The Mud House stands as an amazing representation of where passion, genuine love of people, and a consistent pursuit of quality can take you. For 10 years now Casey and Jeremy Miller have been operating one of St. Louis' best coffee shops that gives their customers a taste of excellent coffee, food, and hospitality all under one roof.
In this conversation they talk candidly about a host of subjects related to their journey opening and running The Mud House. We discuss the challenges of setting up the business, setting up the initial menu, the evolution and organic growth of their company's structure, how they hire, knowing your strengths, allocating money for repairs, leading by example, their vision for the ideal guest experience, and so much more.
I am so pleased to have Casey and Jeremy cap off 2018 and I hope their words inspire you as we enter the new year!
SHIFT BREAK #33 : As this year comes to an end and many of us are reflecting on 2018 and planning on what we want to pursue in 2019. As we think and put together goals there is one thing that we tend to miss, and in so doing rob ourselves and others of something beautiful. Today we will chat about accurate reflection and how to invest into areas that truly make a difference personally and professionally.
Thank you all for an amazing 2 years!
Your espresso machine is probably the most expensive thing you have in the shop. It is also the heart of your cafe's operation. Taking care of it should not be left to chance unless you want a pretty big repair bill or to have your ability to do business come to a complete stand still. To help us in our pursuit of maintaining a healthy espresso machine we are joined by the coffee industry's most experienced, respected, and knowledgable technician, Terry Ziniewicz!!!
We will be talking about his top 10 best practices to make sure your espresso machine keeps working and looking beautiful for years to come. We talk about how to implement them and also how to empower your staff to take on some of these responsibilities.
As this is airing on Christmas day, consider this a present from Terry, to you and your espresso machine!
Be sure to check the instagram post of this episode for details on how you can win a free one year "Baskets Gaskets, Screens, and Screws" subscription! "U.S. shipping only"
Upcoming Coffee Fest classes:
Espresso Machine Preventive Maintenance Workshop
This hands on workshop focuses on the basic maintenance and repairs all café owner operators should know. Basic maintenance can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs that are quick and easy to remedy. Industry leader Terry Ziniewicz of Caffewerks will walk you through some of the most common repairs required to keep espresso machines in tip top shape and also provide valuable information on how to train your staff to be just as capable to troubleshoot common issues.
This workshop will cover and is not limited to the following:
• Basic Functions of an Espresso Machine
• Parts Definitions
• Daily, Weekly & Monthly Cleaning Schedules
• Brew Group Maintenance
• Pump Adjustment & Replacement
• Steam Valve Repair & Replacement
• Adjust & Replace Pressurestat
• Drain Maintenance
• Water Flow Trouble Shooting
SHIFT BREAK #32 : I love drink drills! They are an essential tool in any training I do because they work VERY well for bringing a up baristas practical bar skills and getting all staff on the same page. Today we are going to talk about what drink drills are and then cover some guidelines for conducting them effectively. When done well, and regularly, your baristas will be able to handle any scenario that comes their way.
This episode is based off a question from KTTS listener Kara Lozano of Mile Square Coffee in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
No matter where we are in specialty coffee, we have all benefited in some way from the influence of Starbucks and their immense impact on the world stage. Today we get to learn from someone who has not only been in specialty coffee since it first came on the scene in the 70's but has been at the forefront of Starbucks retail innovation and education for the better part of 23 years.
I am so very honored to welcome to the show, Sr. Project Manager for Starbucks Global, Major Cohen!
To say he has a passion for coffee would indeed be an understatement. Major's passion, curiosity, and fierce devotion to coffee, baristas and the customer experience has helped steer this global coffee powerhouse into it's most progressive expressions beginning with projects as Roy st. Coffee and Tea, 15th Ave Coffee and Tea, and the Reserve Roastery.
In our discussion we cover the arch of his fascinating career. From his beginning a second career as a barista at 45 years of age - to gaining the trust of Starbucks executives to influence and educate global markets today.
