As many of you saw on Twitter (follow me!), I recently was given a job at a local coffee shop, Yellow House Coffee. The shop isn’t grand in size, but the quality of the coffee and the community make up for that in a heartbeat. Yellow House opened almost a year ago in the Summer of 2013 and has made quite a name for itself in the Lubbock community for serving incredible coffee, and not lacking a welcoming spirit. I am very proud to now be a part of this team.
I began training with the owner, Lance, last Tuesday, and have learned bookoos of things concerning customer service and preparing product. I’ve had many successes, but I’ve also had a pretty good share of mistakes. I present to you a recounting of my first week:
Day One – Tuesday, the 20th of May
My first day was better than I could have imagined. I am an espresso prodigy. Just kidding. I’ve barely even looked at our machine.
Lance, my fearless leader, was extremely patient with my nearly complete lack of knowledge of Yellow House’s procedures and walked me through many of the basics. Engaging with customers, using the register, and preparing simple drinks and pastries were on the list for day one. It wasn’t difficult, but I did experience a jolt of adrenaline when half a dozen people walked through the door only ten minutes into my first shift. Talk about having to learn the register quickly!
Charge the correct amount and don’t forget to deliver the product. Important lessons learned on day one.
— Garrett Oden (@TheGarrettOden) May 20, 2014
I broke a sweat the first time I charged a woman incorrectly. How could I do such a thing to an innocent woman?! At another point I forgot to fill up the rest of a man’s mug (I was waiting for the french press to finish brewing) and I spotted him driving away. He paid for a full cup, and only got three fourths. I beat myself up over that one too. Then I realized some things are bound to happen every once in a while. Staying calm and learn from it.
Day Two – Thursday, the 22nd of May
My second day of training was just as great as the first, if not better, but also had its share of mistakes. At one point I delivered a lemonade and a water to the woman who ordered it – or so I thought. About ten minutes later the woman who was supposed to receive those drinks walked to the bar and very politely reminded us that her order hadn’t been fulfilled. Oops. Lesson learned: pay attention to who orders what.
Later on Lance challenged me to prepare three items as efficiently as I could: a cookie, a Clever, and a chai latte. My first attempt turned out well for the products, but it took me a whopping ten minutes. Too long. Upon my second attempt, I broke the cookie, steamed the milk horribly, and knocked over the Clever, spilling coffee all over the counter and floor. But I chopped off three minutes of my time. Lesson learned: don’t sacrifice quality for speed – learn to master both at the same time.
Don’t spill the Clever and deliver the product to the right person. At least I remembered. Important lessons learned on day two. — Garrett Oden (@TheGarrettOden) May 22, 2014
Small mistakes aside, I had a great time. Lance reviewed the brew methods and ratios with me, got me started with a bit of milk steaming, and I became much more confident with the register and pastries. An excellent day two it was.
Day Three – Saturday, the 24th of May
Saturday mornings are typically rush times at Yellow House. Customers pour in by the dozens to experience fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls, and listen to live music. Needless to say, I was kind of nervous. Luckily, there were two other employees with me and the rush was less intimidating due to heavy rain and the exodus of students from Lubbock for the summer.
Still, more people were ordering more products than I had the pleasure of experiencing on Tuesday and Thursday, leading to some great training on time efficiency and multitasking. To my surprise and delight, I was hardly nervous. I was actually quite relaxed, and I think it made a big difference on my performance and on the people we were serving. Customers like to be greeted by happy and relaxed baristas.
Relax, enjoy yourself, and serve people. Important lessons learned on day three.
— Garrett Oden (@TheGarrettOden) May 24, 2014
I greatly look forward to learning and improving in every way, but I’ve got my eyes set on discovering how espresso works. It’ll be a while before I’m skilled with pulling shots or steaming milk, but I am determined to be the very best I can be.
The Future of Coffee Brew Guides
As you may have noticed, I’ve slowly began turning this site from a stoic “guide” blog, to more of a personal one. I really enjoy writing about my own coffee journey and want to deliver more of that. I won’t drop the guides or news coverage at all – I love that too! But I don’t want to shy away from sharing parts of my life with you.
I hope you will continue to go on this journey with me. I look forward to serving you.