Friday, June 21, 2013

The Barista's Challenge

For most of us in the coffee industry, whether we work in a hut or a traditional cafe, we are concerned with good bar flow. It's something that is expected and yet rarely discussed. Fresh Cup Magazine gives a few tips to help keep your customers happy, your drinks delicious, and your bar clean.

How long does it take for a customer to get from the back of the line to the front of the line? Most customers are perfectly fine waiting 3-5 minutes for their morning cup when they know it'll be good coffee, however, if your wait time exceeds the typical 5 min and customers are not getting a consistent taste, it may be time to check your process. Fresh Cup writer Caleb Peterson says, "it takes around 25 seconds for a shot to extract, about 15 seconds for 12 oz of milk to be steamed, and approximately 30 seconds for the coffee to be ground, dosed, and tamped." He makes the point that these are the time restraints you deal with when making a traditional latte, however, add in the time it takes to do the other parts of the process (like take an order, get the milk, wipe your bar, and take your customer’s money) and you've got about 5 minutes worth of time for one customer. While 5 minutes is not the standard, it’s certainly a practical time to shoot for.

It's easy to send a customer away with just their coffee, but what really sets a place of business apart is their salutation. Are you sending your customer away with a good feeling that makes them want to come back? The easiest way to do this is for Barista's to come up with their own saying, (or for bosses to implement one) that communicates to the customer you would love to see them again. Some examples are "Thanks for coming, please come again."; "We're glad you came, see you later!"; or even just a simple, "Have a great day."

If you have the luxury of working in a space where your customers can see what you're doing, give them something entertaining to watch while they wait. Most of us will agree that, as a customer, we'd be much more apt to forget the time spent waiting if we had something fun to distract us. If you can't show your customers how you’re making their drink, try talking to them while they wait. In the end, the customer will feel like he or she is a valued part of your business and will be more likely to return as a "regular".

The worst thing to see in a cafe is dirty counters. Why? Because that means that your drink is more than likely going to have dirt, or espresso grounds, or something else unpleasant in it. As a Barista, it’s good to be a little “OCD” about your counter tops and their appearance. Wipe the grounds, the spills, and anything else that get's smeared on its surface. Be sure to always purge and wipe your steam wands too. It may seem silly to mention since its one of the Barista's 10 Commandments, but you'd be surprised how often a shop gets busy and that wand is left with milk caked on it.

The most important thing to remember is that whether you own the cafe or not, its cleanliness, friendliness, and overall experience in the customer's eye will reflect directly back on you. Take a look at your day to day practices and implement these four tips if you haven't already.
Peterson, Caleb. Blending quality and speed behind the bar. Fresh Cup Magazine. August 2011. Pages: 46-50. Print

Friday, June 7, 2013

Health Benefits of a Good Brew

Drinking coffee may be healthier than you think!

Medical reports are starting to show that coffee is indeed a healthy addition to your daily routine, both for your daily well being as well as your overall life expectancy.

Most of us wouldn't classify a caffeinated drink every day with a healthy diet. However consider these facts:

The Journal of Alzheimers Disease says that drinking caffeinated coffee every day lowers the risk of having dimension later in life.

Harvard School of Public Health recently determined that women who drink coffee are less prone to depression (and let’s face it men…that’s in your best interest too).

University of Illinois’s sports medicine journal reports that drinking coffee is a great start to a workout as it opens airways, decreases pain, and increases endurance.

While there are many pros and cons to drinking coffee, it's not likely that we're going to kick the habit any time soon. Most of us are too reliant on our morning cup o' Joe. The good news? It looks like it may not be as detrimental to our health as we've been led to believe.

Journal Of Alzheimer's Disease: Pages 89-91
Harvard School of Public Health News
University of Illinoise: International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Buy Fair Trade?

Many of us hear the words "Fair Trade" thrown back and forth in a conversation about coffee. In its simplest terms, Fair Trade refers to the fair wage rendered for a product. While more than just coffee can be included in the fair trade market, we most commonly hear the phrase referring to beans. People want to know where their coffee comes from. A coffee roasting company prides itself on knowing specifically where it's beans have come from and having a personal relationship with the farmer.

Fair Trade can be traced all the way back to around the 1960's when the first federation to uphold this idea was put in place. The "United Nations Conference on Trade and Development" or the UNCTAD as it is now called, was developed in order to guide trade amidst Developed Word Countries and Developing World Countries (UNCTAD).

Fair Trade has now become an invaluable part of many trades and has not only allowed for economically rising countries to stake a claim in the burgeoning system of the global market, but also to make sure those who make the production of these products possible (farmers, seamtresses, ect.) get a fair wage.

This resonates with most consumers, no matter what the product, because we all know the stress of making a living can often become a tiresome burden when we are paid less than what we need to survive.

So why buy fairtrade? Why do we as consumers care? When we check out at the store with a package of coffee, rice, or a new shirt, it's great to know that the product we're buying is from a company that supports the local people who made the item and ensures they're compensated fairly for their work.

***There are many myths regarding Fair Trade (most of which can be found here).

Fair Trade Federation: "Fair Trade Myths"
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development "About Us: Who We Are" & "About Us: What We Do"

Friday, April 26, 2013


Ever feel like this guy?

Studies done by the National Coffee Association have shown that almost 83% of Americans drink coffee every day to help them stay awake or to quote the movie "Office Space", to get through a case of the "Mondays".

Do you know how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee? It can be anywhere from 40 to 200 mg of caffeine depending on the coffee to water ratio. Lots of people have different theories on just how much coffee goes into their specific blend of java, but science tells us that there is a fool proof way to know.

Most folks generally believe that a darker roast has more caffeine. Not so! It really doesn't matter what the roast quality is, light, medium or dark. What matters is how much coffee you're measuring out into that little white filter that will eventually end up in your favorite mug.

You see, with a dark roast (and this is possibly where the myth originated) the beans tend to be bigger. This is because, the darker you roast it the more water is roasted out and the fluffier the bean gets. As the water is roasted out of the bean, the bean swells and becomes larger than say, a medium roast bean. Now, when you go to grind these dark beans you'll notice that you'll need to grind a few more than normal to get the amount you're looking for to make your usual brew. Therefore, when you use more beans, the more caffeine you'll get.
So while your normal Cup of Joe may make you a little more wired than your friend's regular brew, it’s simply because you had more grounds to that filter than she did.

Voila! Myth Busted!


National Coffee Association 2013 Consumption Survey
Annual Review of Medicine: Clinical Pharmacology of Caffeine.
International Coffee Organization: Caffeine
Specialty Coffee Association of America: Decaffeination

Monday, April 22, 2013

Welcome to our Blog!

We have so much going on at North Pole Coffee and we'd love to share it with you! We are constantly changing, like any good business, and with change comes added aspects to our company. Between batch roasts and deliveries we're working on Barista Training Classes and hoping to launch our Office Coffee Program very soon. Of course we still do the day to day orders for those who call in or email us and need their fix of Black Gold or St. Nickerdoodle, and we're here every Monday-Friday 7AM-3PM to answer all your coffee questions.

In the middle of all our progress our deepest desire is to connect with our customers and our community. We thoroughly enjoy the occasional complement on our facebook page or the kind words from a satisfied customer when we drop off product at one of the many coffee huts in town. We're excited to begin yet another endeavor to share our love of coffee with those who love it as much as we do!