Five Tips For Café Owners Through The COVID-19 Lockdown

Mike Tan
A coffee roaster's perspective for cafe owners on tips and ideas to get through the 4-week lockdown.

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Sustainable Motivation: Filling the Barista’s Cup [part one]

Mike Tan
Jacques is a coffee professional from Melbourne, Australia and shares his views on motivating the barista in our work place.  This article covers a broad spectrum of theory and practical applications to maintain employee satisfaction and long-term retention of good staff.

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Choosing an espresso machine for your cafe - Semi-Auto or Automatic?

Mike Tan

What is the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic espresso machine?

 

With the advancement of technology, like everything else coffee machines have become more automated. This has not neglected the need for a skilled barista but technology is slowly changing the role of the barista and allows us to make more consistent coffee and have a better understanding of the scientific principles of what makes a ‘good’ coffee.

As touched on in the video, an automatic espresso machine ends the extraction automatically, where a semi-automatic espresso machine requires the barista to manually turn on and off the extraction (with the touch of a button). Traditionally, an automatic machine would measure volume and the extraction would end once a desired volume has been achieved. There are now machines available that measure by weight instead of volume.

An automatic machine has the ability to control the extraction manually therefore doesn’t have any real advantages over a semi-automatic machine. Despite the added cost, most cafes are moving towards the trend of automatic espresso machines, primarily for reasons of consistency and speed. This would mean that the small added cost is generally a wise investment for café owners choosing an automatic espresso machine over a semi-automatic.

 

**Super automatic machines are a different type of machine again and these machines are typically found in office or vending machine situations where the machine makes the coffee from the touch of a button. This includes the extraction of the coffee shot and steaming of the milk. Super-automatic machines are rarely used in cafes due to their inability to make adjustment to temperature and humidity fluctuations within a working environment.

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The Barista Checklist For New Cafes

Mike Tan

What equipment and accessories do I require to setup my café for making espresso coffee?  A common question asked by many new café owners.

Here’s a quick run-down of the basic equipment and accessories required to get you started making espresso.

 

Equipment

  • Espresso machine (of course!).
  • Water filter and associated lines for espresso machine.
  • Associated power supply for espresso machine *see tip below.
  • Grinder.
  • Refrigerator (for milk).

 

Accessories

  • Tamper: to suit your espresso machine. Most commercial espresso machines use a 58mm tamper.
  • Tamp mat.
  • Milk thermometer.
  • 2x powder shakers for chocolate and cinnamon sprinkles.
  • Timer: for timing espresso shots when calibrating machine.
  • Measuring glass or small scales: for calibrating machine.
  • Milk jugs: we recommend the following.
    • 2x 350ml jugs.
    • 3x 600ml jugs.
    • 1x 1l jug.

 

Cleaning

  • Espresso machine cleaning powder.
  • Espresso machine cleaning brush and scour pad.
  • 2x small paint brushes (for cleaning coffee grinds).
  • Microfiber cloths.

 

*Standard household and commercial wall plugs are 10-amp. Due to the large current that an espresso machine draws this requires a 20-amp (most 2-group) or 32-amp (most 3-group) power plug. This requires the work of an electrician to re-wire the power supply and install a new plug socket. It is wise to install a 32-amp power plug as this will also accommodate a 20-amp power plug.

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5 Insider Tips To Consider Before Opening a Café

Mike Tan

It seems like a common theme for kiwis having the dream to own their own café.  You love coffee; you love people so it makes perfect sense to ditch that 9-5 and own your own café right?  I often get people of all ages asking me for advice on taking the step into starting or buying a café business, here’s a few tips to consider and some real advice.  These tips are not meant to put anyone off but are cold true facts to consider before taking the leap.

1-Time

Am I prepared to put in long hours, early starts and weekends?

This factor is heavily dependent on whether your café is a 5, 6 or 7 day operation however regardless, cafes can involve long hours.  Early starts are a norm in the industry especially if you plan on getting flour on your hands to do the baking.  On a positive note, most cafes close in the afternoon giving you time to pick up the kids from school or head home for paper work.

 2-Financial

Can I go without paying myself for months if needed?

Starting a business can take time to generate a profit and it would be injudicious to forecast a profit and/or a feasible wage for the owner from the day of opening.  We have all seen the statistics of high failure rate of businesses opening within the first 3-years and it is important to plan in advance for slow starts and/or unforeseen expenses that creep up along the way.  A café can be a profitable means of earning a living but don’t expect this to come too soon.

 3-Lifestyle

The hospitality lifestyle isn’t for everyone…

I have experienced many individuals and couples who have given up the corporate lifestyle for the dream of owning a café.  From lawyers to accountants to sales managers and everything in between.  *Some of these people find that the fast-paced hospitality environment is not as enjoyable as they thought and this type of work is not fit for everyone.  Many white-collar jobs require linear thinking, sequencing and analysing facts commonly known as left-brain thinking.  A lot of hospitality work requires rhythm, visual thinking and intuition – right-brain thinking.  This simply means that it can take time and practise to accumulate the tools and mental capacity required for hospitality – this small aspect is often overlooked and many people think and wonder ‘how hard can it be’?

 This most definitely isn’t the case for everyone who went from wearing a suit and tie to an apron and coffee tamper, purely an observation of a few personal cases I’ve identified.  I’ve also identified many successful café owners that have come from corporate jobs and developed a passion and appetite for the hospitality industry.

 4-Physical

 Being on your feet all day, often with little, interrupted or no breaks can be physically demanding.  Although you won’t get bad posture from crouching over a computer desk, being on your feet all day can take some time to get used to.  There’s no need to be a marathon runner, but being fit and physically capable does have its advantages when working in a café.  Don’t forget to buy a large tub of hand moisturiser for those rough barista hands too!  This can also be seen as an advantage and possibly a means of cancelling the gym membership you never went to anyway.

 5-Staff

 Managing staff can be very rewarding but does have its difficulties.  As cafes are labour intensive, this comes with the responsibility of managing a team of people to keep your operation running.  Leadership plays an integral role in the operation of a café and many café owners can confirm that the right team is an essential ingredient for a successful café.  Hospitality typically has a high turnover of staff but this isn’t always true across the board.  How you manage your staff will play a significant impact on the culture and work ethic within your business.

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