Hi there-

I'm a new barista going through my first week training. I have some coffee knowledge, and some espresso experience from long ago, but I'm far from an expert.

I'm having problems organizing my time during rush times.

We have a double handle machine. If a customer orders 3 16oz double lattes, what do you do? Do you steam milk first? In what size pitcher(s)? Do you make two at the same time and then a third? How long should it all take?

Do you ever put the milk pitcher down and multitask? I was told to always hold it but my new employer puts it down and does other things while it texturizes.

When you pull a shot, do you dump the portafilter puck right away or do you let it sit in the machine until you have to pull your next shot?

All of our larger drinks have the option of being triple shot drinks.  How do you pull a triple shot? Single then double? Double then single? Two doubles and a wasted fourth? We have a single handle, but is it efficient to estimate a change in grind, pull, and change the grinder back?

Thanks!

Ohh- and do you stir your iced lattes?  In what order do you make them? (Ice milk espresso vs milk espresso ice).

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Being fast in a rush is something that comes later, and something that you can't force or you will turn yourself into a nervous wreck. At our shop we always have at least one "senior barista" working at all times, usually accompaniedby one or two "junior baristas." It's their job during the rush to not only control the quality and pace of the drinks, but the tone of the shop as well. Chatting up regulars, laughing, and having a good time helps the junior baristas to not lose their minds, and it's more inviting to the customers. The girl that i was working with today is still relatively new. She has been a barista for about six months and is doing very well. During our rush this morning i saw her filling up a tea at our hot water dispenser with her left hand while rinsing a pitcher in the sink with her right. You don't think to do that kinda stuff when you're just starting. It was pretty cool.
I totally agree with jared btw. ice last.
Thank you all so much!

It's tough because there are so many how-to's and tutorials available online, but none of them are shown in a real setting.

From what I've gathered from y'all, I'm just trying to be better than my experience will let me. It'll come, I just have to be patient. So patient I will be.


Thanks again
Time yourself and consistently try to beat your time on each drink. Speed drills are the $h!t when you're trying to get fast. Actually, it's probably about time for me to put myself through some speed drills again, it's been a while.

-bry
Rather than adding to the discussion concerning technique, I would like to add one general comment:

Never sacrifice quality for speed.

Specialty coffee is, indeed, special. By nature, specialty espresso beverages take longer time to construct than McCafe drinks. Explain this to your customers, and encourage them in conversation. You have a great opportunity to influence someone's day; seize it! Have fun with your rushes!
well said! I would also like to add that you can still make proper milk by setting it down, however since we are in specialty coffee, charge that way and want respect, should we not be professionals and treat every step with pride and care. Heck if we are setting down milk when it steams are we not making it seem you can take a person out of the equalization. I just look at our job as a craft and skill and want to make every moment count. The interaction and watching of the preparation is part of what makes getting a drink from a true barista an experience lets try and keep it that way.

Mick (Matt) Evans said:
Rather than adding to the discussion concerning technique, I would like to add one general comment:

Never sacrifice quality for speed.

Specialty coffee is, indeed, special. By nature, specialty espresso beverages take longer time to construct than McCafe drinks. Explain this to your customers, and encourage them in conversation. You have a great opportunity to influence someone's day; seize it! Have fun with your rushes!
True.

Then again the person who just ordered the 16oz latte in question probably doesn't give a rats ass about the craft and skill and wanting to make every moment count.

They probably just want their drink.

So we, as people in the service industry, should probably try to get that drink to them before we piss them off. Like I said, if it's a small beverage I'm not setting the pitcher down because there is no advantage. But it isn't going to be the culinary art highlight of the day for most people. For most people it's something to peel their eyelids back in the morning. Baristas (myself included) tend to make things far more difficult than they have to be. Look at some of the dosing, distributing and tamping rituals out there, especially in home barista land. It's hilarious.

If a super-auto could beat, or even match, my drinks then as far as I'm concerned I'm not needed, and I'm not sure that I have the worlds biggest problem with that.

You want to talk about taking the person out of the equation? How about facial recognition adjusting a machine's parameters?
http://lamarzoccousa.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/a-sneak-preview-of-sc...
(and before someone goes all nuts... please note the date of the post... and pay attention to the comments... I'm just making a point of where we could be headed in the next few years)

My whole point was that after some practice your drinks can be exactly the same whether you set the pitcher down or not. If it makes me more efficient then I'm going to use it. Ask the customer to taste test a 16oz latte where you held onto the milk and one where you didn't. Ask them to taste if there is any difference. Wait... what was that? You couldn't get the person who ordered a 16oz latte to-go to slow down long enough to take part in your experiment? They just wanted their coffee and wanted to get on with their life?

Huh... how bout that.

YMMV, there will be exceptions, etc etc.

;)

-bry
Yes, people often just want their fixes and to be on their ways.

