And Greetings from Australia (for those who aren't here, of course.)
I started out in Tullahoma, Tennessee, at The Celtic Cup Coffee House, trained by the owners, who had gone to the ABC. I loved it. Without trying to "toot my own horn," as it were, I swiftly became a pretty good Barista.
I marry an Aussie girl, and move to Australia. Applying for every job I can find from retail, to rental, to cafe, I finally got a call back from a cafe that's not even open yet, wanting "coffee and cafe experience." Going to the interview, turns out he wants someone to completely run the coffee side of the establishment, kinda so he doesn't have to worry that much about how it's run...and by someone, he now means me. ^.^;
While I fancy myself a pretty good Barista, I've never really attempted to completely run a business. He's gonna take care of the finances and everything, he just wants me to set everything up, tell him what we need, put it together, and run it. Needless to say,I'm a tad nervous.
So, this place has yet to open...and I'm just finishing the details on what we need on countertop (espresso grinders, knock box, additional sink, etc). I'm just wondering if anyone might have any additional information they might like to share in assistance? Since I must also train new Baristas, if anyone has any "cheat sheets" (what drinks consist of what percentage espresso and steamed milk, etc) they could offer, I'd be eternally grateful.
Have you checked in your local area for espresso machine repairs?
I would find out which machines that your closest repair companies service ... ask them which machines they have the least problems with, but that they also keep parts in stock for so there's no long wait time or exorbitant fees for air-shipping to quickly get your machine back up ... you can also ask about their loaner options while your machine is being repaired. A great machine, treated properly and given routine maintenance can go years without needing any major repairs.
Your coffee blends (especially for your espresso) are really a matter of personal preference and which flavors you are trying to evoke in your finished drinks.
Do you want people to think of your espresso as a citrusy zap of wakefullness, or a calm and mellow sip of satisfaction? Keep in mind that whatever your blend, it should produce an excellent stand-alone espresso shot since that's the foundation of the rest of your drink menu.
From personal experience (personal key, so no haters dog me on this) the optimal espresso blend will be so good that you can brew it also as your house signature drip blend and it taste wonderful that way too. Some places use a single origin coffee and go more for the roast of the bean to make it their "espresso", but my experience (personal again) has been that a blend of 3 to 5 beans (each roasted to their own perfect degree) can produce the most exciting taste profiles.
It's also important that you note the exact taste profile of your blend and teach your employees to recognize it ... and catch it if a bean or roast has been substituted by your roaster due to supply issues. While your roaster should inform you of any substitutions, whatever the reason, a master roaster can target and almost match your custom taste profile using similar beans at similar roasts.
I hope that helps Luke :-)
Keep the questions coming,
Sorry it's taken me so long to respond.
This was an extreme help. Thank you so much.
We think we're going to go with a Sanremo Venezia LX. Mostly just because the owner wants to actually own our own machine.
As for my next question; would it be possible to get a cheat sheet of all coffee based drinks that can be made (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and what proportions of espresso, milk, and froth make up each? We're going to start out small, of course, and just ask people what they want. Being in Australia, that will be flat whites, long blacks, etc. But, I want the option of giving a full range of traditional Italian drinks, like cafe au lait, con panna, etc. If I could get a sheet detailing each drink, it would make training significantly easier.
Thanks, again, for any more help, mate.