3.15.2007

brewing blues

yesterday i had an exceptionally good day at work. not only did mr. split personality assistant manager turn over a totally amazing shift, my manager has been going out of his way to make sure his baristas are getting the hours they need. he’s even found shifts for us at other stores, which really is going above and beyond.

we also have two newbies who are super fast learners, and a third newbie who isn’t catching on as fast as we’d all like, but is putting every effort forth to get the job done. so even with newbies and newly transferred assistant manager, my little bux is starting to feel like very harmonious environment.

but (and you all knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?) we are now having our brewing event.

bux has a brewing event every year and basically this is one time the execs in seattle ask us to REALLY push our espresso and coffee makers.
i am not a fan of the brewing event and here’s why:
1. there is a reason i’m not a car salesman. i abhor ‘selling’ a product to a consumer. what i love about being a barista is the customer comes to me, orders what they want, and i make it. i don’t have to approach them, chat them up, and pray that they’re willing to drop a grand on an espresso maker so that i can pay my rent.
2. it’s hard enough to pull a barista off the floor to grind some beans in the middle of a rush. what’s worse is to have a barista off the floor for twenty minutes to demo a coffee machine to a customer who really isn’t interested in buying it anyway.
3. it’s a bit of a sham. they want us to entice customers to drop a lot of money on an item bux doesn’t really want them to use. honestly, if everyone made their own coffee and espresso, bux wouldn’t be as profitable a company as it is.

the one item i feel comfortable pushing during the brewing event is the french press.
why?
because they’re relatively inexpensive, and it’s very difficult to get french pressed coffee in a cafĂ© (plus it tastes SO much better than regular drip coffee), so i don’t feel bad about peddling a french press because i truly believe in the product and bux doesn’t prepare coffee in this manner (well, unless you specifically request it, and even though the barista will smile and says ‘no problem!’ they are cursing you inwardly).

of course i’m going to be a good sport and demo machines when customers ask about them as well as offering to explain why our coffee makers are superior to those you find in the grocery market. but i’m really glad i only have to do it once a year.

partner rant: please don’t tell newbies, ‘oh, you don’t have to really clean that – just wipe it down. brat cleaned it last night so we don’t have to do it tonight.’ don’t pass on your bad habits to newbies, and don’t tell them they can half-ass things if i’ve worked the night before. that’s just wrong on every level.

14 comments:

6th Floor blog said...

I'm not an addict, but the reason I goto Starbucks is so I don't have to make my own coffee. I've never had french press coffee, but then I'm not that into plain coffee yet. I'll have to keep it in mind.

Andrew said...

Coffee makers are those things that sort of just cycle through a person, I'm sure everyone has gone through at least one. I myself really don't want another one.

egan said...

Ha, you're going to love that I discovered your blog. My wife just happens to be one of those people in your Seattle headquarters. I'm going to keep a very close eye on what you say.

I'm totally kidding. The brewing event is nice, but pushing sales of the machines can't be fun. Thankfully it doesn't last too long. I like what you have to say here. I used to be a barista myself, it's how I funded my college education. Have a good weekend.

Little Penguin said...

I just discovered French Press coffee. When I moved to the West Coast my goal was to find a place with a balcony, a view, and get a French Press coffee maker and I will have no problem waking up for work.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the brewing sale so much. I used to be in retail so its fun to flex the ol' selling muscle once in a while. but yeah, it is hard to sell machines to people who want to come in and buy their coffee.

SkippyMom said...

Completely valid point - why sell something that is going to take business AWAY from your company? Um, duh?

I need to actually get out of my car and stop going through drive thru at Bux, I had no idea y'all sold coffee machines...hee!

Your rant was great - I must say as annoying as what the partner did was it was a great back handed compliment in a fashion. You cleaned it so well they know [and have] they "skate" one more night.

You rock Brat!

Monica said...

Brat, I want to comment on every single post...but if I keep reading (it is very hard to stop by they way) I will be flooded with unpleasant yet fairly hilarious memories of my years in the green apron. Love the blog.

Sling said...

I know what you mean about "selling"..
I tended bar for a So.Cal chain resturant,and we were reqired to tell every customer about our "Daily drink Special"..Imagine the looks you get from a harried business man that orders a double Scotch on the rocks,and you ask him if he would like to try our "Bubble-gum Margarita!"..it wasn't pretty..

pseudostoops said...

I am always perplexed by the very expensive espresso machines for sale in the Bux. I mean, they must sell *some* or they wouldn't keep doing it, but I can't imagine who comes in for a cup of coffee and leaves a grand poorer with an espresso machine.

Lisa said...

I can relate to your rant. I was working the technical help desk for our county government and "they" hired a new night help desk person because the previous one had moved up to be a PC technician. While the old night guy was training the new night guy, I overheard him telling the new hire "don't worry about the paperwork. It's supposed to be done at night but "day help desk" can do it". The "paperwork" consisted of hundreds of new network account requests from the Sheriff's office that had to be entered into the system and forwarded to our network engineers to have the accounts created. Isn't it nice to think of a bunch of people who are working in our county jail but they can't access anything on the computers . . . like the automated lock down functions if something should go wrong. But don't worry, "day help desk" will do the paperwork, in between the hundreds of calls coming in from people having pc issues . . . lol. My motto is "you don't have to teach people how to slack off".

barista brat said...

6th floor blog - it's definately worth trying!

andrew - very true. and i know several people that have purchased coffee makers, but have never taken them out of the box.

egan - give me a heart attack, haha!

little penguin - i think my work day would go better if i had the balcony, the view and a french press as well.

anonymous - yeah, i have no problem talking up our product to someone who is actually interested in buying one, but i hate pushing it on someone who just came in for a tall drip.

skippymom - i've missed you!

monica - thanks for stopping by!

sling - omg, i think i know what chain your talking about! i'm laughing when thinking about you trying to upsell to some guy who just wants to drink in peace.

pseudostoops - yeah, they are super expensive. everyonce in a while someone will splurge (usually it's a wedding or housewarming gift).

lisa - i think i'm going to make a t-shirt of your motto.

Johnny Yen said...

" (well, unless you specifically request it, and even though the barista will smile and says ‘no problem!’ they are cursing you inwardly)."

I had a good laugh at that one-- for waiters it's people ordering tea. I drink tea myself-- at home-- but at a restaurant it's a production for a waiter. For some reason, no restaurant owner I've ever worked for, including the great guys I work for now, can conceptualize putting all the things to make a damned $2.00 cup of tea reasonably near one another. We'll get your tea, but we're taking your name in vain.

I think I asked before-- did you see the article in the New York Times a few weeks back? How the CEO of Starbucks thinks Bux has lost something in it's phenomenal growth-- fastest and largest ever of any retailer, including McDonald's. When you mentioned that they want you to become an espresso salesperson, I thought of that-- it seems to me that they're in danger of losing their soul. The article talked about this-- that they're at a crossroads.

egan said...

Yeah, don't ever take me too seriously, but she does work in your mothership.

mellowlee said...

Ug, sorry you have to put up with the event. I have a press at home, and absolutely love it. I refuse to buy a drip coffee maker, even though it is easier and makes more. Quality over quantity ;O)