June 23, 2011

Coffee training

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We’re learning how to train folks. The company has exploded is size. 1 year ago there was a single truck, I had 9 employees, and I interacted with everybody every single day. Now I’m managing nearly 100 people through managers and supervisors. And we’re trying to figure out how to give everybody the support they need to do an awesome job getting food to you, and make sure they enjoy the process.

Our prototype for training was coffee. We did a mandatory training session over the weekend for all supervisors and managers. It was really fun and I think more successful than we imagined.

We’re using videos as a first pass training tool for new employees. Check out the one I made about hot coffee. Tons more detail after the break.

It’s probably not a surprise to you all that we do a few things differently. For the coffee geeks out there here’s a list of our findings/ methods:

  1. Rinsing filters does not matter if you’re going to serve in paper cups. It just doesn’t. Sorry. We blind-tested 12 brands of paper filters. Even the super tasters could not distinguish rinsed from un rinsed.
  2. We don’t make spirals. Pour down the middle. The greatest pour-over coffee making sin in our opinion is hitting the bare filter on the side of the cone with a stream of water. Goes straight to the cup. Avoid this by keeping your hand steady, avoiding the very strong urge to spiral or loop or side-to-side.
  3. No bloom. And we don’t use a stir stick either. I like the stir stick, but we don’t need another thing to keep track of on the trucks. The bloom is also great, but introduces some serious variability. Instead we pour steady and slow for first 20 seconds, has the same effect and is much easier to train.
  4. We use Melittas. I love Hario V60s at home, but they require serious skill to operate properly. Unlike Melittas the rate of pour deterines the flow rate. (For the melitta there’s a little hole in the filter that restricts the flow). I love beehouse, finest porcelain cones I’ve tried. But they break and are expensive. Melittas work great and cost almost nothing. For those of you who are worried about plastic taste, we’ve tested that too. It hangs around for the first 10 pours or so and then is entirely absent.
  5. Coffee grind size is REALLY REALLY important. Aim for a consistent grind that gives you a 10 ounce cup in 2-3 minutes of pour time.
  6. Use filtered water. The final cup is 90% water.
  7. Use hot water, must be over 200°F. Boiling water is great. Pre-boil, not so much
  8. No need to weigh beans. Density varies almost not at all. So just measure the right amount. 2 Tablespoons/ 6 ounces of coffee.
  9. Have fun. It’s just a cup of coffee

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