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Reopening your café during Covid – Part 3 - Ordering & Service

Reopening your café during Covid – Part 3

As coffee shops in the UK are reopening since 4th of July, Callum Parsons, an award-winning coffee enthusiast and founder of Fire & Flow Coffee Roasters, wrote a very interesting article with top tips on how to navigate these uncertain times and reopen your café safely.

On the final part of the series, Callum gives valuable advice on service flow, queueing, ordering and serving.


Can you mark a safe queuing system outside?

Make a clear and easy to follow queuing system, try your best to not block other shops, make life difficult for other pedestrians and of course try to keep some distance between the queue and any outside customers you may have.

If you want to keep takeaway customers outside of the shop we have seen wireless doorbells and a designated takeaway waiting area complete with a menu. Customers simply read the menu and when they’re ready they hit the doorbell and you can come out to take the order using contactless payment.

Can you develop a nice flow in and out of your shop or make some waiting areas?

If you’re lucky enough to have a large space think of how you can separate those dining in and those waiting for a takeaway. If you’re struggling, look at the system above utilising a wireless doorbell and outdoor space - it’s a really nifty trick!



Can you use apps to take orders?
Embracing modern technology is a surefire way to make life easier. With digital menus, seamless ordering and payment collecting tools it's a great way to reduce contact and make your customers feel safe. We don’t have any alliances with the following options but they come recommended - Presto, Yoello, Zonal and Tevalis.

Also, check with your current EPOS provider to see if they have any options that you can add on. These can be premium options but they will certainly streamline your whole business. Another benefit of this approach is that “mobile ordering has been proven to increase spend-per-head by 10-30%” (Kurve Mobile Ordering). This is certainly helpful in these times!
Should you look into taking table bookings and turnover times?
Can you control numbers in your coffee shop better with bookings and suggested turnover times? Not only to help keep customers flowing, but also allowing them to feel confident that they’re not going to be in a potentially crowded environment. It will also help you know what's coming up so that you can staff accordingly.
Can you take orders at tables to stop people walking around your shop?
This may well be announced as a mandatory practice for reopening, but either way, reducing people meandering around your coffee shop is certainly going to help customers and your team feel more comfortable. If you want to speed up ordering, just put a little number next to each menu item and jot that down when taking the order.

Can you simplify your menu to make service faster, more casual and easier for any potential customers who may want to take food home?

Can you add a pickup or local delivery service?
Can you offer the ability for customers to order hot food/drinks to takeaway and set an ETA of when it will be ready? A company that we have personally used as customers when buying from local shops, and comes well recommended is Slerp. This is a great streamlined system, but does take a percentage of the sale. Another idea is to look at offering local delivery services to reduce contact with customers.
Contactless payments
It goes without saying - it’s quick, easy and physically contact free. You can also take contactless payments through perspex or acrylic screens for that added safety. If the customer needs to use their pin, then just give it a courtesy wipe with sanitiser. Those extra steps will be remembered!

If you are able to, it may be an idea to only accept card payments so that your team members are not having to handle any cash. If you do so, provide signage so that this is clear to the customer.
Staff to add milk/sugar to coffees to keep it off of tables
Ask the customer if they need any extra sugar, milk etc. It’s just another measure to reduce contact and handling of items.
Do you have the wall space for a few large menus?
Stop table menus all together and just put that good old eyesight to the test!
Keep condiments/cutlery off tables
This is just another measure to keep contact and handling of items down. It may be an idea to look at individually wrapped sauces and condiments that your team could hand out if requested. If you serve food, you may want to bring out cutlery with the customer’s food order rather than leaving them on the table or allowing them to help themselves. Whilst not with the customer, keep the clean cutlery in a covered container behind the bar/counter area.
Reusable cups

You can still use reusable cups (with a contact-free process) to keep costs down on takeaway cups and maintain your eco-friendly values by doing the following:

  1. Have a dedicated space on the front bar where the customer can place their reusable cups
  2. Ask your customer to remove the lid and ask them to hold on to it
  3. Pour the espresso into a jug and steam the milk as you normally would
  4. If the customer has requested sugar, just pour the espresso over it so that it dissolves
  5. Pour the espresso into the customer's cup without touching the cup
  6. Pour the hot milk into the customer's cup again without touching it (accept that latte art is not going to happen)
  7. The customer can now pick up the cup and put the lid on themselves


Thanks again Callum, and make sure to check Fire & Flow Coffee Roasters website and coffee. You can also find the original article, here.


References and handy resources:
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