I have written before on this blog about how much I enjoy drinking coffee at Caffe Nero. There are a few reasons for this, for example, the coffee is nice and consistent. I have found that when you buy an Americano in Birmingham it is a similar almost identical experience to an Americano in London.
However recently I realised that there was another reason why if given the choice I will choose Caffe Nero over any other major coffee chain.
I was pleased to find out that Caffe Nero had opened a branch in Weston-super-Mare, we had only just got a Costa on the High Street and it was nice to have a choice, especially after my favourite local independent coffee shop had closed and had been converted into a kebab shop!
Recently I was in Weston for a while, as one of my children attended a party on the pier and needed to kill some time. So I thought to myself, aha, grab a coffee at Caffe Nero, use their free wifi and get some stuff done.
I walked on over to Caffe Nero and joined the queue, well there was one person in front of me, so hardly a queue. As I waited, I looked over the cakes and biscuits, convincing myself that, yes they did look very nice, but no you didn’t need any of them. I was then served and the staff acted as though they had drunk eight espresso coffees. They were acting “busy”, jumping around each other, almost running, which when you consider the average size of a coffee counter takes some doing. They were shouting at each other about what to do and what my order was… a short Americano with cold skimmed milk on the side.
My first reaction was they were acting like this as there must be a huge queue behind me, one that must have crept up as I waited. I turned around and saw, that, there was no one. I was the only person at the counter, but here was three staff frenetically, frantically, hyperactively making me my coffee, shouting out as they did, as though they needed to do it really quickly as there was a huge number to make and to reduce the waiting time… checked again, no there was only me.
As I sat down at a table, got the laptop out and started to drink my coffee, I started to reflect. One of the reasons I realised why I really liked Caffe Nero was because of the calm ambience and atmosphere. As I drank my coffee the staff behind the counter continued to be hyperactive, shouting at each other orders, even though they were standing next to each other. It was noisy and distracting.
Yes I can see how such “behaviour” may be necessary in a fast moving establishment, such as at a railway station, where people want to grab a quick coffee and run to catch their train. However this was a high street coffee shop, a place where people want to catch their breath from the hustle and bustle of shopping, a moment of calmness and tranquillity as they drink their coffee and eat their sandwich or cake.
Well as I sat there in Caffe Nero in Weston-super-Mare that wasn’t what was happening. The frenetic, frantic and loud staff ruined the ambience and made the place feel like a fast food burger joint on a Friday night. Slight disclaimer, I don’t recall (if ever) I have been in a fast food burger joint on a Friday night so this comparison might be slightly unfair. As far as I know on a Friday night these burger joints might be calm tranquil places with violins playing. So just to rephrase, “and made the place feel like what I imagine a fast food burger joint on a Friday night feels like!”
As I tried to enjoy the coffee and relax, I found the frenetic activity and loud voices of the staff to be totally distracting and annoying. As a result I left early and certainly did not buy a second cup of coffee.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the coffee, but I don’t go to places like Caffe Nero just for the coffee, it’s also the ambience the atmosphere. This branch had great coffee, the decor and furniture was nice, what let the place down were the hyerpactive staff. Training needs to be so much more than just about how to make coffee.