When I wrestle with the idea that coffee should attempt to be all things to all men, I’m brought back to pursuing what I’m passionate about by quotes that come across my Facebook feed like this one from Jim Wendler: “When you cater to what people want and NOT what you love, it will show.”
This means saying no to good things in order to say yes to the best things. Surely, this applies to coffee workers everywhere and to employees in general. Two articles published earlier in 2016 by Daily Coffee News’ Howard Bryman outline application of this concept in both areas.
Jubala Coffee opened a new shop in Raleigh, NC with two separate espresso bars for a “stay” or “take” experience, complete with separate point of sale stations. At first glance, this could be seen as being all things to all men. They have faster operating espresso machines and batch brewers for the “take” side that they try to dial in as best they can to mimic the flavor profile of their pour overs. I think they’re letting their passions take over their business, not compromising on flavor and quality.
I want to serve as many people as possible and make them happy. For some, that means getting them a cup of great coffee because they’re running late for work or football practice. They don’t have four minutes to wait for a pour-over. They want to grab and go. I want to serve them as well. Mike thinks we should stick to just doing what we love- making specially crafted drinks. Those take time. Maybe, with a set up like Jubala, it’s not a compromise at all. It’s just a different part of our coffee passion coming through.
If the employees are allowed to switch back and forth between the “stay” and “take” stations, it could be an even better employee experience. This variation would allow them to be more transactional and get the satisfaction of hustling countless cups out the door, but also give them the chance to slow down and “talk coffee” with customers that come in and take pleasure in the patient, custom creation of delicious drinks. This ties directly into the next article about Identity Coffees in Sacramento, CA.
Identity Coffees has every employee roast, cup, and serve. Wow. That’s the type of incredible work experience that build employee buy-in. When you can help decide what coffee to buy, roast, and serve you really feel like you’re part of the business. That’s such a special concept, to allow employees to do more than one thing over and over again. Repetition of that sort produces burn out and employees that are just there to cater to what people want. What they love typically does not shine through.
I think it’s so great to allow employees to learn multiple skills in their job, give input on how to make their work better, and help decide what will make the customer experience better. Giving front line employees a powerful voice will also let the managers and owners make better decisions. Because let’s be honest- when was the last time you saw a coffee shop owner inside the shop, running the espresso machine?
I’ve been to lots of great shops and only once did I come across the owner. And he was not pulling shots for customer orders. I don’t have a problem with that, I’m just suggesting a way to establish happy employees long term. Until next time, pursue your passion!