It is extremely easy to get caught up in the aesthetically pleasing appearance of cafes, especially ones that house beautiful roasters like the one we have here at Virtuoso. Espresso machines, grinders, pour over mechanisms all have such an appealing yet minimal look to them, and to the customer they seem antique, intricate and difficult to handle. The baristas also provide the everyday coffee enthusiast with ample stimulation. They grind, pull, and design your drink, right in front of your eyes.
The specialty coffee experience is beautiful, but there is one major contributor to a roaster’s success that is commonly overlooked. It takes place at workstations similar to the one captured below. This is production. We are the worker bee or the work force of any roaster. Our job title means many things and we are a key part of any roaster’s success. We label, stamp, and package hundreds of pounds of coffee in a day. We navigate pallets of green coffee and manually move around bags that weigh 150 pounds. We adorn ourselves in coveralls and have our heads stuck in the roaster for hours at a time, scrubbing and scraping away at what the previous week’s roasting left behind. We do not have an easy or a glamorous job, but we love it.
Before being given this position I was told that, “It wasn’t for everyone.” I was told that it was an extremely important position, and that my work has more of an impact with customers than you would think. The bag of beans that is so beautifully displayed in the store front is the only connection most customers will have with the company. Aunt Sue may have bought her nephew a bag of Guatemala before he set out to college, or Mr. Jerry probably shipped out a bag of our Cove blend to his client in New York as a nice gesture for their business. Because of these quaint encounters with these unique customers, our bags need to be beautiful and consistent. We do our best to not overwhelm our customers with brew instructions, excessive logos, and other things that might make it easier to produce a bag that hides imperfections and neglectful work. We keep it simple so that you know exactly what origin your about to brew, and where your quality roasted beans come from.
Production is not for the type-A personality. My loud and obnoxious self actually had to adjust accordingly. Attention to detail for hours at a time is an epic task to tackle, and it takes a lot out of you when you’re first getting accustomed to it. But what really matters is that you take ownership of your work and that you see yourself as a substantial part of your company. You need that drive to rip off and redo that off centered label, or do just the right math on that popular blend.
I hope we were able to give you a little insight on a fun yet overlooked part of running a successful cafe.