So you have heard about the things you should know before opening a café. Let’s jump over to the other side of the fence and see how the world is.
With cafés opening every other day in Singapore, it is seemingly becoming a popular option for youngsters and students to work in one. Some aspire to be trained baristas, some simply love to serve. They do seem like they are always having fun – hearty laughs and chatting in between tasks.
But is it really so? There are things that happen behind the scenes, things that regular customers would not otherwise observe or realize, and they are not always the prettiest things to share.
While working in a café has its fair share of fun, let’s discover 5 Things You Never Knew About Working In A Café:
#1 CUSTOMERS HAVE THE ABILITY TO MAKE OR BREAK OUR DAY
I remember on my first day of work, my boss gave me a heads up by warning me that there would come a point in time where some customers would make me lose faith in humanity (“but continue to smile and have fun,” he continued).
While I think that this is too heavy a statement, I must say that it definitely holds a certain amount of truth in it. Having worked in a café for several months now, I have experienced first-hand how much an impact customers can leave behind, simply by their attitudes and responses towards us. Customers who are overly demanding, impatient and rude will ruin our day without a doubt, and this takes its effect on our service as much as we try to keep things professional.
On the other side of the coin, we truly appreciate friendly and understanding customers! When working and serving in a café for hours repeatedly, friendly customers are almost like an instant gratification and perks for us. Be it leaving notes for us on serviettes or simply thanking us before heading out, such gestures actually mean a lot to us especially on long days!
#2 WORKING IN A CAFÉ IS NOT GLAM AT ALL
Before I started my part-time job in the café, I was expecting something laid-back and bluntly put, brainless. And I am pretty sure this is what many of you think, too. But the job is really not as simple as it looks! There is so much more than simply “standing there and looking good”, as some would think.
As a service crew, you have to do the dishes and wash the coffee machine parts. Also, there will come many situations when customers put you in a spot and you are required to think quickly on your feet to meet the myriad of requests and expectations that they have.
For the girls, it is almost normal to have your manicured nails chipped so brace yourself if you are thinking of working in a café – there is definitely more than meets the eye! Oh, you should not wear your expensive clothes too lest they get stains!
#3 WE DO NOT GET TO EAT ALL THE GOOD FOOD
Part of the excitement about working in a café is the idea of being able to eat all the good food on work days – or so, I thought. Think endless truffles fries and chocolate tarts! But contrary to popular belief, working in a café doesn’t grant you the trump card of ordering from the menu for free all the time.
The truth is, you will be too swamped with serving and attending to customers most of the time that you would hardly have time to eat. In fact, as ironic as it may be, working in café has the potential to mess up your eating habits because you do not get to eat at regular timings; in extreme cases, it gets so crowded that you might not get to eat for the entire duration of your shift! Yes, it is part of the deal.
#4 A LOT OF HARD WORK AND PRACTICE IS PUT INTO THE CUP OF COFFEE THAT YOU SIP
Each cuppa served is the product of a lot of hard work, dedication and passion – there is so much more going on behind that cup of Flat White or Latte that you Instagram before drinking!
Pouring a clean latte art takes months after months of practice and sheer determination; it is definitely not as effortless as it looks. Baristas take their pours very seriously and they constantly try to improve on their techniques and invent new designs to present.
Some perfectionists will not serve the coffee until and unless they are satisfied with their pour. That is the amount of seriousness and dedication put into your cup of coffee. So please do take some time to appreciate the art instead of chugging it down immediately!
Read our guide to Singapore’s top independent coffee shops.
#5 INSTAGRAM-ED IT? WE SAW IT!
Thanks to Instagram’s geo-tag function, at the end of every shift, we would and love browsing through the tags to see how much you have enjoyed your time at our café. We also take the chance to look out for feedback that can help us to improve on our service and food. This is how we usually conclude our days.
That said, we are all constantly looking out for constructive comments that will help us to improve, so on your next visit, if you have something to say, it will mean a lot to us if you could take some time to pen your thoughts down.
About the writer:
Jane Y. is an undergrad and a cake-lover. She works part-time at one of Singapore’s cafes, and she spends her weekends serving very busy brunch crowds. An occasional coffee junkie, she also has a keen interest on her cuppa and she always makes sure her customers leave satisfied with their coffee and food.