To all the coffee lovers who can’t stand wasting time and opportunities.
I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a student at the university. It took me 15 years to find the most optimal way of making coffee at home. If you think that’s an insanely long time, ask yourself how often you’ve made a significant change in your company processes to optimize them. Read more to learn why we should reevaluate our business and personal practices more often.
Outsourcing to the Booth
My long love coffee story began with the realization that I hated espresso. It was strong, short, hot, and bitter. There was no way to make coffee in my dormitory room, so I had to buy it outside. There was an old and gross vending machine at work, but luckily there was an equally awful-looking booth in front of the office where a lovely lady made excellent cappuccino. That was my coffee in a transparent plastic cup twice a day.
The Romantic Cezve
Then I graduated, got an apartment with a regular kitchen, and started making my large coffee at home. I had the most giant coffee mug filled with coffee and cold full-fat milk. This became my favorite type of coffee for a while.
However, there was one significant problem in the making process that I didn’t solve until recently. I always forgot about the coffee, and it was always boiling all over the stoves and the kitchen. Almost every other day for many years.
For those of you who drink coffee, I used to make it in a cezve. I wait for the water to get hot, not yet boiling – a trick from my roommate, add two tablespoons of coffee powder, and I sit next to it, waiting to boil. I immediately move the cezve from the stove as soon as it rises because it is all over my kitchen and hands the next moment. It dries instantly on the stove, is difficult to wash, and my whole apartment smells like overbaked coffee for a while.
My father taught me another trick: keep moving the cezve on and away from the stove as the coffee rises and falls, turn off the stove – an electric one – and leave the cezve quietly broiling until the stove gets cold and the coffee in the pot stops bubbling. This coffee-making process builds a very mild yet intense and aromatic taste. Everything we need from a coffee.
Still, most of the mornings, I was in a hurry and always forgot about the coffee while doing my makeup, for example. It’s not fun when you’re already late for work.
Rediscovering the Moka Pot
Then one day, I found a new shop for coffee accessories. Several small colorful, elegant Bialetti Moka Pots were on the shop window. Fun fact, these Italian coffee makers are known as Cubans in Bulgaria.
Bialetti’s invention is genius. It was almost impossible to spill because the pot made a bubbling sound when there was no more water in the container and the coffee was ready. So you hear it.
Except when you’re in a remote daily standup with your headset on. You could see the pot from your desk, but you still forget about it, and your bright yellow Moka pot turns black, together with the stove.
Nevertheless, I’ve continued making coffee that way for a year after that incident. It was still the safest and the fastest way. As the time passed, though, my Moka pot got spoiled. Its cover handle broke and got a bit crooked by the heat. I was thinking about replacing it.
On top of that, we moved, went into a month of reconstruction, and I suddenly had even less time to make coffee.
Defining the Requirements
I needed another option, and I was ready for an espresso machine. Still pretty skeptical, I started browsing the online stores. There was a huge chance that I paid a lot and didn’t like the coffee, so I would not buy anything on the high end. I didn’t want a bean-to-coffee machine because I hate the noise of grinding, and I would never go for the pod version.
Must admit design mattered a lot. I needed a compact and a good-looking one. Coffee is the first thing I do in the morning. I’m so sleepy that I’m hardly capable of making the coffee before having the first coffee. I wanted it to be pretty and reliable.
What Does it Take to Get You Started?
So I made my choice but was a bit afraid of ordering the thing online. I wanted to see what it looked like in person because I also didn’t have much space. I continued making my coffee in an older pot at the new place. It was broken and so difficult to open, and the coffee was terrible, but I still hadn’t found the time to go to a shop. Then one Saturday evening, I was utterly exhausted by all the cleaning and repainting all day – when I dropped my phone on the ceramic floor.
It was during a very communication-intensive period. I couldn’t afford to stay without the phone, even for a day.
On Sunday, there was only one open repair shop in one of the malls.
I walked in and asked if they had seen anything like that damage. “Sure”, the guy said. “We can fix it for that price.”
The price was one-third of the new phone, and they promised to get it done by Thursday. So I gave it to them.
The Importance of Pumping it Up
It was a mall, so there was an electronic appliances store there. Happy that I’ve saved 60% of the price for a new phone, I went to see the coffee machines, almost ready to buy one.
There was an outdated De’Longhi manual espresso pump model at 30% off the price. Looked good, colored blue, not the biggest one, big container, high bar pump, which is essential for a pump machine. However, next to it was a beautiful new model. Kitchen jewelry. More than twice the price.
I was still in doubt when a guy from the store, which I hope was promoted, came to me. We all know how it works. Which one do you think he sold to me? The new one? No. He said he had the old one himself, and it made better coffee than the new one. Talked about blends for a while, and I got him to package it.
My morning coffee ritual now – I fill the water container and turn on the machine to start heating the water. I wash the portafilter and fill it with grounded coffee. I put a mug of milk in the microwave for 1:40min. The water is now ready, so I switch the machine to make the coffee. For ~20 seconds, my coffee is prepared, I add sugar, stir it, and now the milk is ready. Pour it over the coffee, and I have what I need for 3 minutes every morning. No more coffee all over my kitchen. Best taste ever. Clean and foamy. It’s so good that I often have it strong, short, hot, and bitter now.
Reevaluate Your Processes More Often
Why did it take me 15 years to come up with this solution? Why did I have to wait for my phone to break to get the machine after browsing for months?
Well, because habits are difficult and scary to disrupt. Even if they are not good for you. Even if they slow you down rather than help you achieve more. They are your comfort zone, and over time you get so used to them that you can’t imagine the effort to change.
If you don’t constantly and continuously reevaluate your processes’ effectiveness and efficiency, you’re inevitably going to turn risks into facts and lose valuable opportunities.
You need someone to help you make the step, or an event will get you out of the lethargy.
You can’t afford to let that event happen in terms of business. A disruptive event is too expensive, and the risk for your company is too high. You can lose it all if you’re waiting for this event while you’re entirely aware something needs to change. You’ll continue to spill over poor quality and be constantly late, and your customers will continue to receive mediocre service.
Instead, revise your processes regularly and often. Reach someone with an unbiased eye to show you the alternatives and find the best option for your needs.
It costs much less to change a lousy practice than to keep doing it.
Postponing improvements makes it even more challenging to achieve them. The sooner you start, the greater the positive impact for your business.
If you’re ready to improve your processes, start delivering higher quality with the optimal tools and practices for your unique business context, and stop wasting your time, book a call today, and I’ll show you what you should change first.