When Business is crazy busy, I'll steam in a bigger pitcher, then pour the appropriate amount of steamed milk into a preheated 20 ounce pitcher to do my art. I am self taught and never received any tips on what to do. What does everyone else do when the line is out the door and up to 18 drinks on an order?

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Generally, I keep 4-5 20 oz. pitchers chillin' in my lowboy, along with a 32 oz. in the event that I get a couple identical drink orders that I can knock out with one pitcher. Honestly though, I've always been of the opinion that I would rather take the the extra 30 seconds it takes to pour/steam a fresh pitcher for each drink instead of reusing a larger pitcher. I mean, you've gotta pull their shot anyways, so why not use that time to steam up some liquid velvet? Also, though, if I've got a line out the door...and some joker just placed an order for 18 drinks in my lunch rush...I'm going to make every drink to the best of my ability without putting myself in danger of falling behind. If that means you have to accept that your drinks will taste delicious, but won't have a perfect rosetta. Well, so be it. I've always said that the way it tasted was more important than the way it looked, and I'm pretty sure you'd have a hard time finding anybody who disagreed. (That being said, if your milk is steamed well, it's difficult to not have a good looking drink.)
I have switched to non art drink so I can keep up with the line, but the customers who come in for my drinks ask me for remake the drink. People know me and want art on their lattes and caps. I usually at these points steam milk and have another barista do the pour so I don't look bad.
I've tried to do similar things, like the milk sharing between a larger and smaller pitcher you describe. In my experience, though, texture and freshness always suffer. For that matter, all the milk back and forth plus the extra grooming and swirling it requires seems to take about the same amount of time as using a few extra pitchers. I found myself with drinks getting bunched up, putting 2 or 3 out at once. It may have been slightly faster with the big pitcher, but the drop in drink quality and added confusion between customers grabbing for drinks has dissuaded me. About the only time I use the huge ones anymore are for orders of "4 large skim chai's" and the like.

A boss at a shop I used to work at had a real elaborate system. He had one, sometimes two, 20oz going almost continuously, sitting up on the rail, which he would dump into a larger pitcher when it got hot, and fill it and start steaming again immediately. He would pour his drinks out of the large pitcher, restricting flow with a spoon as foam need dictated. I don't know how, exactly, but he was able to get appropriate latte texture, even with a spoon jammed in there. None of that 'scoop some foam on top' business. The reasoning behind it was something like this: The larger volume of milk in the pouring pitcher was more temperature stable, allowing for more flex time to pull shots. Conversely, the smaller pitcher(s) would heat faster than the same volume in one go (12oz of milk, say, back to back, rather than 24 oz all at once). Once he got up to speed, with about 4-6 drinks in his line, I would work the register as fast as possible, line to the door, just trying to add another cup onto the line, but orders could not be taken fast enough to get ahead of him. It was a sight to see.

Has anyone else had real success with a system like Laurence's? It seems like there's a lot of potential, but I haven't got it figured out.
We subscribe to the one drink at a time theory for every espresso beverage with latte art on every milk beverage. Our mantra is quality, consistency, service. I don't know how a huge pitcher of milk steamed and poured into multiple drinks will maintain the correct temperature and consistency. We also are not the kind of shop where a customer walks in the door during a lunch rush and orders 18 espresso beverages...that's lame.
The drink order is for 18 person group, all of them wanting to sit inside to enjoy their drinks. This shop is a night time hot spot.
I prefer to make one drink at a time, but I want to find tips on how to make latte art when busy.
Instead of free pour latte art, you can make yourself several templates of whatever. Put the template on top of the cup and sprinkle cocoa powder on top. It's petty cool to look at especially if you have those stainless steel shakers and bang your spoon on top of it like at those Benihana restaurants. But still nothing as sweet as a nicely poured rosetta.

Laurence said:
The drink order is for 18 person group, all of them wanting to sit inside to enjoy their drinks. This shop is a night time hot spot.
I prefer to make one drink at a time, but I want to find tips on how to make latte art when busy.
What if you worked in pairs of drinks and poured both from a 30 oz pitcher? Haven't tried this, but can't see how it would be different than pouring a tulip, where you poured with a pause in the middle. Maybe half fill each cup, then did the art on the second part of the pour. Not like you are really pouring 18 drinks at a time... you probably are pulling doubles in pairs anyway. Just an idea, I'll play with it later.
I would be careful with the templates. People who drink lattes sometimes do not like cocoa on their drink unless they ordered it. Plus it takes less time to pour latte art than it does to whip out a stencil for every drink!
Pouring for big orders is difficult.
You cannot do it together.
The trick is to separate in order of priority. People who order regular lattes come first, flavored second, small regular drinks next, espressos. and lastly decaf.
the logic is this: Keep caffeinated individuals first because they are nursing an addiction and will be less patient,
-larger drinks first because it gives you the opportunity to adjust the grind if it is off by a second or two(not advocating bad shots but a shot that is one or two seconds out of ideal will be fine in 12-16 ounce bevs,
-next is the flavored...yet another opportunity to be reading those shots in preparation for the naked truth of the flavor in you small drinks and reg shot...also if you steam flavor into the milk(which is PERFECTLY FINE...DOES NOT CAUSE MACHINE TROUBLE) you can utilize any small amount of milk left over from the non flavored lattes.
-next small caffeinated. By now you have made micro adjustments so that the shot quality will will really shine in the small volume of milk...if flavored is ordered do the reg first flavored last...
-next espresso...(of course if you feel it is perfect in the beginning you can serve it right away)
-last is decaf...
You may also just want to get the purists satisfied immediately and get to the flavor crowd later.
Point is that you have to have a system set up that gives you a game plan for every possible combination that maybe ordered from your menu...lots of people just put things on the menu and think nothing of it...until people start ordering. At first at a trickle its fine...but when the rush hits...now your in the weeds and it's all because you planned your menu over time for efficiency on a slow bar and were surprised by a fast one...rather than the other way round.
This system helped me when working at Carriage House Cafe in Ithaca as we were a restaurant and had tickets for whole tables com in at the same time.
You can split milk for 6-12 ounces...12 is harder and may actually take more time as the steaming is doubled and you have to take time to pour off into another pitcher as you go...this isn't so much a factor with 6 ounce.

