Can automation create the perfect coffee workflow?

perfect coffee workflow

Through equipment like the Perfect Moose milk foamer, Barista Technology is providing cafés with automation to create the perfect coffee workflow and reduce their cost per cup.

Rent and staff are two of the biggest challenges cafés face when it comes to turning a profit, and according to Barista Technology Australia CEO Brett Bolwell, are the main reasons they fail.

“A lot of café owners think they need to sell ‘x’ number of coffees per day to make a profit, but they don’t understand the true cost of producing a coffee,” Brett says.

“There are a lot of cafés out there, but how many actually succeed? A lot of cafés shut down after only a few years and the fundamental reason why is that rent and labour costs are expensive. It’s not just wages, it’s staff turnover – training new staff of hiring high-end experienced baristas – which can impact your profitability.”

So, what’s the best way for a café to boost its bottom line? Brett says the answer is improving workflow. The first step in ensuring the coffee bar is set up with the right layout and equipment to pump out coffee as efficiently as possible. 

“Data we’ve analysed from the Flow telemetry system – now used in 400 cafés nationally and growing quickly – showed that, in cafés with three group machines, the utilisation of all three heads is low,” Brett says.

“Many cafés buy a three-group espresso machine, but if you’ve only got one grinder, you’re not going to be able to use that machine to its maximum efficiency. Workflow in a café is critical, so café owners need to think if they really need a three group, or would a two group use the space better?”

If a café is equipped for a three-group machine, and producing a volume that warrants it, but the machine’s still not being used to its capacity, Brett says it could mean the barista needs training, the workspace needs optimising, or more equipment or staff are needed.

“In a three-group setup, you really need two baristas: one doing shots and one doing milk. In actual fact, with a bit of extra equipment, you could have one barista on a two-group machine producing the same coffee more consistently at a higher speed,” he says.

Puqpress automatic tampers have been installed in more than 19,000 cafés across Australia.

“We’ve filmed training videos with McDonald’s that show one person can deliver 40 per cent more coffee in the same amount of time using a grind-by-weight grinder, automatic tamper, and some level of milk automation.”

Brett says the Perfect Moose automatic milk foamer is the workflow jewel in Barista Technology’s crown. When an RFID-coded milk jug is placed in the holder, Perfect Moose lowers its steam arm into the milk then textures at a temperature and duration pre-programmed to match the pitcher. This means the single machine can texture a variety of sizes and types of milk – from dairy or skim to plant-based milks – with individual recipes for each. The machine comes in two models, the Perfect Moose Greg, which connects to the espresso machine’s boiler, or the Perfect Moose Jack, which comes with a boiler of its own. 

“If you can produce a coffee better, more consistently, and faster, even if that’s saving the cost of half a barista per day, looking at the return on investment, Perfect Moose pays for itself within four to five months. It might only be a couple hundred bucks a week, but that adds up over time, and for larger coffee chains, over multiple locations,” Brett says.

“For example, the café up the road from me uses a three-group espresso machine, two grind-by-weight grinders, and two Perfect Moose units, all with one barista on the bar. Before investing in that extra technology, they had to run two baristas. Now with one barista, they can deliver the same amount of coffee faster and more efficiently.”

Brett says another benefit of Perfect Moose is its ability to steam milk at higher temperatures than other milk automation devices, better accommodating requests for “extra hot” coffees. It also doesn’t need a cleaning cycle at the end of the day, instead requiring a quick wipe after use like a standard steam wand.

While the Perfect Moose handles the coffee making post-shot, Brett says a grind-by-weight or volumetric grinder and Puqpress automatic tamper will streamline the first few steps of the process.

Grinders like the Mahlkonig E65S, Mythos 2, and Fiorezanto XGIs grind coffee by volume rather than time, meaning a barista can be sure the dosage of their coffee will remain the same throughout the day. The Puqpress, available as a standalone unit or under-the-grinder model, then ensures a quick and consistent tamp, further improving workflow and efficiency.

“A busy barista can put a group handle in the grinder, which will automatically weigh the shot, and have another sitting in the Puqpress, ready to be loaded into the machine,” Brett says.

“You’re going from the grinder to the Puqpress to the group head, placing your cups, picking up your next group handle, and the cycle repeats. While all that’s happening in perfect sequence, the milk is going on the other side automatically thanks to Perfect Moose.”

Brett says the Puqpress has been installed in more than 19,000 coffee shops, which he estimates as nearly 60 per cent of the market. With the automatic tamper becoming a staple in cafés, Brett says café owners and coffee chains are becoming more knowledgeable to the benefits of automation.

“The notion of having a barista there that can talk and engage with the customer is nice, but when they’re too busy doing all these other things, pumping out 100 coffees per hour, it’s just not possible,” he says.

“What I like about some level of automation is that the barista can be more customer focused. Some people might prefer to still manually tamper and texture, but I don’t think many cafés will survive or remain profitable long-term without embracing automation.”

As the largest coffee chain in Australia, McCafé has an even greater need for consistency than most cafés. That is one of the reasons why Puqpress and Perfect Moose have been popular additions to the coffee chain, according to Dean Watter, General Manager of Jamadu – a McDonald’s Multi Store Licencee in Queensland.

“As Australia’s leading coffee brand, we are always looking for ways to improve service, consistency, and, most of all, customer satisfaction. Coffee production is a clear focus of our growth within McCafé, so having equipment that helps us alleviate the stress and potential problems of making barista coffee is essential,” Dean says.

“Products like Perfect Moose and Puqpress have helped us gain better workflow and improved coffee flavour while improving our service times dramatically.” 

Thanks to Flow, Barista Technology has been able to assess the performance of a barista and coffee bar after technology like Perfect Moose has been added to the process. Brett says the results are staggering and go beyond speed of service.

“One of the biggest things we notice is better group head utilisation. At your standard McDonald’s, for example, they’ve got a three-group espresso machine with a young person working behind it that has been trained well, but doesn’t have years of experience. Most of them can’t handle using three group heads at once, but when you bring in milk automation and take that component out, they’re able to rotate the group handles much more efficiently and get more coffees going out that drive through window,” Brett says.

“We want to create a more sustainable and profitable café industry, not the unacceptable open and closure rates we’re seeing now. Introducing a degree of automation, that makes it easier for the barista and improves workflow, is how we’ll do that.” 

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This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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