First Day Back on the Machine

8.45am Nina’s phone goes off with Claire, of the temp agency on the other end.  Not a strange occurrence being that Nina often gets work late in the morning but, this time, Nina turned to me and asked if I was available to help in a cafe.

It has been over a year since I did any sort of time on a coffee machine so I was a little cautious in my answer but I have never shied away from any challenge so wasn’t going to start today.

A quick shower, zhoush of the hair, dig out the old work trousers and I was off on the scooter on the 40 minute ride into town.   All the way in scenarios were running through my head.
“If the coffee machine is small and I have to do 300 coffees what am I going to do?”  “Is the reason that the temp staff never showed because the boss is an a-hole?”  “Can I even make coffee anymore?”

My destination was Columbus coffee in the Air New Zealand building in Fanshawe street.  A regular Columbus with quite a large catchment of caffeine addicts.

Columbus Coffee

Getting in about 10am I was introduced to the rest of the staff, a shirt on and a quick run through of the coffee machine from Jake was me ready to pour some shots.   One of the questions actually got me worried a little and it was probably the last thing you would expect. “I guess you are quite experienced and been making coffee for years” well?  Yes I have, but every coffee machine and cafe is different, dockets are different and although you would think coffees that are named latte, flat white and cappuccino are the same the world over, no they are not.

Young Jake said “I am sorry if I sound patronizing”. My response was “never, tell me as if I am a newbie”.

As a young manager I remember having to take on older staff that we had hired and having to speak to extremely experienced staff about the most menial tasks.  I found that if I didn’t explain the menial tasks in the way I wanted them completed they would do it their own way, just like any experienced person would, then a few weeks later, teach someone else how to do it that way, before I knew it, I was surrounded by people polishing cutlery very inefficiently.

As I said before, every cafe and every coffee machine is different and Columbus use the ‘2 clicks single’, ‘3 clicks double’ system on their packing.   They then randomly check the pour time of a shot out of a “measuring” head to make sure the grind is all good.

It’s a great system and saves on waste as you are not checking the grind by making a shot all the time.

I pull my first shot with 3 clicks in the handle, it doesn’t look quite right but its a new machine to me and it maybe right, I have to go ahead and pour.  It pours in 15 seconds and looks like crap ‘DOH!  great start Alan’

Next time I check it’s a full 3 clicks and pour, PERFECT!!

From then on the only difficulty was getting used to reading he dockets and frappes.

After an hour on the machine I felt the pour coming back.

After an hour on the machine I felt the pour coming back.

It was great to be back on the machine again, in familiar territory with faces of expectation showing up behind the machine followed by that thankful glance as their addiction is satisfied by a return caffeine dealer 😉

One thought on “First Day Back on the Machine

  1. Pingback: A train journey marred by my own “Pride” | Alan Parry

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