During my recent dalliance into the cafe world the exact opposite of this question has been flowing through my brain! Having been a tutor of the C&G VRQ in barista skills for quite a while and a trainer at Pumphreys for much longer I have seen lots of differing skill sets and personalities passing though. Identifying people’s good points and bad points becomes easier after time although people never fail to surprise you. One of the most enjoyable parts of the VRQ is discussing service. Part of the course is a whiteboard session where the trainees shout out their best and worst service experiences. I don’t know if this is an English thing but in my experience people are able to spot negative behaviour or experiences a lot easier than positive. They find it very hard indeed to pick out their best service experiences.
In that light my I would like to answer the question in exactly the opposite way and reverse my answers to highlight the positives!
How to brew coffee well and still send people away in droves!
If you really want to put people off you should probably not wash your hands. I’ve found that having grounds staining your hands and espresso dribbling on your fingers every now and again looks great. Rubbing your hand through your hair and then dosing espresso, picking coffee cups up with your fingers in the rims, never rinsing your jugs or cleaning up your little spills and always wiping your hands on your apron whilst changing it as little as possible makes people feel sick. If they feel sick they will probably just walk out. Unfortunately for you, you won’t be able to tell which disgusting skill to accredit this to! Dam!
Have an untidy look.
Maintain a scruffy demeanour and ‘look lazy’. This really puts people off and is excellent for creating a lasting first impression that will increase the likelihood of non returning customers. Great! Also, as a bonus, people automatically assume that you don’t know what you are doing and can’t wait to leave for the day!
Turn your nose up at people who ask for very basic advice on home coffee brewing. Make them feel like they are small and stupid by sniggering when they ask their trivial questions. Always maintain that you know best and that they couldn’t possibly know more about coffee than you. Tutting is also good! If someone politely returns a coffee to you asking if they could have it heated up always assume that it is the customers fault for not understanding that ‘We foam our milk like this to get the best flavour’ or ‘we don’t caramelise the lactose at that temperature’ or ‘ It’s to stop the proteins de-naturing’ etc. If you can get away with it tell them that they are wrong directly to their face or even better mumble grumpily as they are walking back to their table. Never actually test the coffee to see if they are right! Use the words ‘don’t, can’t, no, not and won’t as much as possible! Point blank refuse to serve americanos to anyone!
Let people wait.
Only acknowledge people when you are serving them and chat to other staff when you are doing that. This helps people think that their custom means nothing to you. Make them think that you think they are lucky that they are even getting your service and you have better things to chat about like ‘that thing Gwilym did’, ‘the new machine at [insert new London cafe name]’ or ‘@coolbarista’s newest post’.
Don’t clear tables.
Maintain constant table clutter. There is nothing better that getting a customer to clear up after other customers before they can drink their coffee to put people off. This one is a winner! Don’t clean them for gods sake!
Have I missed anything?