Your barista knows more about you than you think. Sounds creepy, but it’s true! We baristas are a curious and inquisitive lot. We get to meet hundreds of people every day and as a result we’ve become quite proficient at reading people! Many of us call into our local Adelaide café and see our barista daily. Naturally, there is a reciprocal getting to know one another! What you may not realise is that there is a trove of things your barista already knows about you before you’ve even told them! Read on and allow me to explain…
We know how you’re sleeping!
Of course you drink coffee because you love the taste… but it’s ok to admit that from time to time (most days) you rely on the caffeine in your cup to provide you with just enough motivation to get you through the front door at work! Let’s be honest, for most of us coffee lovers, our brain doesn’t get out of first gear until we’ve had our hit.
Some days require a greater level of caffeine dependency than others. Some days, for whatever reason, we’re coming off the back of crappy night’s sleep! It might have been that the baby kept us up all night, or that we couldn’t stop thinking about the presentation we have to give at work the next day. Either way: your barista knows! When Bob with the small latte suddenly asks for a quadruple shot large latte; we know something’s up!
Bub on the way?
When someone who has always ordered caffeinated coffee suddenly switches to decaf, there are usually only 2 reasons:
Their doctor has recommended it.
There is a general consensus among the medical world that women who are expecting should limit their caffeine intake. Many women therefore decide to eliminate their daily full-strength espresso coffee from their diet and replace it with a decaffeinated equivalent. The hilarious fact of the matter is that quite often the barista is the second person to find out about said pregnancy. More than once while working behind the coffee machine at First Things First Coffee I have been sworn to secrecy by excited soon-to-be mums!
You’ve started a diet!
If you’ve decided to jump on the health bandwagon, there is a fair chance your barista has figured it out, even before you’ve told them! It’s not the fact that you’re standing there in activewear, reading a copy of Men’s Fitness; it’s the change to your coffee order. It might be that you’ve dropped the sugar from your drink, or even more drastically; changed from a milk-based to a water-based coffee. For most people, their coffee is right at the top of their food pecking order; it’s the one thing they won’t change come hell or high water! Therefore, when we see that someone has changed up their coffee order for the healthier, it’s often an indication that there are some broader lifestyle changes being made in their lives as well.
The state of your guts!
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with lactose. For an increasing number of Adelaide coffee drinkers, being able to enjoy a latte with dairy milk is a concept that their guts simply no longer agree with! When a regular customer switches from dairy milk to a non-lactose milk (such as soy, almond, coconut or Zymil) it could be an ethical decision or a weight loss decision; but 9 times out of 10 it’s a gut health decision! If you think it’s a bit weird that your barista knows the state of your digestive health, you’re absolutely right; it is weird!
Your relationship status
Ok, so here’s the scenario. John and Jane are a nice young couple that pop in to their local Adelaide café every single weekday to grab their two soy lattes. They share a few minutes of friendly banter with their barista and then just like that, they’re out the door again and on their way to work. This happens every day like clockwork. All of a sudden, Jane starts coming in by herself. Could John be away on business? Maybe he’s down with the flu and taking a few days off work? As the weeks go by, it starts to become evident that John and Jane are no longer together! Jane has finally realised what her friends have been telling her for years: ‘Girl, you can do better’! She didn’t even need to fill in her attentive barista of the news: they’d already guessed it!
Reckon you’ve got a job that requires you to be good at reading people? Tell us about it below!
Be honest; do you know what your coffee order actually means? Are you the sort of person who has ordered a flat white every day for the past 10 years without actually understanding what a flat white is? Have you ever wondered why coffee costs as much as it does? Do you have questions that you’ve always been too embarrassed to ask your barista? This article is going to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I’ve received whilst behind the coffee machine at my Adelaide café. It’s also going to tackle some of the common myths that surround coffee and the coffee industry.
Flat White/ Latte/ Cappuccino… What the Difference?
One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is “what is the difference between a flat white, a latte and a cappuccino?”. Well firstly, they all have the same amount coffee. No one drink is comparatively stronger or weaker in actual caffeine content. Secondly, they all have basically the same amount of milk! The only real difference between the three beverages is the amount of foam in each. Technically speaking (and this will vary depending on who you talk to) a cappuccino has about 2cm of foam, a latte has about 1cm of foam and a flat white has less than 1cm of foam.
Make it Strong!
Another one that I hear quite a bit is ‘I’d like my coffee nice and strong, so can you just run the shot for longer’. Your barista should never, ever run a shot for longer in order to make it stronger. To understand why this is never ok, we must first understand that when we extract a shot of espresso, we are in fact extracting the soluble ‘oils’ from the coffee. Only around 30% of the coffee we put in our group basket is actually soluble. When we extract a coffee shot, we only want to run our shot long enough to extract these oils; any longer and we’ll only damage our espresso. It’s the job of the roaster and the barista to work out the optimal ‘yield’ (the amount of liquid espresso to be extracted) from that particular coffee in order to achieve a nice, well balanced espresso. If we run the shot for longer than deemed ‘optimal’, we’ll end up with bitter, watery liquid diluting our otherwise beautiful espresso.
If you want a stronger coffee, my advice is to ask for an extra shot!
Coffee is Cheap as Chips to Make!
Nope. Just nope!
My favourite coffee myth of all? “Coffee is dirt cheap to make”…
There’s a reason why Adelaide Café owners generally aren’t driving around in Ferraris and lounging on private yachts. Coffee is not as cheap as you think and margins aren’t as great as you think!
Think about any product that you’ve bought lately. It might be a car, or a television or a packet of biscuits! If you pay very little, you can expect a relatively poor quality product. If you pay more, you can expect a better quality product. This is absolutely true in coffee. Your favourite Adelaide cafés don’t have a line out the door because they buy the cheapest, nastiest coffee they can find… They have a huge, loyal following because they value quality and are happy to shell out the extra dough for high end coffee.
The other thing that is rarely considered is labour. Next time you’re in your favourite Adelaide coffee shop, have a look at the number of staff on. Now, multiply that by the hourly award rate. Now add superannuation! Ok, sure, you’ve come in during a rush and the hard-working staff have just pumped out 10 coffees in a matter of minutes… but what about the quieter periods? What about the set-up and pack-up time that brings in no revenue. For many businesses, labour is their single biggest expense.
The truth is that most coffee shop owners opened their business not to become rich, but because they are passionate about coffee.
The final myth I want to bust is around ‘annoying’ orders. Every so often I have a customer that orders their extra hot skim latte with half a stevia filled ¾ full, then apologises for their ‘annoying’ order! If this sounds like you, I want you to stop apologising! In fact I want to reassure you that there is nothing annoying about your order. As professional baristas we are adaptable, efficient and precise and if your barista moans about how complex your coffee order is then you probably need to change baristas! Have your coffee the way you want and don’t be ashamed of your decaf, caramel ice mocha with whipped cream!
Hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions and provided some insight into the topic that we are so passionate about here at First Things First Coffee. Now it’s your opportunity to ask those questions that you’ve been too embarrassed to ask in real life! We like to think of ourselves as a café Adelaide can engage with, so don’t be shy; comment your questions below.