The impact of quality equipment in the workplace – A Barista’s viewpoint.

fb80.jpgWARNING! The following post contains frequent praise of La Marzocco equipment.I love it – get used to it.We recently installed a La Marzocco FB 80 at Headquarters café in Melbourne. It replaced our 5 year old FB 70.In the 2 years that I’ve managed this café, I’ve been fortunate to have relatively low staff turnover, and the Baristas I’ve had have enjoyed working on a good machine. Even without my praise for the FB 70, the Baristas knew they were working on a piece of quality kit. I also emphasised the experience by helping the Baristas understand the differences between different machines, and further understand what they were doing with any machine. I trained my Baristas to respect the machine, emphasising preventative maintenance and the “Sins” to avoid.I’m convinced that the Baristas felt special, at some level, behind the FB 70, and I’m sure the customers also knew, at some level, that we had a quality machine.Now we have an FB 80. The FB 70 was good, but the FB 80 is sensational.Before the FB 80 was installed, I prepared my Baristas for the privilege they were about to experience. And I really mean privilege. There aren’t too many cafés that invest so heavily in this level of equipment.Anyway, my Baristas obviously enjoyed working on the new machine (who wouldn’t enjoy working on a sparkling new machine?). However, they really understood what I had been ranting about. The steam taps are great, the steam power is awesome, the pour quality is superb and the functionality is fantastic (eg. the automatic backflushing function). All of this has further sparked their enthusiasm for their craft.And the customers have picked up on this. The customers have noticed the new machine, and commented to the staff. This in turn gets my staff raving about the machine. I’ve now put a sign up explaining some of the features of the FB 80. I’m sure most of our customers just want their caffeine hit, and could care less about a PID control or saturated brewing groups. However, by providing the information, our customers are seeing just how seriously we take coffee. It’s a further point of difference in a competitive environment.And the competition is not just for sales. I’m just as keen to keep my valuable staff.So what’s my point? I really believe that quality equipment is essential for a successful business. And it’s not just La Marzocco. I’m sure if you ask Mark Dundon at St Ali Cafe, or Andrew Lew at The Maling Room Cafe, they’ll tell you the same thing about their Synesso’s.Quality equipment is reliable, easy to maintain, and good to work on. If the staff enjoy using the equipment, and they feel important because they get thorough training, it’s easier to get them making good coffee and also retain their service. If the staff make good coffee because they enjoy the process, and the equipment is capable of producing excellent espresso, then the customers are going to get a quality product. If the customers are getting a quality product, they see that the staff are passionate about what they do, and they see that the cafe cares about the equipment they invest in, then it’s easy to create customer loyalty.That’s been my experience.

8 thoughts on “The impact of quality equipment in the workplace – A Barista’s viewpoint.

  1. Andrew,
    The FB 80 does not have individually adjustable brew head temperatures for each group (unlike the Synesso). However, It does have a host of electronically controlled features (eg. programmed backflushing is a real time saver at the end of the day :-)) that make a Barista’s job so much easier and more satisfying.
    It does have preinfusion, but I haven’t examined the manual closely enough yet to see how it’s controlled. Some of the electronic controls are available to the Barista, but some are only available to a technician (password protected).
    I’ll have a look at the manual and post my findings.

  2. then the fb80 doesn’t differ much from the gb5 (which I’m playing with) except perhaps the internal working mechanics??

    the password should be “menu” button entered x5 times

    you go to the left most group of buttoms, hold the manual pour button apprx 10 secs, you will see the “water vol program”, keep holding, till “passwd” is displayed, enter above, then use “menu” button to scroll thru settings

    a couple of nifty functions I’ve discovered
    “chronos” fuction is a stopwatch that shows the shot time in seconds for each individual group. a technical judge everytime you pull a shot!

    “pre brew” ie the infusion, (tried today) makes the machine behave like a synesso with the infusion then ramp up to full pressure. (still tasting to see the difference.)

    odd question, but do you find that there is much of a delay time b4 the first few drops of coffee comes out from the time you hit the button?

  3. Andrew,

    I’ve used the “Barista” mode to adjust volumetrics.
    However, I haven’t used the “Technician” mode as I’m not supposed to have access to the password. Not sure if 5 x “Menu” will work on our machine (might give it a try, shhhhhh ;-)).
    We already have the “Chronos” function activated.
    Our infusion has approx 5 seconds before the pour leaves the spouts.

  4. I think you can specify the restrictors you get with the machine.
    We have .8 restrictors, but some prefer the results obtained with .6.
    The problem with . 6 is that they are more prone to clogging, and in a busy site, we can’t afford that problem.

  5. Personally, I think that the 0.8mm restrictors are great … probably even better than the 0.6mms. You seem to get slightly less time before the first drops, which seems to give slightly more clarity of flavour and slightly less body. I hear that LM now have stainless steel restrictors with some sort of ruby coating or something to prevent scaling over. The current teflon restrictors superseded the older brass ones for exactly that reason.

    As for the preinfusion thing, the programmable preinfusion thing lets you turn the pump on, turn it off, then turn it on again. The pump can only be switched to full on or full off. What it does at the group will presumably be determined, in part, by whether or not you are running restrictors. This is, strictly speaking, at least, different to the way that the Synesso preinfusion works – the group levers are basically a three position switch allowing you to turn the pump on, turn it off or to allow water to flow through at mains pressure. I have to admit that the Synesso lever feels and looked cool, but in practical terms whenever I worked on one and every time I have seen a barista use one, they just get flipped to the on position and the restrictor is left to manage the pressure build-up. Which is fine by me because I reckon that they do a good job. What would be interesting to play around with is a way to tail the pressure off at the end. The only thing that I have heard of that allows this is the La Marzocco paddle group used on the GS2, etc. That paddle group supposedly allows you to vary the brew pressure however you want between full pressure and off.



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