The primary jobs of baristas are to provide exceptional customer service and prepare excellent drinks. Keeping on top of a variety of tasks is an aspect of cafe management that allows these interactions to happen. As a business owner or manager, it’s critical that all daily, weekly, and in-the-moment cleaning and maintenance activities are tended to in a timely manner and that staff are accountable for them being completed regularly and thoroughly.
Forgotten tasks leave customers with a negative impression of your cafe. Overlooked preventative maintenance tasks lead to more frequent major services. With neglected maintenance, an espresso machine or brewer is more likely to fail and cost you significant revenue. Instead, having clearly defined tasks and holding staff accountable makes for a more pleasant work environment. When a team knows their objectives for the day, tasks are more likely to be accomplished correctly and on time, and without the drama that can come from staff blaming one another when things aren’t done.
With Cropster Cafe, you can define and remotely follow up on a variety of tasks across multiple cafe locations, monitor equipment cleaning, plan ahead to optimize peak vs. idle times, and staff can easily check off completed tasks on a tablet or smartphone.
Morning / Opening Tasks
Every morning cafe managers and baristas go through tasks that ensure everything is in place to provide customers quick and friendly service and an overall good experience. A barista dials in the coffee for espresso and filter. They heat up the machine, fill the grinder, pull a few shots and taste the coffee, and set the starting recipes for the day.
Opening staff organize the filter coffee and pour-over stations and they dial-in brew recipes. Batch brew coffee is weighed out, ground, and prepared. Iced coffee is set for service. Condiment stations are prepped with full pitchers of milk and sugar, and lids and cup sleeves. Meanwhile, pastries are prepared and put out in a display case.
Managers or shift leads prepare cash registers for the day with sufficient change and checking connectivity for credit card payments. The team updates menus with coffees of the day and other specials.
Throughout the Day
Equally important are all of the details that happen between customer interactions: Staff busses tables and sweeps floors, they work to make a good impression by resetting tables and chairs, restocking condiments and retail displays, and tackling all of the little cleaning details throughout a shift. As milk, coffee, tea, and cups run low through the day, baristas replenish them from backstock.
Keeping a clean and orderly bar is essential for efficiency and strongly impacts customer impressions of a tidy cafe. The espresso bar and filter station must be clean at all times, particularly around the knock box, grinder, and the wet side of the bar where baristas steam milk and rinse pitchers. Brewing equipment is regularly cleaned to assure great tasting coffee.
Managing all of this while preparing delicious drinks and communicating with customers is a challenge even for the most organized cafe.
End of Shift / End of Day
The end of a shift or the end of the day brings additional tasks. Baristas and floor managers make inventory counts and place orders for pastry, milk, and coffee. After all, if any of these items go out of stock, the cafe ceases to function! Less frequently, staff orders items for machine maintenance and logs any problems or issues throughout the day.
Managers or shift leads will count the till, make a bank deposit, run credit card reports, and handle other financial details. Other staff will clean the service area, empty trash, and set up the cafe for the opening staff the next day.
What’s missing? Proper cleaning of espresso equipment. This key step is not only to prepare the cafe for the next day, but is an important aspect of preventative maintenance to maintain its performance and longevity. Soaking portafilters, removing baskets and springs, pulling dispersion screens, and thoroughly flushing group heads with espresso machine cleaner ensures no residue remains in the pressure valves and other elements of the group head.
Any remaining coffee residue in your espresso machine or brewer will decrease the life of dispersion screens, portafilter baskets, group gaskets, and other elements of your espresso machine. Espresso machine cleaner and clean-water backflushing and rinsing leaves your machine immaculately clean and ready for your team to brew delicious coffee.
These tasks are like brushing your teeth. You don’t lose your teeth if you skip brushing once. Similarly skipping a cleaning task once wont mean your business fails; but consistency makes for a healthy, shiny, well-maintained “business”.
There are other cafe tasks that happen only occasionally. So that these irregular tasks aren’t overlooked, it’s essential that they are scheduled on a routine basis. These items can have an outsized impact if not done on time or aren’t done properly.
Here are some examples of irregular maintenance tasks - and a general sign of how often they need to be performed:
- Replace group gaskets: quarterly
- Replace dispersion screens: quarterly
- Rebuild steam wand valve: check weekly, rebuild semi-annually
- Schedule preventative machine maintenance: check daily, service as needed
- Check brew and steam pressure, flow rate: check daily, service as needed
- Check group and boiler temperatures: check daily, service as needed
- Check water quality
- Change grinder burrs: based on usage (1kg per day = annually, 2-3kg per day = semi-annually, 4-10kg per day = quarterly)
There are so many details on how to run a well-run cafe. Inevitably, some will fall through the cracks. The key is to have systems and tools for your staff so that tasks aren’t forgotten, your team is held accountable, and these details become part of every barista’s routine. With these tasks accomplished, your team is free to focus on providing customer service by preparing exceptional coffee with good service, in a welcoming atmosphere, and in a positive work environment.
Cropster Cafe’s upcoming blog post goes deeper into task management and the ways staff keep track and follow through to ensure consistency and success in your business.