how many hours would you like to work in a coffee/espresso shop, ideally?!

hey all!  moving on into february, hope everyone makes the leap successfully!  

i posted a discussion before about offering free refills, or half-priced, etc., etc.  wowwa!, got alot of feedback on that one...some education, some insight, even some venom! what peeked my interest was how different approaches work well for one shop, but maybe not so well for another.  i really appreciated everyone's response, and even picked up a couple new friends along the way!  wowwa!

my discussion this time tends to haunt me as well.  so, i'm curious, and i guess my question about 'how many hours would you like to work in a coffee/espresso shop, ideally?!' is sort of posed from the approach of "if this was a perfect world" type of question, okay?  and you can answer from the viewpoint of owner, manager, employee, etc.

the question has kind of haunted me for a while for mixed reasons.  from experience, i've stood in a mobile kiosk with a measured interior workspace of 3' x 3' for over 17 hours, as owner, and have earned good money.  other times i've sat in that same space for 12 hours and have had gross sales of $6 for the entire day.  ouch.

and, during either of those examples, i've had incredible highs!: like, this is exactly where i want to be, and exactly what i love doing!  even during some of the long, long days, when its raining cats and dogs out (i began my business primarily working equestrian events), and i'm going broke fast. yikes! but, i've really enjoyed being in my little space, feeling snug and secure, smelling the great coffee aroma, sipping that delicious red-eye (one after another!), great tunes playing, all while staying warm and dry.

but, sometimes, admittedly, i say this whole sha-bang is nuts!!  i'm into my 9th hour, 10th hour, here comes #11...what the...?!  whatever happened to the balance?!  i can recall jobs where 8 hours was the norm, right?  i see ads in the classified stating "must be able to stoop, stand, and bend, and sometimes reach for 6 hours at a stretch." holy mocha!...that sounds like a dream!  6 hours!...could i make it through a shift?!

yeah, i'd love to open at noon, offer dreamcoffee-in-a-cup for about 4 hours, enjoy a few incredible red-eyes throughout the afternoon, educate a bunch of customers about the versatility and character of various beans & roast profiles, then back the new clubman up to the door and load up the sacks of $$$, and call it a day!!

but, i know somewhere between long hours, and long, long, long hours is closer to this reality, you know?

so, what about you?!  how many hours would you like to work, ideally?

 

thanks mucho grande!,

 

sage

the coffee hound

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hey for me as a barista in a high volume shop in the height of the season i would say 5 to 6 hour shifts are the maximum amount of hours i can handle working a 5 or 6 day work week. in the off season it is easy to work the same work week but with 6-8 hour days. it all depends on how busy you get and how much of a mess you make. also depends if your the only to close the shop at the end of the day.....making and serving drinks while chit chatting with the customers doesnt feel like work. But when it comes down to you and the mess youve made that when the hours tend to feel long. not sure what your shop is like and how your employees shifts are...but i hope this gives you a point of view from a hardworking employee.

hey, hardworking employee, eric!  thanks for the reply!  thanks for your input and your point of view...yes, that's pretty much what i'm after--your angle on the whole work shift/work load thing...appreciate that!  loved that line where you said, ..."it all depends on how busy you get and how much of a mess you make."  that's the truth, isn't it?!  what area are you in, and what type of shop do you barista in?

 

appreciate,

 

sage

the coffee hound

I work in a very busy coffee shop and our shifts are somewhere between 6-10 hours, depending on whether you're opening or closing. I think if the shop is high volume, an 8 hour shift is ideal as you put your head down and your bum up and just go for broke. You get the coffee zen going on. Also, if your shop has a social vibe an 8 hour shift doesn't seem that long because you're being chatty with customers and socialising which makes it fun.

 

However, I've worked in slower shops and 8 hours seems like a lifetime. I also think that it's hard for any cafe worker to work open until close- psychologically you feel your whole day is wasted. It's depressing to set up and then think "I'm here until the punters stop coming...ugh". Also, opens have their own set of challenges and tasks, as do closes. It sucks to have to do The Lot- it makes you feel kind of taken for granted! (Although at my present shop, open-close shifts are rare and only in emergencies when staff are sick etc so it's not an issue for me to do them occasionally to help the crew out!)

 

6 hours is a good shift, you don't feel like your entire day has been taken from you and you're not as tired at the end- but money-wise 6 hour shifts aren't ideal as you don't make a full time wage if you do that 5 days a week! A 5-6 hour shift (a "half day" at my work) are nice occasionally, or when working part time, but I wouldn't want to do them all the time!

those are some good thoughts you added, laura, thanks!  i hear what you're saying about the coffee zen experience...i've experienced that myself at my shops, too.  i guess i do prefer those busier times that make the time seem to go by faster, plus the challenge of meeting the demand is kind of like a game in a way, you know?  those slow times do pose their own unique challenges, too, whether you are an hourly paid employee, or whether you are owner/manager.  i loved your line: ..."put your head down and your bum up and just go for broke."!  i'll probably remember that everytime i'm on the firing line now!

 

sage

the coffee hound

Laura Campbell said:

I work in a very busy coffee shop and our shifts are somewhere between 6-10 hours, depending on whether you're opening or closing. I think if the shop is high volume, an 8 hour shift is ideal as you put your head down and your bum up and just go for broke. You get the coffee zen going on. Also, if your shop has a social vibe an 8 hour shift doesn't seem that long because you're being chatty with customers and socialising which makes it fun.

 

However, I've worked in slower shops and 8 hours seems like a lifetime. I also think that it's hard for any cafe worker to work open until close- psychologically you feel your whole day is wasted. It's depressing to set up and then think "I'm here until the punters stop coming...ugh". Also, opens have their own set of challenges and tasks, as do closes. It sucks to have to do The Lot- it makes you feel kind of taken for granted! (Although at my present shop, open-close shifts are rare and only in emergencies when staff are sick etc so it's not an issue for me to do them occasionally to help the crew out!)

 

6 hours is a good shift, you don't feel like your entire day has been taken from you and you're not as tired at the end- but money-wise 6 hour shifts aren't ideal as you don't make a full time wage if you do that 5 days a week! A 5-6 hour shift (a "half day" at my work) are nice occasionally, or when working part time, but I wouldn't want to do them all the time!

Ideally as an owner, I'd have five successful shops and a roasting facility. My day would be spent surfing and analyzing the daily report spreadsheets for a couple hours a night. One day a week, the store and roasting managers would virtually gather for a 2 hour company meeting. Once a month I would go to each facility for an hour and hand out bonuses to all my employees. I could do that throughout retirement.

dennis, wowwa!  you've got it all figured out...i like that!  sounds almost as good as winning the lottery!  i'm curious how many shops you have now?...how long have you been in the biz?  appreciate your response!

happy surfing and happy analyzing!,

 

sage

the coffee hound

6 hours = a shift, at least as far as im concerned. I've been consulting on start up cafes for a couple years now and owners for some reason (cough$$cough) always seems to throw down 3.5 hours shifts. if you hire right and appreciate the work & potential inflow your employees create show them you do by giving them an actual work day worth at least their travel time.

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