Coffee Knowledge Base

06 May 2024

Improving barista workflow through semi-automated espresso machines

Improving barista workflow through semi-automated espresso machines

To maintain a loyal consumer base and at the same time attract new customers, coffee businesses are increasingly turning to semi-automated espresso machines to optimize their barista workflow. This not only ensures consistent quality but also improves efficiency, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

Table of contents

The importance of workflow optimization

In the fast-paced world of specialty coffee, baristas juggle numerous tasks simultaneously, from crafting the perfect espresso to mastering intricate latte art. Effective workflow optimization is essential to balance speed, efficiency, and consistency. This enables baristas to serve more customers without compromising on quality or service standards.

Addressing possible staff shortages with (semi-)automation

Staff shortages and high turnover rates can be persistent challenges in the coffee industry. The demand for trained baristas sometimes outruns supply, which can lead to increased pressure on existing staff. Espresso machines that are (semi-)automated offer a solution by improving quality and efficiency while reducing operational costs. These machines not only improve the overall workflow, but can also facilitate and fasten up the learning curve for new baristas.

Automated features in espresso machines like La Pavoni and La Marzocco

Espresso machines like La Pavoni and La Marzocco incorporate advanced automation features to streamline the brewing. The following features demonstrate how La Marzocco and La Pavoni leverage automation and advanced technology to enhance the espresso-making process.

La Marzocco:

AV (Auto-Volumetric) technology
La Marzocco espresso machines with AV, have advanced auto-volumetric technology. This allows baristas to program precise water volumes for each shot, ensuring consistency and reducing the margin for error during extraction.

PID temperature control
Many La Marzocco espresso machines come equipped with PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) temperature control systems. These systems regulate boiler temperatures with high precision, maintaining stability throughout the brewing process and optimizing extraction quality.

Digital display interfaces
La Marzocco espresso machines often feature user-friendly digital displays. These interfaces provide intuitive controls for programming shot parameters, monitoring extraction times, and adjusting settings on the fly.

Pre-Infusion and pressure profiling
Some La Marzocco models offer pre-infusion and pressure profiling capabilities. These features allow baristas to customize the pressure curve during extraction, resulting in nuanced flavor profiles tailored to each coffee's unique characteristics.

Drip prediction algorithm or Integrated precision scales
Certain La Marzocco machines integrate a drip prediction algorithm or precision scales directly into the drip tray. This enables baristas to measure shot yields accurately in real-time based on mass, facilitating accuracy, consistency, ease of dialing in and it also helps to reduce waste.

Pro cool touch steam wand
A lot of La Marzocco espresso machines have a cool touch steam wand. This means that the steam wands are cool to the touch and you can touch them while you are steaming milk, or after, without scalding your hands. This also helps for a smoother workflow.

Auto steam flush
Some La Marzocco espresso machines also have an automated steam flush feature. This feauture purges a burst of steam from the steam boiler after each extraction, followed by a flush of hot water. This keeps the group clean even during the busiest hours and helps to reduce coffee residue in the group. This way the number of back flushing during service is reduced.

KB90’s straight-in-portafilter
One of the La Marzocco espresso machines, the KB90, also has the feature ‘straight in portafilter’. This might not be an automated feature, but is definitely worth mentioning, because the straight-in-portafilter also helps a lot with workflow. There is no more twisting and turning involved in putting the portafilter into place, which not only makes it easier and faster for the barista, but also eliminates shoulder elbow and wrist strain, making your coffee place a happier and healthier place to work.

La Pavoni:

Lever operation with Semi-Automatic functionality
La Pavoni is renowned for different types of espresso machines and one type is its iconic lever-operated espresso machines. While these machines require manual operation of the lever, they often incorporate semi-automatic functionality for added convenience, like automated boiler refill and boiler pressure gauges.

La pavoni lever espresso machine

Boiler pressure gauges
Many La Pavoni machines come equipped with boiler pressure gauges. These gauges provide baristas with real-time feedback on boiler pressure levels, helping them achieve optimal extraction conditions and maintain consistency.

PID temperature control
Many La Pavoni espresso machines also come equipped with PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) temperature control systems. These systems regulate boiler temperatures with high precision, maintaining stability throughout the brewing process and optimizing extraction quality.

Anti-vacuum valve
The La Pavoni Botticelli Evolution comes with an anti-vacuum valve. This prevents the formation of a vacuum inside the boiler, ensuring smooth and consistent water flow during brewing.

Steam wand control
La Pavoni machines feature manual steam wands for frothing milk. While these wands require manual operation, they often include ergonomic designs with cool touch and precise controls for steaming milk to the desired texture and temperature.

Benefits for baristas and coffee shops

Automation not only improves efficiency but also empowers baristas to focus on customer engagement and acquire new skills. By automating time-consuming tasks, baristas can serve more customers, reduce wait times, increase sales, and enhance overall satisfaction.

Training and support – OR barista training courses

Comprehensive training programs and ongoing support for baristas using semi-automated machines is an investment beyond just purchasing the equipment. This is why we at OR offer barista training courses and give free barista training courses with every purchase of a La Marzocco or La Pavoni espresso machine. We want to help businesses maximize the benefits of automation.

The OR barista training courses contribute to improving barista workflow in several ways:

Skill development
By providing comprehensive training on espresso-making techniques, milk steaming, and grinder calibration, the home barista course equips baristas with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their roles. With enhanced proficiency, baristas can perform their tasks more efficiently and confidently, leading to smoother workflow and faster service.

Through the home barista course, baristas learn standardized procedures for preparing espresso-based beverages, ensuring uniformity in taste and presentation across all orders. This consistency minimizes errors and reduces the need for rework, streamlining workflow and optimizing productivity.

Empowering baristas with additional training and education fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their work. As they gain mastery over their craft through the home barista course, baristas feel more engaged and motivated to deliver exceptional service. Which translates into improved workflow, as baristas become more invested in the success of the coffee shop.

Cross-training opportunities
The home barista course may also create opportunities for cross-training among staff members. As baristas acquire new skills and knowledge, they can share their expertise with colleagues, fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous learning. This ensures that the workload is evenly distributed and that all team members are capable of handling various tasks, further optimizing workflow.

Customer satisfaction
Ultimately, the primary goal of any coffee business is to satisfy customers. By investing in the training and development of baristas through the home barista course, coffee shops can deliver consistently high-quality beverages and exceptional service experiences. Satisfied customers are more likely to return and recommend the coffee shop to others, driving sales and contributing to overall business success.

The future of specialty coffee and automation

As the specialty coffee industry continues to evolve, automation will play an increasingly vital role in optimizing workflow and addressing labor challenges. Coffee businesses must embrace automation to remain competitive and enhance the barista experience.

In conclusion

In conclusion, leveraging automation in espresso machines, such as La Pavoni and La Marzocco, allows coffee shops to overcome staffing obstacles, improve efficiency, and deliver exceptional customer service.