So I'm working the evening shift by myself lately, and I have to say it's a totally different ballgame. Getting through a line of 10 people with no cashier is definitely a challenge, and I have been guilty of falling victim to freakouts. But, I was starting to get a little bored with just working the bar, and I thrive on new challenges. So much of it is mental, at some point you just stop the panic and get to people as fast as you can, which is pretty f'ing fast. Plus, I don't have to share any of my tips, and people are generous when they see you sweatin' it by yourself ;)
Of course there is the continuing challenge of working with the Astoria heat exchanger automatic. Ugh. We've been trying to solve the problem of the top of the puck hitting the diffusion screen, so we scored a triple-shot basket. (ps, when we got it, there was a triple spout on the bottom. Wtf? How would one even use that??) After an hour of pulling shots with reject coffee that we were going to throw out anyway, we got the grind fine enough that we could use the same amount of coffee as in the double basket, but tamp it low enough that there's a nickel of space between the top of the puck and the screen. I pulled the best shot that's ever been pulled off that f'ed up machine -- 24 second extraction with sweet lookin' crema. Oh yeah.
My latte art is getting pretty sweet -- I decided to stop trying to be fancy and focus just on hearts. Once I have those down, I'll start on my rosettas etc. I think it's harder to get really great art in to-go cups, which is all I have to work with, but I'll do my best. Maybe if I get really good in to-go cups, porcelain will be no problem!
My evening customers are sweeeet! There's one girl who always orders the same drink, and says that I make it the best. I got a great heart on it one night, and she told me she was having a terrible day and that my art really made her night. Hell yes! Such an awesome feeling. Coffee is so much better than the animal shelter!