The last few months have certainly not been easy for coffee shops. When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, most cafés across the world were forced to close their doors. And while things are not yet truly back to normal, many are now ready to reopen with some limitations in place.
Many of these limitations revolve around two crucial priorities: safety and good hygiene.
While cleanliness and good hygiene have always been something that coffee shops address, things have changed. It is no longer something that customers just expect – in many parts of the world, it is now a legal requirement.
So, how do you do everything you can to keep your coffee shop hygienic? And which precautions should you be taking? Read on to find out more about some of the measures you can take.
Lee este artículo en español Cómo Mantener tu Tienda de Café Limpia y Segura
How Has Covid-19 Changed Coffee Shops?
“Essentially, everything has changed, from setup to service to customer interaction,” Dustin Khan tells me. Dustin is the Sales & Business Development Manager at CloudPicker Coffee in Dublin, Ireland. “For a while, we were serving through just the front of the cafe from near the door.
“However, when restrictions were softened, we set out a plan to allow customers to enter the shop. Now, they have a bigger selection to choose from, and feel more safe and welcome indoors, like they did before Covid-19.”
Many coffee shops have also limited their capacity, by lowering the number of tables inside, introducing a limit on the number of customers allowed inside, or reducing their hours of service. One-way systems to control foot traffic within the shop are also becoming more common.
Gemma Kiernan is the Head of Marketing at Marco Beverage Systems. She says: “Coffee shops are also trying to limit the number of touchpoints or to make them more hygienic in general.
“This includes reminding staff to wash their hands regularly or trying to adapt their systems to touchless usage.”
You may also like How To Ensure Consistency When Cupping Coffee
As coffee shops adapt to the “new normal”, they’ve also found new or innovative ways to keep their customers caffeinated. According to the Square x Coffee Report, curbside, pickup and delivery orders have all increased.
There have been changes in how customers pay, too. The report shows that both consumers and business owners have stopped relying on paper currency. Instead, more and more coffee shops are opting for contactless forms of payment.
“The service has perhaps in ways become more complete,” Dustin explains. “While in the past we used to allow customers to put their own sweeteners in their coffee or put lids on themselves, baristas now do that to minimise touch contact.
“We need to remain super vigilant in these times, and keep adhering to guidelines set out by the health departments and governments,” Dustin says.
How To Keep The Coffee Shop Clean And Hygienic
So, what practical measures can baristas and café owners take to keep their coffee shops as clean and hygienic as possible?
- Distance Customers From Equipment And Other People
Your first aim should be to eliminate or limit the number of potential customer touchpoints in the coffee shop to reduce cross-contamination between employees and customers.
You can remove communal condiment bars, for example, which provide sugar, cream, sweeteners, and so on, to reduce the number of touchpoints in the shop. Baristas should instead ask customers beforehand if they would like anything added to their drink.
Social distancing measures are in place in a number of countries around the world. Be sure to keep this in mind when serving customers, especially if they’re dining in.
For example, if you offer seating for customers, consider offering table service. This will reduce the number of customers moving around inside the coffee shop, and help to eliminate queues which can be difficult to monitor and control.
Additionally, even with distancing measures in place and a reduced number of touchpoints, you should still clean and sanitise areas and surfaces regularly.
- Minimise Barista Touchpoints
As well as keeping customers safe, you should also limit touchpoints among your baristas. The best way to remove the number of things that baristas touch is simple: keep a well-organised, clutter-free countertop. Put a regular cleaning schedule in place, and make sure you keep to it – this will help to further minimise clutter and contact.
“Run a tight ship, basically,” Dustin tells me. “Keep strict cleaning schedules, make sure all staff are informed about their tasks, and see that they follow them specifically. Staff must take every available precaution to minimize risk for public safety.
“It also helps with staff and customer comfort. If staff and customers can see that the cafe is actively trying to create a touch-free experience, they know that the management take health and safety precautions seriously.”
One of the best ways to remove touchpoints is by installing or using hands-free equipment. Take Marco Beverage Systems’ FRIIA water fonts, for example, which are launching this autumn.
They are designed to dispense water without baristas touching anything. “You simply push down on the lever with the weight of the cup and it begins the normal fill function,” Dustin tells me. This minimises the barista’s physical contact with the equipment by eliminating the need to touch a switch or button.
- Strict Cleaning And Hygiene Procedures
In the food and beverage industry, good cleanliness and hygiene have always been an area of focus. However, it has now become a number-one priority across the sector.
“What Covid-19 has essentially done is eliminated the trust factor in hygiene,” Dustin explains. “Where, in the past, we as a community trusted that a sneeze or a cough was just that, now we can’t be sure.
“Regularly cleaning surfaces and equipment is no longer a recommendation, it’s now a requirement, because of the unknown.”
Dustin recommends setting up a sanitising station for customers at the entrance to your coffee shop. He also says somebody should be cleaning and sanitising surfaces at least every 30 minutes, especially the surfaces customers touch the most. He adds that baristas should, in particular, focus on cleaning during busy periods.
Frequently touched surfaces include doorknobs, equipment handles, check-out counters, tables, menus, and more. It’s also important to regularly disinfect bathrooms, floors, and other areas which see a lot of foot traffic.
Finally, Dustin suggests having an entry and exit system, which will ensure customers follow a predictable route. “Keeping that route tidy is the simplest way to keep your site clean and safe,” he notes.
Gemma adds that hands-free equipment, such as Marco’s FRIIA fonts, make cleaning and maintaining hygiene procedures much easier. As they’re relatively small and have a simple design, they aren’t difficult to clean or maintain.
Marco’s FRIIA range also comes with an undercounter chiller. This means that the only part of your water dispenser in a high-contact area is the font itself, which can be cleaned in a matter of seconds. Altogether, this helps to eliminate the number of surfaces that baristas come into regular contact with.
- Take Care Of Your Staff
If staff work in a secure environment, they will feel safer and more confident about coming to work each day.
Set alarms for team members to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. It’s also crucial that you provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks/shields and gloves.
“The most important thing right now is checking staff temperatures before everyone starts a new shift,” Dustin says. “This should ideally be done before they enter the premises, ensuring that everyone stays as safe as possible.”
You’ll also need to have a procedure ready if someone tells you that they’re not feeling well or presenting symptoms of Covid-19. Ideally, you should send them home and have them tested as soon as possible.
Finally, appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone; wellbeing in the workplace is important. Dustin says: “We are all human and we make mistakes. Forgetting a mask or sneezing into your hand are common, because we are all teaching ourselves new behaviours.
“It is up to us to help each other out by calling out a mistake or a wrong action, but you should do it in the nicest possible way.”
Covid-19 has illustrated the importance of maintaining a clean and safe working environment for everyone, in coffee shops and beyond, By implementing measures such as cleaning schedules, handwashing alarms, and minimal or hands-free touchpoints, you provide more security for both customers and staff.
It is a challenging time for the entire coffee sector, and it can be hard to adapt to these many new measures. However, by protecting ourselves and the people around us, we make sure that we are doing everything we can. In the meantime, by following these tips, you can still provide a delicious cup of coffee to your customers in a safe and hygienic environment.
Enjoyed this? Then read What Café Owners & Baristas Need To Know About Water Quality
Photo credits: Gisselle Guerra
Perfect Daily Grind
Want to read more articles like this? Sign up for our newsletter!