Workflow in Specialty Coffee 

You’ve all heard the story of the man with a utility vehicle. He’s always the one asked by everyone for help when they move house.

The same sad fate comes to the designer who is asked to design a brand or logo for a business when everything is finished.

The right time to involve a designer is before anything is done. The designer wants to influence elegance and efficiency to the entire business from the name  to the colours and style of lighting.

Similarly once a cafe is built and the espresso machine holes are cut into the bench it’s too late to help. The sad coffee consultant (like myself) is asked to come and supply coffee or install a machine in a tiny space where there is no chance of speed more efficiency.

I think many would agree with me when I. scream  IT’S TOO LATE!

Often, if not always, the bar is built or installed with complete disregard for science and reality. This is important because it costs thousands of dollars a week in wastage, lost sales and inefficiency.

When a customer sees a queue of 10 people they will likely opt for another cafe with a shorter wait time rather than stay and wait for a coffee they prefer. Every cafe has a point where people bail. This costs money. This is one of the primary benefits of having batch brew ready and serving one in place of a long black (why have a diluted inconsistent double espresso when you have a complete balanced coffee and not wait?).

Workflow is the primary design consideration for the bar and is interrelated to the rest of the cafe ecosystem: kitchen, cashier, foot flow and so on.


We recently were forced to provide espresso to an event over 3 days serving 2000 milk-based drinks on a two-group linea classic. If that doesn’t sound like a problem, then add this to the equation: all 900 delegates would be released on to the cafe in 30 minute to 1 hour breaks so the entire 2000 coffees were made in less than 2 hours over the three days. Luckily I had designed the bar for efficiency however I needed more MacGyver than that:

  1. We restricted the menu to 1 size of cup. 6 ounce. Takeaway only. This allowed us to make 4 “strong” coffees at a time dispensing 25grams of espresso into 150grams of milk.
  2. This also speed up the ordering process and allowed the baristas to pretty much make every coffee the same.
  3. Batch brew tea – We had 6 Litres of English Breakfast on tap. This saved concentration of the baristi so they could push out a tea in less time than a coffee.
  4. Baby chino’s were steamed in cup – We poured 50 grams of cold milk directly into the takeaway cup and steamed the milk inside the takeaway cup. Easy!

If you want consulting before of after you start a cafe call me 0466418990.

I hold a Bachelor of Business a Certificate IV in Business Management and I am passionate.

Here is some further reading on workflow:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s