set ups for the barista, brews drip coffee, gets teas and if the barista needs them to speed things up then they steam milk). The term "barbacking" we use to describe when a trainer and train-y have already done their instructing days and now are doing paractical training. And if thats the case, the trainer steams the first half of the morning (when the costumers are a little more particular about their milk) the train-y pulls shots. In the afternoon they switch spots. When its two fully trained people on bar, we refer to them both as baristas, becasue they both are pulling their own weight and niether is really backing the other. Thats the 3rd person's job.
I hope that help!
And I'm going to throw out there that I'm way jealous of the two machines situation!!!!
that would rock!

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