Join Ann Nylander from Tamp Tamp Inc. to create a menu workflow strategy. She will cover the following information:
Which brew method will you choose?
There are lots of options out there for those looking to start a brew-to-order bar at their cafe. Each brew method has it’s own ups and downs and requires different equipment. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of possible brew methods and the special considerations each requires:
Hario v60 and Bonmac Pour Over- These pour overs are popular in brew-to-order bars. For this type of brew method, you’ll want to consider a rack or rail to hold the pour over above the cup. These come pre-fabricated from places like Espresso Parts and other coffee supply companies. If you are thinking about doing a high volume brew bar, you might want to consider plumbing in a drain tray. You won’t have to worry about emptying the run-off and it make pre-heating the brewer/wetting the filter a breeze.
Chemex- The chemex is similar to the v60 and Bonmac, but the coffee does not drip directly into the cup, it drips into the decanter attached to the cone. This means that you don’t have to worry about setting up a brew rail. All you need is a nice clear space on your counter. We brew a lot of chemex coffee at the TampTamp office and really love it! Plus, the curvy chemex is a great conversation starter.
Clever/Abid-The clever is similiar in shape to the cone of the v60 and chemex, but instead of being a pour over, the clever is a dwell brewer. The clever, like the chemex, requires very little counter space. Once the brew is complete, you just set the brewer on top of the cup and the coffee drips out the bottom. This method is great because it requires a little less tending than the methods listed above, but you have to be listening for the timer so that you don’t overextract cups of coffee.
There are also other brew methods that you could consider (i.e. french press, siphon, and aeropress) but I’ve not listed them here. I feel that in comparison, these brew methods have downsides that out weigh the quality, speed, and repeatability with which you will be able to prepare these coffees for your customers.
Some shops are tempted to employ all sorts of brew methods for their brew-to-order menus and while I’m not going to out and out say that I think that’s a bad idea, I would say that it might serve you better to start with one brew-to-order brew method and only add brew methods once you are certain you’re providing a great cup every time through training and quality control.
Workflow, workflow, workflow!
Once you’ve decided which brew method you are going to use and what beans you are going to brew, the next step is to think about workflow. I mean workflow in 2 senses here. On the one hand, you are going to need to get down to brass tacks about where this brewing-to-order is going to take place, who is going to do the brewing, and every other step of the process up until/including the moment the customer grabs their drink and heads on their way/takes a seat. I also refer to workflow here in the sense of training and actual transition from serving coffee from an airpot and the next day making brew-to-order coffee.
To deal with the later process, I would advise clear communication on your behalf with the other members of your staff. If you are an existing business take this opportunity to get feedback from your staff about which brew methods they use/prefer, what beans they’d like to use, and how they would deal with the former issue of workflow from ordering to serving coffee. Chances are they are going to have opinions that could be very valuable. By inviting their input, you are showing that you are on their side and respect them as employees. You don’t have to do everything they suggest, but you have to make sure that they feel like you sincerely listened to and considered their ideas. Then, once everything is ironed out (i.e. menu cost-priced and printed, brewers and coffee ordered, bar set-up) take some time to train your staff. Brew-to-order coffee, while it may not appear as complicated as espresso, still takes skilled preparation.
To set up the actual bar workflow of the brew-to-order coffee, here are some tips:
1. Make sure that paths don’t cross.
You don’t want the person doing pour over to have to disrupt the workflow of any other the other baristas behind the bar. If the register person is responsible for brew-to-order coffee, make sure the station is near to the register, or if it’s baristas on the espresso machine (which is risky) it should be near the espresso machine. Or maybe you should have one (or maybe two) barista who is only responsible for pour-over who is stationed in a place that will not disturb the cashier or the barista on the espresso machine.
2. Prepare in advance what you can.
Make sure to pre-weigh your coffee. This first step can be time consuming and will help maintain a consistent brew ratio. There’s lots of different small containers to store your doses in. PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. uses these awesome containers from Tightvac.
Or if you’ve got a bigger budget, check out what Jesse Kahn did at World Bean: e-grinders! He’s got his modified to hold a bouillon cup instead of a portafilter.
3. Pre-weigh your water.
Instead of putting a scale under each cup or forgoing weighing the water all together, put the scale under your hot water spout have several pitchers for pouring. Once you get really good you may be able to measure the water by volume (like for milk steaming). Either way, please just don’t pour willy-nilly! Oh please, measure your water. Check out this discussion on Barista Exchange for some other people’s opinions.
4. Don’t skip steps.
Just like making espresso beverages for a long line, you/your baristas may be tempted to cut corners in order to increase their speed. Don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Rinse filters, pre-heat the brewer/vessel, and don’t forget to look up a make eye contact/smile at your customers. If you aren’t going to make excellent brew-to-order coffee every cup then why make it all?