However, especially from a training standpoint, maintaining perfect technique for ANY and EVERY drink, regardless of its application or appeal, helps emphasize proper habits for any barista. For example, we do not allow shortcuts or altered technique for a syrupy latte vs. a traditional capp.

And as a total nut about this stuff, I WANT to extract the best espresso 100% of the time, all the time. For a good time.

Bryan Wray said:
True.

Then again the person who just ordered the 16oz latte in question probably doesn't give a rats ass about the craft and skill and wanting to make every moment count.

They probably just want their drink.

So we, as people in the service industry, should probably try to get that drink to them before we piss them off. Like I said, if it's a small beverage I'm not setting the pitcher down because there is no advantage. But it isn't going to be the culinary art highlight of the day for most people. BR>
;)

-bry
Steaming milk on both wands and pulling shots with all three group heads in a consistent pattern is basic in order to work the morning rush comfortably in our shop. There fore "setting" pitchers down is a natural occurrence. We see no affect on quality with the milk. We can maintain a high quality beverage and still deliver with speed when our two person teams are melded synergistically. Fun word!

Our cashier is also the drink prep person...They take order, get cup, put flavor in, and set for the barista. At the same time they are calling out the drink to barista with a systematic cadence. All baristas are versed in the cadence and it becomes almost a dream ... All you do is steam milk and pull shots.

The drinks get stirred and whipped by the cashier as they come out if needed. Non whip drinks are just put on the top bar by the barista
I agree with much of what's been said here so far... especially on the importance of staying calm, cool, and connected with your customers. If they see you working they will tolerate a bit of a wait, especially if their experience once they get to the bar (and get their drink) was worth the wait. Go easy and steady - work with purpose - neither rushing or goofing around.

If they've waited for a while, that drink had better be really good. Give them your best.

Keep your tickets in order, and know which drinks belong together. Accept any help that a coworker may offer only if it doesn't interrupt your workflow or confuse things. If they can put syrup in cups, add whip cream, put on lids, rinse pitchers, grab new milk, these are all things that will help you focus on the main task.

You should work the same process for all drinks you make - fluid and efficient... then its far easier when you get in the weeds.

My process:
Portion milk into the pitcher first and park it next to the machine. Start the grinder. Grab the cup and add syrup if needed. I'll pull the PF and wipe it, then start dosing - with our SJ it'll be about half done by that time. Dose, settle, level, and tamp. Load and start the extraction. Start steaming. Stop steaming. Stop extraction. Refine milk texture (thump thump). Dump the shots in. Add milk. Whip. Top. Call the order or hand it off. Bang the puck. Rinse the pitcher. Reset.

I use a variety of different sized pitchers - 12, 24, 32, and 50ish ounce. For two or three drinks that use the same milk I'll do both drinks' milk at the same time. I'll also grind, settle, dose, and tamp both sets of shots before loading and starting simultaneously (simul-spro... not just for competitions any more).

I regularly do 2 or 3 lattes with perfect texture and zero waste. Gotta learn where the marks are for common multiples in your bigger pitchers - 20oz for 2x12, 24 for 2x16, 30oz for 3x12... etc. Also, try to internalize how long you need to incorporate air for a single drink, then when you are doing two together just do that same incorporation twice. You have twice as long of a window for air incorporation, might as well use it. Just make sure it is nicely integrated before you start to pour, fill each cup halfway on the first pass, then top them all off evenly at the last. This way, if you run a little short you don't end up stiffing the recipient of the last drink.

I'm with Bry... I'll park the pitcher if needed IF the expansion phase went properly and things are smooth. HOWEVER, a beginner shouldn't. Your milk will probably need some last minute refining for a little while longer, so the quality will suffer if you skip that part. Once you get to the point that all you are doing is watching it spin for 10 seconds, then go ahead...

I wouldn't change grinder settings for a single in a rush. Pull 2x doubles (simul-spro!) and set the spare aside for a little QC, or (with the boss's permission, of course) offer to drop it in the customer's drink.

Great thinking with this post. Hope we've helped. That said... do what your boss says. I don't sign your paycheck :).

Good luck.
I liked everything you just said.

Again about milk pitchers: Joe has been working behind the bar for only a couple of weeks. He still has to learn to make various textures and heat the milk to various temperatures depending on what customers ask for.

For now, I really truly think that it should be hand held.

Where I work, we are expected to make 5 drinks in 3 minutes, or 100 drinks per hour. In all honesty, I find that making 60 drinks per hour keeps up for the most part. To do that, I can take my time and do consistantly good work so long as I have supplies, and the cups are clearly marked. Seldom to I have two drinks in a row asking for the same milk so I stopped using my lager pitchers and took them home for kitchen use. Now I just use 600 ml. / 20oz. My vision isn't too good so for me having things in exactly the right place makes a huge difference.

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