We talk about: Mentorship, keys to success in his career, the unofficial history of Starbucks, what was the catalyst for the company moving into the "3rd wave" framework? The balance of being a team player and being and independent operator, What were the challenges of establishing these concepts? How do these high-end experiences influence the other Starbucks stores? What can we do to advocate for our staff and also provide a great customer experience?
There is a wealth of knowledge in this discussion. Consider this a short but densely packed mentorship session with one of specialty coffee's greatest success stories. I know you will walk away with an expanded mindset and a new found energy to approach your work with passion and curiosity.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:
We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.
Gallup Q12 Questions
SHIFT BREAK #31 Regular staff meetings are one of the most important tools for energizing, equipping, informing, and affirming. In order to get the most out of these meetings we will be covering several tips that I have seen work wonders in conducting these gathers. With refinement and consistency the end result will be a more cohesive and well functioning cafe and an increase in staff morale.
Links to related episodes:
Kids! When you open a shop you are bound to be serving these little hot chocolate drinking future baristas right along side their single-origin cortado drinking parents. The question is, are they welcome?How do we view them? How do you serve them and still serve your older clientele well? What if we want to focus more on the grown ups? What are some best practices in serving families? Today we are exploring the topic by interviewing two different owners of two different cafes (The Old Barracks & Lucabe Coffee) who take drastically different approaches to the issue of catering (or not catering) to kids in the coffee shop. We will talk about their business, vision, and the intentions behind the policies they have in place that they feel best serves their chosen demographic. Each of them are fantastic coffee professionals running excellent shops. Their advice to us from their experiences is invaluable.
SHIFT BREAK #30 One of the most important thing you can have in your journey through the coffee industry is patience. One of the most deadly is passivity. Today we use a helpful analogy to talk about trusting the process, playing the long game, building momentum, and advocating for yourself in the cafe.
Negotiations...No matter what you do in coffee, you negotiate all the time. Whether it is for a raise, a better price from a supplier, or a lease for a new location. The question is not whether or not you negotiate, but do you do it well? Do you get taken advantage of? Do you put others on edge? The fact is that when we are faced with conflict around these small and large negotiations we often come in with an internal and then external posture that immediately ignites the situation and makes it harder, or impossible, to get what we want. This also leads to damaging our relationship with the other party.
Today's guest, Kwame Christian is here to solve this problem for us! Not only is he the host of the wonderful, "Negotiate Anything" podcast, but he is also the author of the new best-selling book, "Nobody Will Play with Me: How to Use Compassionate Curiosity to Find Confidence in Conflict"
In todays episode we dive into the compassionate curiosity framework
1. Acknowledging emotion
2. Getting curious with compassion
3. Engaging in joint problem solving
We also unpack why it is necessary to deal with your own psychology first when entering a negotiation or conflict, clarifying what we actually want, we role play some scenarios for both baristas, and owners, and get deep into the mindset and methods needed to negotiate anything.
When it comes to business we need to always be trying to position ourselves in a way that will get the best possible outcome. By following the advice in this episode you will be firmly on the road to confidently doing just that.
It’s a very special Founder Friday. I am thrilled to welcome to the show the new World Brewers Cup Campion (and first female WBrC Champ!), Emi Fukahori!!!
Not only is Emi the WBrC campion but she also runs the world-class cafe MAME Coffee in Zurich? Switzerland w/ her partner (and 2x Swiss Barista Champ Mathieu Theis.
This conversation covers so much in term of Emi’s journey in coffee to this point. From discovering coffee, to competitions, to owning and runnnng a shop, we get to hear what she has learned through all her experiences that have made her the inspiration she is.
The first half we talk competition and go the behind-the-scenes of her amazing performance. We then talk about the world of coffee shops and her experiences and lessons learned from running MAME. She give a lot of great advice and insights.
Theres a lot here so grab a cup and enjoy learning from World Brewers Cup Champion, Emi Fukahori!
SHIFT BREAK #29 : On the road to starting a shop there are things you must learn and experience that will help you get established. Today, Tim Jones, Founder of Liturgy Beverage Company, joins us on the show for a quick look into the 5 most significant factors that helped him go from a barista to a business owner. Enjoy!
