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How to make sure the serious coffee connoisseur leaves happy

By: Tips written by: Grant King, HospitalityHub
27 July, 2015

For the average Joe in the street, the idea of a coffee connoisseur might seem a bit silly. You stick a spoonful of instant coffee in a cup, fill it with hot water, Bob's your uncle. Yet to the coffee connoisseur, attitudes like this verge on blasphemy.

Such is the beauty of coffee culture that something as innocuous as a bean has built itself an empire of opinion so diverse and disparate. If you run a cafe the average Joe (and Jolene) will probably be an integral part of your clientele; but, they'll come for the companionship more than the coffee. Get your ambience right; job done: regular customer.

Not so the coffee connoisseur, they are a different beast altogether. For them coffee is king. Get it wrong and they'll be screaming for your abdication. So here are a few tips for you and your baristas to ensure coffee connoisseurs not only leave happy, but keep coming back.

Don't serve a macchiato full of milk

If your connoisseur asks for a latte macchiato, fine, go for the hot milk. But if they specifically ask for a real, proper, authentic macchiato served according to Italian tradition, milk is the last thing you want in it and the only thing you want on it. Basically a macchiato is an espresso with a small amount of marked milk on top and not a hot, milky, syrupy, coffee-flavoured milkshake as Starbucks would lead you to believe.

Don't offer them a frappuccino

Despite what a certain, possibly previously mentioned coffee chain might tell you, a frappuccino isn't a real coffee. In fact, it's not even an Italian word. So, stick to your cappuccinos and espressos and other such coffees of authenticity or your credibility as a barista will be as weak as fluffed milk.

Get the devil out of the details

And that means your foam artwork. A connoisseur will take one look at your design, be it a heart, pinwheel or Monet interpretation, and instantly know two things: whether the foam is a good consistency, and whether the shot was pulled right. If your design holds nicely in the milk, you're fine. If it doesn't, your connoisseur will be a gonna, sir.

Ready, aim, wait

There's a real art to pulling a shot and it all comes down to timing – 18 to 22 seconds of it. That's how long your shot should take to pull or it's not a good shot. Your run-of-the-mill customer won't notice the difference, but Mr Bean will. So practice. Get your espresso grounds packed to the right firmness, make sure the right amount of water filters through and control the temperature; all in that 18 - 22 second timeframe. How hard can it be?

Train your customers

Have you got a queue right to the door of your cafe? If you have, congratulations, you might well be popular. You might not be too. Keep an eye on people in your queue. Are they all gassing on the phone until they get to the counter and then, and only then, thinking about what they want? No one wants to wait ten minutes to order a coffee, especially your connoisseurs. So put signs up saying 'Please be ready to order,' ban phones, yell at people, do whatever you have to do to get your line 'in line' or your coffee connoisseurs won't be in it for long. 

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