Archive for March, 2011


Customer Service – Speed of Service


I get dragged into this conversation a lot with my fellow Australian coffee friends, and the conversation seems to revolve around two different types of bar service (for the moment I am excluding table service).

One is the more common way of service;

Guy walks into a espresso bar, Guy heads straight over to the till, Guy orders milky beverage from POS staff, Guy pays, steps away or sits down and waits for his coffee…

The second scenario is what I like to call classic bar service;

Guy walks into a espresso bar, barista engages Guy, Guy orders straight from the barista, Guy hangs at bar and waits for his beverage to be prepared, has an opportunity to chat with barista, Guy receives beverage with a nod, Guy pays and walks away.

There are pros and cons with both styles of service some pros for scenario one is;

  1. Speed of service?
  2. High turnover
  3. More consistent (though I don’t believe that as I type it, i want to delete it but don’t because the twittersphere is communicating that)


  1. Little interaction with Barista if any
  2. No daily recommendations from the barista who is dialling in coffees (what a shame)
  3. As money is exchanged already customer is trapped in cafe until beverage is served
  4. If coffee is taking its time to be made, the dynamic in the cafe changes as people get angry when in a rush and can’t leave
  5. Grumpy customers = grumpy staff = grumpy customers
  6. Baristas = coffee robots

Senario two;


  1. Speed of service?
  2. High turnover (believe me I’ve seen the numbers)
  3. Interaction with Barista
  4. Customer is in a rush, feels empowered to leave
  5. Barista is control of his/ her environment = more positive attitude toward work (I hope)
  6. Customer feels just a little bit more happy with customised, personal service


  1. Customer is empowered to leave if service is slow
  2. Loss of sales if slow

So it is pretty easy to see where I am leaning on this topic and even as I type this I am engaged in a conversation on twitter about it.

The thing is, we are all going to have to wait for the coffee to be served to us, do we want to wait in a line and get served by the Barista or do we want to wait in a line, pay at the POS then sit down and wait for the coffee. To me it is all waiting.

I have seen it to many times when you are in a cafe and it is getting slammed, there are people getting angry because they have to leave but they don’t have there coffee yet and they’ve paid for it! For the most part people will not go back up to the POS and ask for their money back. They will sit and wait full of tension biding time and we all know how tension is contagious, right?  Will that person come back? Most likely not with the thought of, “I paid $$$ for this coffee then sat there for 25 minuets before the coffee actually came out to me”!

I like the idea of empowering the customer. Customer walks by and sees a huge line, looks at his watch and says;

“You know, I am in to much of a rush for this today, I will try again later”.


“I have been here for 15 minuets already and the line is not moving, next time”…

I will finish in saying it was rare to see irate customers in the cafes that provide that type of classic bar service, it is more common to see angry customers in the first scenario, and I’ve seen it affect the whole mood of the cafe.

One more thing, if you were to walk up to a bar and order a beer at a POS, you paid your money then had to stand back and wait for that beer to be yelled at you, wouldn’t that make you feel weird? I would hate that, so I don’t know why we do it in coffee…

Feel free to comment.