If you'd like to contribute to Liturgy's Kickstarter
click the link below:
Also find Time on Social media at the links below:
The Barista Manual, The Book of Knowledge, That Binder That Never Gets Updated...whatever you call it there is usually some assortment of documents lurking in the cafe that is meant to be a resource but is more a source of frustration. Writing a high quality manual for the shop is absolutely critical to establishing a baseline of expectations nd equipping the staff and leadership to successfully operate the business day-in and day-out. Today we will be going over the top 10 things your manual must have to truly be useful as well as actually used.
I cannot overstate the importance of having a great barista manual. I hope this episode sets you up to write one that serves your cafe well!
Please visit the links below for further learning!
For resources on harassment and discrimination visit:
SHIFT BREAK #28 : On this years Thanksgiving I am so grateful for all of you listening to this show and for the amazing guests who have shared their knowledge and wisdom with us all!
This is simply a note to remember gratitude as it is key to a fulfilling career.
Working the cash register is not often seen as legit barista work. We'd rather be on the machine because we are closer to the actual product. Fact is, the register is perhaps more important than the machine as it sets up the entire experience for the guest. Either they will get a great first impression or they will have a disappointing and frustrating one that colors the remainder of their visit. As a result of our view toward this section of the bar, baristas, managers, and owners alike, under-invest in it in favor of machine and drink training. There is a real opportunity to level up your shops service and quality by re-prioritizing the register to a place of honor. Today we will discuss these things plus 6 skills that should be taught and practiced at the register to ensure the guest gets a fantastic experience and that the shop runs smoothly and delivers a truly special experience.
SHIFT BREAK #27 : When people come in to our shops they have certain expectations shaped by experiences in restaurants, bars, and other cafes. The average experience is not so great and we have an opportunity to exceed expectations. One way we do this is but the quality of attentiveness and attention we give. Today we will talk about one way to help ensure that you are always focused on the needs of the customers first and foremost.
We really do tend to put too much emphasis on what is wrong with us and others. We focus on our weaknesses and simply overlook our strengths. This missing a huge piece of what makes a successful and fulfilling career. Do you want to be able to identify your strengths and use them at work? Would you like to be able to spot the strengths of the people on your team and help them view their roles through the lens of their natural talents? Then today's episode is for you! We are exploring all of these things with Strengths Finder guru Lisa Cummings of Lead Through Strengths. We cover details of what Strengths Finder assessment is and then talk about practical ways to understand and apply it in the cafe that will unlock new levels of morale and productivity for you and your staff. Don't miss this one!
SHIFT BREAK #26 : Gossip, we have all done it and in the moment it feels good to commiserate, but gossip is a poison that destroys culture and relationships in the cafe. When things annoy you and the opportunity arises to participate in tearing down a co-worker, what should you do instead? How should we be investing into building community in the cafe by building each other up? Today we talk about this very critical issue and I hope it helps you address it with your staff and in your own career.
SHIFT BREAK #25 : When the weather turns cooler and the holidays get closer, business gets busier. Ironically, at the same time as our shop pick up steam, we seem to lose it. Our capacity to show hospitality tends to drop in the presence of heavy traffic but it is precisely these times where great hospitality is most needed. On this edition of Shift Break we talk about this issue and some solutions to implement as we enter into the busy holiday season.
Need training or consultation? Email: Chris@keystotheshop.com
Social media is a vast landscape filled with both great and terrible representations of people's brands. At best we enhance a customer's view of us and create an even bigger fan -At worst we introduce confusion, boredom, or anger into the relationship and drive people away. In order to give customers a truly excellent representation of your business on-line you need to know the fundamental best practices that lay the foundation for success. In today's episode we chat with coffee marketing professional, Jenn Chen
Jenn guides us through several critical areas that we need to be on top of with our company's social media. When should you outsource? What are the absolute no-no's of social media? How do you engage with people online? All of these and more are answered by one our industries brightest and most sought after media pros.
