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  • From home to cafe... help!

    hi guys,

    ive taken the plunge and applied for a part time job at a cafe hoping to become a better barista. problem is... ive only ever worked on a silvia. when i enquired about the job, all the lady at the shop wanted to know was whether i could make a coffee and asked me to make a caffe latte for her on the spot. i was stunned but thought id give it a go. it looked like a well used machine - 3 group san marino.

    extracting the espresso shot was no prob. the grind was pretty much on the spot.

    the biggest difference was frothing the milk! she handed me a 1lt jug to froth for 1 caffe latte. which i was taken back. also, the steam wand is so much different to the silvias one hole tip. i didnt do too good with the milk. ended up not enough froth for a latte - ended up a flat white. to make things worse, my nerves got the better of me and i ended up overfilling the glass and onto the bench she was nice though and asked me to come back on friday for a trial at a less busy period.

    help!

    as i just discovered being a home barista is completely different to working in a commercial setting.

    a) what should i be on the lookout for?
    b) how do i go from a silvia to a commercial machine?
    c) how do i handle the different steam wand?


  • #2
    Re: From home to cafe... help!

    Remember, the basic techniques are still the same. You just have to streamline your workflow.

    Youll adapt Im sure.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: From home to cafe... help!

      A commercial steam wand is so much better than the silvias steam wand...allows you to angle the wand it whatever position you like! I was the exact opposite to you...I started in a cafe...then bought a Silvia for home. I remember with the Silvia, I had to angle the jug....no more of that on a big machine, theyre usually all ball jointed meaning position the wand in a position youd like the steam to roll your milk in and keep your jug straight. The stretching process is a lot faster than on the Silvia......after all youre working on something like a 20L boiler.

      Here is some advice.

      Make sure you dont mix up your rags. 1 for steam wand, 1 for tray and another for bench...I guess you can use the tray one for the bench too.

      Brush is important...keep your grinder area clean.

      You just need to work out a routine that works for you.

      For me it goes something like...

      1) remove pf, empty puck, wipe basket
      2) turn on grinder, flush group
      3) free dose, distribute, level and tamp
      4) flush again and lock n load
      5) purge wand, texture milk. If the machine is semi-auto, dont forget about your extracting shot!
      6) wipe and purge wand
      7) pour drink
      8) quick clean (wipe tray, bench and general grinder clean up.) then go again for my next round of drinks

      Being able to process orders to streamline your work flow is important....especially so when youre the only one on the machine making the whole drink. In busy periods, have all your groups extracting shots...rather than use a 300mL jug, Id use a 600mL to 1L jug....that way you can pour multiple drinks in one go.

      I think many coffeesnobs who look at becoming a barista in a cafe forget one thing. A cafe is a business and theyre there to make money. Being a coffeesnob is great....you take pride in your drinks, but you also need to be an economical barista. By all means take your time when making espressos - slow down to make sure its just right, but for milk based drinks I wouldnt cry over a 23 second shot and then the next one comes in at 29 during a rush.

      Most people dont like to wait more than 3 to 4 minutes for their drink, but speed comes with practice....so I wouldnt worry too much. One thing you can try is steaming with one hand and pouring with the other....you get a 6th sense when the milk is ready. This is might be a good idea with a San Marino because during rushes, they cant really cope, so it seems to take forever to texture a jug of milk. Unless you have drinks that require double shots, or a 12oz T/A cup that requires a double ristretto/espressos, you can knock out 6 drinks at time in no time.

      Thats all I can think of at the moment....hope other baristas can chime in. Good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: From home to cafe... help!

        ohhh...one more thing...San Marinos run hot in my experience....flush till the sizzle goes away.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: From home to cafe... help!

          Welcome to the world of professional coffee making, dailybean!

          I think youll do fine as well. You have the most important ingredient, IMO to making great coffee and that is...Passion!

          If your prospective boss has asked you to come back on Friday, then Id personally take that opportunity to ask her if shed like to show you how she gets the best out of her machine, particularly in the milk department.

          As others have discovered, not all businesses that make coffee make it to Coffee Snobs standards. So if you can find out what the shops standard is and go from there. If its already high, well, I guess youre in for a challenge to get there too. If its lower than your current standard, then you have the opportunity to show your boss something great about coffee!

          As to the steam wand, my suggestion would be start slow and build up. The commercial machine can give you a little or a great deal of pressure. Far more than a Silvia can pump out and yes before you know it, hot milk! But, you have greater control as well. So dont turn on that steam knob full at first. Just give it enough to what youre used to and go from there.

          All the best! 8-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: From home to cafe... help!

            wow thanks scoota. not sure how long ill last there though definitely will ask the owner to show me around the machine. its quite different to what im used to. sound advice. yeah the milk did get hot real quick. ah well, hope to get to know it better.

            nunu and wushoes, yeah streamlining the workflow seems to be key. one thing i thought was cool on the machine was the volumetric timer. one less thing to worry about once the shot looked ok.

            interestingly, their setup is different to some cafes ive seen. the grinder is doserless and grind on demand - but each grind is timed. so that was cool. also, they have this lever tamper. which was cool as well since its consistent each time.

            well, well see how it goes on friday. quite exciting

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: From home to cafe... help!

              Dont panic daily.

              I worked in a cafe for a week or two a few months back.

              The guy didnt even want to interview me when I said Id had no commercial experience.

