We all are passionate about coffee. We gladly burn hours upon hours practicing, thinking, blogging, watching, and learning all about how we can prepare the coffee with excellence.

But do we clean our cafes with the kind of care that we use in preparing a great coffee?

Almost every cafe I go to, including the famous ones you would think would be different, have obvious lapses in cleanliness.

So my question is this...

How do you measure up when it comes to cleaning? Not just the bar (although that is a huge issue for baristas that think it is "cool" to be messy") but cleaning the cafe...and keeping it clean.

I tell my baristas that during and after a rush, the bar should look the same as it did when you opened...spotless. That is the standard to shoot for.

What measures can you take to be self inspired and clean better in the future?

We as a community need to be passionate about this are of our job. If we are not, then no matter how good a barista we think we are, we are second rate at best.




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Good question and I agree on the goal of keeping the bar looking like it does when first opened. I am a clean person by nature (wife calls it OCD), but I know the drinks we create can only be at their absolute best if everything is clean and dialed in. That is what drives me to keep everything as spotless/ready as possible.

One thought I have: Hire the neat freaks, look for the ones that might be a bit OCD. Of course, that isn't always a safe criteria. I'm a bit of a slob at home, but obsessive about where stuff is kept in my work area at the bakery. One of my pet peeves: coworkers slide the empty filter basket back in the Fetco, water condenses inside, drips onto the brewing stand and dribbles on the counter. Sure it's just water, but it bugs me.

Another thought: have a detailed cleaning program. Spell it out. Reward those that stick to it conscientiously. Be willing to consider shop options that limit messes, i.e. no condiment station for customers. Everytime the shop gets a 100 from the health inspector, throw a party! If an employee suggests a cleaning product or tool to aid in shop cleaning, buy it! If it doesn't get used, ask why not.

Don't get me started!

Were it left to me, only OCD people would be hired in the first place, because none of us need to be ignited with any more passion than we already have.

Mess, and busy, have nothing to do with each other. The busiest co-workers I've ever followed never once left any mess behind. Never.

On the other hand, I've had to follow idiots who put their milk pitchers on top of the espresso machine and had managed to splashed syrups on every single surface behind the counter.

If they can lean against the milk fridge texting on their phone while I'm cleaning, sorry, but there is nothing that can be done to ignite them.

Hmm...no, maybe that's not true. They can be FIRED! Fired is related to ignited, right?



Ha, yeah...


I think the "Be clean and neat or you're fired" is quite marvelous

I can't handle any mess on the bar, we've got no syrups, our shots are pre dosed, and all milk is by the drink so really I don't see anyway the bar should ever get dirty, and yet! there are some people that can manage to spill grounds on the counter and get things sticky. I keep three cloths on the machine at all times, one for milk, one for the portafilter, and one for the counter, this way I think everything gets a quick wipe after every drink and everything should stay clean. I don't know how to keep people motivated to do it, but I think people will be more willing to do it if it is quick and easy, How to do that every but the machine I don't know.

for those 'baristas' that think it's cool to be dirty,

simply allow them to compete or even volunteer in a regional SCAA competition.




that'll change their thinking real fast.


it's so not cool to be a dirty barista.

Let me also add that while a barista should be clean and responsible in their bar manner...

ultimately when I see a dirty bar I see a lazy and dirty manager/owner. Standards come from the top down. So if the barista is given a low standard from the outset then the results should be obvious.


I think it's quite fair to say to your employees that you're paying them for every minute they're there so if they're not making coffee or serving customers they're expected to be cleaning. As an employee, that's how I think about it! 

Geoffrey Carroll said:

Ha, yeah...


I think the "Be clean and neat or you're fired" is quite marvelous

I think it's a good starting point to address the possible attitudes that the dirty workers might have towards cleaning. It's quite obvious that to ignite the passion for cleaning these attitudes need to be changed.


In psychology there's generally two theories behind human motivation and they might roughly be divided to "stick and carrot"-theories and pitchfork-theories. Generally people are willing to modify their behavior if they are getting some kind of price or if they are avoiding some kind of a punishment.


The Detailed cleaning program suggested by Paul Yates might be an excellent idea. It's much easier for the workers to keep up with the routine if they have a routine to follow. If there's a checkbox that the cleaner needs to sign, it might also address the diffusion of responsibility that's a common problem within groups.


Working the gains and punishments around the cleaning program list is also easier. There's a classic way of behavior modification called token economy system that has yielded great results among children with conduct disorder etc. It basically works around a detailed plan on what to do and what not to do. Doing things proper gives you something nice when on the other hand arsing get's different kind of results.


We personally have a worker who used to be somewhat messy. I reminded him for few days not to clean and encouraged him to mess up even more always when he had some extra time. Today he's much more cleanser than he was before and takes pride in keeping things clean. Paradoxical messages have their place too.

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