Training baristas effectively is a hugely important task. When done well, it sets them up for long term success in the cafe and in their career. When done poorly, it leaves them without essential tools for understanding the nature of coffee and the work of a barista which leads to frustration and stagnation. If you want learn to excel as trainers then look no further because we have the privilege of talking with 2009 WBC Champion and barista trainer, Gwilym Davies!
In this episode we talk about his hospitality based training, the evolution of training approaches over the years, why we should check our ego, needs vs. wants, how to structure your training sessions, preparing yourself to train others, and many other very helpful and practical insights that will help you become a great and effective trainer!
It's Founder Friday! Today we get to sit down and learn from the founders of Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb! In the course of 11 years, Phil and Sebastian have gone from a small farmers market stall, to an award winning and internationally respected roaster retailer with 5 thriving cafes, a robust wholesale program, and roasting and sourcing operation that regularly pushes the boundaries of quality coffee and raises the bar for the specialty coffee industry.
In this conversation we talk about an incredible range of subjects from the challenges and lessons of their formative years with staffing, leadership, operations, and service standards- to their philosophy and practices in green sourcing , quality control, roasting, and training. We cap it all off with some really great advice for those looking to venture into the world of cafe/roastery ownership.
I am in awe of the pace that Phil and Sebastian sustain in their pursuit of great coffee and after listening to this interview I think you will agree. Be sure to visit their website to learn even more!
Shift Break #24 : Every day, in coffee shops around the world, baristas notice things that are broken, see things that can be improved, and have ideas that could take the cafe to a new level. The problem is that so much of it never gets heard. Today we will be talking about how managers can give voice to these ideas and also how baristas should go about relaying them. Amazing things happen when you make improvement a grassroots effort when barista and manager are working to help each other make the best cafe possible.
Coffee and cocktails. Baristas and Bartenders. These are basically two sides of the same bar. Today we are going to get to know the craft cocktail and bartending side a little better with the help of coffee and spirits professional, Amanda Whitt! We will be talking about Amanda's journey to becoming a pro in both disciplines, the way bartenders think about drink building and flavor, making great coffee cocktails, mistakes we make combining the two, and tons of insights and tips for how to successfully integrate spirits into your beverage program. Plus we chat about the use of cold brew in coffee cocktails, etiquette for using others recipes, and tresources for further learning.
When these two worlds successfully meet it showcases both the coffee and the spirits in new delicious ways. I hope this episode inspires some great drinks!
SHIFT BREAK #23 : We all have had moments where a customer orders something "Off Script" and depending on our attitude we can either see it as an annoyance and hassle, or as an opportunity. Today we discuss how we can see these alterations and requests as opportunities for showing genuine hospitality and truly serving the needs of the guest and what we can practically do to make it a matter of policy.
Coffee shops have become a symbol of gentrification, a process that is made up of a mix of opportunism, policy, and politics resulting in the displacement of communities. As people who tout the love of community and people as being core in our values this issue should worry us. Understanding gentrification is key to being able to take steps in fighting it. Today on the show we are talking with one of the world foremost authorities on the issue of gentrification, Dr. Stacey Sutton. Dr. Sutton is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois Chicago. In this conversation we discuss her work in researching gentrification, the misconceptions people have about it, what is the difference between urban renewal and gentrification, what mindsets do we harbor in retail that contribute to the momentum of gentrification, what is coffee's role in this and how can we take the first steps to being part of the solution?
I am so honored to have Dr. Sutton on the show. This is a huge subject and I would encourage you to research further and use this episode as a springboard for learning more about the unpleasant realities of gentrification. I have provided lots of links below to help in this process. Please do reach out to you local schools of urban planning and neighborhood associations to start a dialogue.
The coffee shop is often called the 3rd place. A location where people go to gather that is not work or home that contributes to the deep bonds of a community. We cannot hope to offer a great third place unless we put as much effort into how we place ourselves and serve in communities as we do in the coffee we aim to serve those communities. When we do this I think we will see disinvestment and displacement begin to slow, and coffee, for these communities, can move from a symbol of displacement, to a true expression of place.
Resource: Next City Journal
Links to Published Research (Prefaces)