              But I talked him into letting me make him a coffee.
              Damn that thing had some steam!

              That impressed him enouigh to sit down and talk to me.
              Then I showed him pictures of my Macap and Expobar and in the end he asked if he could call me in for a few shifts while business was picking back up after his Christmas lull.

              So I got the job and got some experience in the real world.

              It wasnt that hard.

              I even had some customers asking for seconds.

              You can do it!




              Comment


              • #8
                Re: From home to cafe... help!

                As a coffeesnob im sure you know all the rules. But in a commercial envirnoment you need to know what your boss is after. What is your goal at the moment? My guess is to keep the job. So rule you must follow............ KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Forget about all the rules because when you get slammed you are going to get confused and make a mess of everything. Just make the best milk you can at the moment and not worry about extraction too much. It will all come, but dont except it to happen over night. You can hide bad shots with milk. Once you get better at milk move on to shots. Just take it one step at a time. Keep a clean station and always look up. The door what great baristi keep an eye on. As soon as someone walks thru that door, that means time for you to work!! Ive had so much trouble training coffeesnobs and geeks because they aim for perfection every time. In some cases i have had staff that were great cafe workers that could make good coffee. Then they gain knowledge on coffee and become terrible at it. Dont try too hard. If you forget to purge its not the end of the world. At the end of the day, most cafes just want you to get the coffees out fast!! Forget about latte art, extraction and perfection. Its your first day. Just pull out the coffees, gain some confidence and then add a few more skills as the day goes on.
                If you show improvement thru the day that shows more to me than someone who thinks they know a lot and cant put it into action.
                Good luck

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: From home to cafe... help!

                  in 92-93 (god was it that long ago?) I had a part time night job at an RSL in the bar, before RSAs were a requirement, all you had to know was how to pull a schooner and try to remember which of the diggers liked a big head on his beer, what a bruiser was (stout and light or black and blue) and a few other things like pour the cheap scotch unless they ask for John Walker etc. They had a 3 group machine there and the training on that was watching someone else do it. Only thing I remember was doing two coffees, use the double spout and 2 clicks on the grinder and 1 click for one etc. Steam the milk till its hot in your hand(the jug base) Considering what Ive learnt since those days all I can think is those poor people the coffee I made then must have been crap. Esp on raffle nights when it was busy and once you did one coffee you were stuck there for at least 2 hours one after the other. As Wushoes said get yourself a routine. One of the barmaids taught me a routine when making a lot at once, getting saucers ready with a spoon and two satchets of suger etc, line them up on a tray etc etc, I dont remember much of what she was trying to get me to look at as she had other things more interesting to look at :-X but point is, you have an advantage that you havea basic idea of what to do, one thing I worked hard on was milk textures, the rest just fell into place. And if your lucky to have a good boss or someone else there, dont be afraid to ask questions, no such thing as a stupid question - only being stupid by not asking and doing things wrong!
                  Good luck keep us posted as to how you get on there..
                  Cheers
                  Steve

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: From home to cafe... help!

                    andyl, the KISS rule sounds like solid advice. i shall try not to be too pedantic.

                    sullo, yup no point trying to figure something and impress when a simple question asked politely will do.

                    tg, thanks for the encouragement. ill give it my best shot! (no pun intended)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: From home to cafe... help!

                      err ok, not sure where I was trying to impress anyone, did I say something wrong here?


                      nm read it wrong.. apologies

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: From home to cafe... help!

                        I learned the art of coffee making on a very old Gaggia Lever machine a squillion years ago - the thing was an antique and used to belch steam and make a terrible racket. It produced fantastic coffee however, which is why the boss kept it.

                        I learned the same way as Sullo. There were no training courses in those days, you were shown the basics and went on from there. Fortunately I pulled decent coffee and was pretty fast so I kept my job.

                        Daily Bean - every machine is going to be different, even if it is the same brand, and it will take you a wee bit of time and practice to adjust to its idiosyncrasies.

                        Basically you know the basics, have a passion for good coffee and actually want to do the job which hopefully your potential boss will see over a student who just needs a job to get through uni.

                        Good luck.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: From home to cafe... help!

                          Originally posted by AndyL link=1181570823/0#7 date=1181654196
                          not worry about extraction too much.
                          One thing I found when I made a lot of shots at a party one night (with a domestic toy) is that with a succession of shots, you get the feel for the extraction so that you dont need to be anal about the grind/dose/tamp to pull a decent shot. So as AndyL (one of the all time great baristas Ive come across) says, concentrate on the milk (its a helluva lot faster with a commericial machine so you have less time to get the stretch right).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: From home to cafe... help!

                            Originally posted by lucinda link=1181570823/0#11 date=1181698910
                            Daily Bean - every machine is going to be different, even if it is the same brand, and it will take you a wee bit of time and practice to adjust to its idiosyncrasies... Basically you know the basics, have a passion for good coffee and actually want to do the job which hopefully your potential boss will see over a student who just needs a job to get through uni.

                            Good luck.
                            thanks lucinda. its really about the experience rather than a job to get me. big day is tomorrow. hopefully, all goes well

                            kaanage, yup ill be wary of the milk thinking of bringing a jug im comfortable with (my 300ml and 600ml)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: From home to cafe... help!

                              Good luck dailybean - apart from all the good advice above, I hope you have fun too!

                              Comment

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