Work flow for the barista should be an exercise in efficiency.

Hope this helps...in the end...customers will always have to wait...we just make sure to pretend like they should'nt
This is very helpful. I'm going to copy and print this to share with everyone. Thank you.

Deferio said:
I would be careful with the templates. People who drink lattes sometimes do not like cocoa on their drink unless they ordered it. Plus it takes less time to pour latte art than it does to whip out a stencil for every drink!
Pouring for big orders is difficult.
You cannot do it together.
The trick is to separate in order of priority. People who order regular lattes come first, flavored second, small regular drinks next, espressos. and lastly decaf.
the logic is this: Keep caffeinated individuals first because they are nursing an addiction and will be less patient,
-larger drinks first because it gives you the opportunity to adjust the grind if it is off by a second or two(not advocating bad shots but a shot that is one or two seconds out of ideal will be fine in 12-16 ounce bevs,
-next is the flavored...yet another opportunity to be reading those shots in preparation for the naked truth of the flavor in you small drinks and reg shot...also if you steam flavor into the milk(which is PERFECTLY FINE...DOES NOT CAUSE MACHINE TROUBLE) you can utilize any small amount of milk left over from the non flavored lattes.
-next small caffeinated. By now you have made micro adjustments so that the shot quality will will really shine in the small volume of milk...if flavored is ordered do the reg first flavored last...
-next espresso...(of course if you feel it is perfect in the beginning you can serve it right away)
-last is decaf...
You may also just want to get the purists satisfied immediately and get to the flavor crowd later.
Point is that you have to have a system set up that gives you a game plan for every possible combination that maybe ordered from your menu...lots of people just put things on the menu and think nothing of it...until people start ordering. At first at a trickle its fine...but when the rush hits...now your in the weeds and it's all because you planned your menu over time for efficiency on a slow bar and were surprised by a fast one...rather than the other way round.
This system helped me when working at Carriage House Cafe in Ithaca as we were a restaurant and had tickets for whole tables com in at the same time.
You can split milk for 6-12 ounces...12 is harder and may actually take more time as the steaming is doubled and you have to take time to pour off into another pitcher as you go...this isn't so much a factor with 6 ounce.

Work flow for the barista should be an exercise in efficiency.

Hope this helps...in the end...customers will always have to wait...we just make sure to pretend like they should'nt
Kudos to you. It's amazing how hard we bust our butts to make customers feel like it's a nice cozy place to chill. If they only knew how it is behind the scenes.

Deferio said:
I would be careful with the templates. People who drink lattes sometimes do not like cocoa on their drink unless they ordered it. Plus it takes less time to pour latte art than it does to whip out a stencil for every drink!
Pouring for big orders is difficult.
You cannot do it together.
The trick is to separate in order of priority. People who order regular lattes come first, flavored second, small regular drinks next, espressos. and lastly decaf.
the logic is this: Keep caffeinated individuals first because they are nursing an addiction and will be less patient,
-larger drinks first because it gives you the opportunity to adjust the grind if it is off by a second or two(not advocating bad shots but a shot that is one or two seconds out of ideal will be fine in 12-16 ounce bevs,
-next is the flavored...yet another opportunity to be reading those shots in preparation for the naked truth of the flavor in you small drinks and reg shot...also if you steam flavor into the milk(which is PERFECTLY FINE...DOES NOT CAUSE MACHINE TROUBLE) you can utilize any small amount of milk left over from the non flavored lattes.
-next small caffeinated. By now you have made micro adjustments so that the shot quality will will really shine in the small volume of milk...if flavored is ordered do the reg first flavored last...
-next espresso...(of course if you feel it is perfect in the beginning you can serve it right away)
-last is decaf...
You may also just want to get the purists satisfied immediately and get to the flavor crowd later.
Point is that you have to have a system set up that gives you a game plan for every possible combination that maybe ordered from your menu...lots of people just put things on the menu and think nothing of it...until people start ordering. At first at a trickle its fine...but when the rush hits...now your in the weeds and it's all because you planned your menu over time for efficiency on a slow bar and were surprised by a fast one...rather than the other way round.
This system helped me when working at Carriage House Cafe in Ithaca as we were a restaurant and had tickets for whole tables com in at the same time.
You can split milk for 6-12 ounces...12 is harder and may actually take more time as the steaming is doubled and you have to take time to pour off into another pitcher as you go...this isn't so much a factor with 6 ounce.

Work flow for the barista should be an exercise in efficiency.

Hope this helps...in the end...customers will always have to wait...we just make sure to pretend like they should'nt
Well...this is the life we have chosen.

We work hard and stress out so that our customers can get the stress out after they work hard!

livin the dream.
We'll often get as high as maybe 30 lids, but have 2 baristas working the machine during, so it's not too much of an issue. We just take it as it comes using 300ml, 600ml and 1L jugs as needed. If have in orders come up we do them with as much care as we would in the quieter periods - the Barista on shots will just move down to pick up the slack and continue smashing out the takeaways.

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