I know this has happened to possibly everyone who works in a shop. But I want to know what people do when it is absolutly dead...Right now it's 2 hours till close and everything is done. What I do is try to seek in a couple of 15mins or sit in the walk in cooler (today is very hot) As well there is a crossword puzzle that me and sarah (the other barista) are working on

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we have an in depth chore list at the shop which was written by two baristas who had done EVERYTHING there was to do and wrote it all down. it ranges from windexing everything, to dusting air vents, to wiping out the fridges with bleach and scrubbing everything in the store until it sparkles. also, cleaning out all the syrup pumps and wiping off any dried syrup on the outside of the bottles. our favorite cleaning products are baking soda, vinegar, and orange clean. everyone i work with is a super-neat freak and it's kind of awesome when we're slow because we scrub the shit out of everything and it's suprisingly rewarding. plus, for the next week, everyone else you work with will say " wow, i never thought of polishing the hand-washing sink with baking soda and orange clean. it sparkles like a fine jewel."
yeah, I'm a cleaner too! I tend to do weird things when it is slow like cleaning UNDER refrigerators and that kind of thing.
Clean Good.
Yes I have a very long list of cleaning. It's not that we keep our cafe in a mess. I just wanted to see if anyone would do creative things to keep themselves from getting cabin fever, once that list is finished
Clean the unusual places. Fold paper menus. Stamp java jackets (at least we used to). Do stuff with the shop's Facebook page.

Once all that's exhausted, I work on new drinks. It seems like I always have a couple that are in process or need work. We just finally released our improved iced mocha two weeks ago, after much tweaking. The drink development process for us usually takes several hours worth of (sometimes messy) experimentation. So it kills time AND makes more mess to clean... win-win. Maybe you could do that?

Other good uses of time would be playing with extraction parameters for different brew methods, to learn more about your coffees. Take good notes so that everyone can benefit from what you learn.

The important thing about any of those activities is that you discuss them with the manager/owner. Though there's usually cost involved with them, it sure beats paying someone to do the crossword :).
Ahhh, I always wondered what went through the minds of my employees when it happened to be slow. I actually saw pics (a literal photo shot) my barista took of herself while on shift place right on her myspace page. Unbelievable!

Our shop as well, has an intense cleaning list that each barista must initial after a task. This way I can see who's doing what, how much and who's working crossword puzzles. Sorry dear, but while employed at hourly wage, you belong to them for that hour and trust me there is always something to wipe, shine and sparkle. Get at it and seek that raise!
"If it's time to lean...it's time to clean" ... or catch up on Barista Magazine, practice latte art, cup coffees...
"You got time to lean, you got time to clean." Can't tell you how many times I heard that as a barista. And there's ALWAYS places to clean up. Here's something else you can do. Walk in the door, pretend you are a customer, and look around. What does a customer see? Does everything a customer sees look clean, organized? Are all the light bulbs around working? Are the trash cans clean? What about outside the shop? There's always something, sometimes you gotta get on the other side of the counter and look at things like a customer sees them to see it all.
What about cold brewing coffee for iced coffees? Checking your stock of supplies? Making sure all the tables and chairs are cleaned and sanitary? What bout the dreaded bathrooms? Women truly judge a place by the cleanliness of the bathrooms, so could they use a little extra attention?
Bugger all that! Bottle of beer and some kicking tunes! When the customers come in they will appreciate the friendly high energy environment!
Practise latte art, practise measuring your shots and ristrettos, if your into barista comps play round with ideas and flavours for signature drinks, take photos of extractions from naked portafilters and fun coffee stuff like that! :]
We tell our folks: "there is always something that needs to be done." If there is time to lean, there is time to clean." Restock, back-up, dust, polish, do windows, sweep the sidewalks, clean the syrups, if you can't find anything... get a scrub brush and clean the back kitchen floor... because if someone is on the clock they should be working. Our customers have complimented us on how clean we are. Our bathrooms are the place people must go in a tornado or bad storm... they must be spotless!
The biggest and most productive thing you can do is keep smiling, dont look bored (even if you are), dont look unhappy or fed up as this will just beam off from you and then when a customer does come in, they see your grump face, bad posture (cuz you're leaning against a machine) and your first impression is not so good. Also, if you can keep yourself smiling and make an effort to not be bored, you might find that you're time will go a little quicker and you'll find odds n sods to keep you busy.

And if all else fails clean!....lol

Kim xx

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