How to check quality in a coffee shop chain

Feb 20, 2019

One often tends to believe that all coffee shop chains are the same, with the same style and the same quality, but this assumption is a rather common mistake.

Some coffee shops have been opened by internationally renowned baristas, former champions from the world of SCA competitions: we will have assurance that these stores will have a high quality, special attention to raw materials and equipment. Of course, these baristas, in order to be able to maintain the quality of these locations, will never open more than 2-3 shops.

The trend of mid-range chains, however, is to switch from semi-automatic machines to super-automatic ones: the skills required of the barista are therefore less by preferring solutions that can guarantee, even with a large turnover of the staff, the same quality, albeit of a lower scale. In the few chains that continue to use semi-automatic machines, the barista is overworked, having to follow the quality of the coffees and train new staff.

Thus, it is necessary to find intelligent solutions without foregoing the quality that professional coffee machines can offer. Here are some key points to follow.


We must not neglect training. Undergoing a good training guarantees results, quality and enthusiasm from all the staff involved. The best chains offer a course that goes from 3 to 10 days, but after just two weeks, you are certainly not ready to manage a successful coffeeshop! In South Korea I managed a café with 23 shops and more than 200 baristas: training was the key to our success. The whole training process consisted in a "star" rating system, 5 stars were up for grabs. The trainee earned his/her first star after 4 weeks of work, thanks to specialized trainings and team building meetings, courses on the origin of coffee and the functioning of the equipment. Of course, coffee tasting is also a very important part of this learning phase. The second star is earned after two months of supervision in the coffee shop and after simulations of the World Barista Championship. The remaining three stars will then be achieved in the course of the next six months, where the barista will be able to become a qualified barista and then trainer.


A key factor is to control the condition of the instruments. Every coffee shop has different conditions and equipment, the materials change, the instruments differ, some products may be new or even second hand. As we now known, there are five pillars that every single barista needs to constantly keep in mind: blend, grinding, machine, hand and maintenance. But I would add a sixth, preservation, essential in chains. Maintenance is a synonym of consistency, of happy customers who return to the coffeeshop to always enjoy the same cup of coffee.

This is precisely why instruments such as Dalla Corte’s GCS (Grinder control System) and the MCS (Milk Control System) can be of great help to chains, in order to standardize the quality and the movements of a barista. By connecting the grinder to the machine, you always get a perfect and constant extraction over time, while the automatic steam wand can be an "extra hand" or an important help for the new baristas.


Without the meticulous control of the instruments, the conditions and the baristas, we cannot say that we have a chain that aims to guarantee quality. In fact, having a good telemetry system, such as the OCS, is extremely important to control the parameters of every single machine. The latter is connected to the system via Internet and can send data and statistics to the owners or managers of the shop: a watchful eye that is always able to control quality.

Coffee is a living matter: it changes often and a lot. Roasted fresh, light, dark, the important thing is to know the properties of the bean, treat it in the correct way and always have good in mind that the result in cup is only the last part of a long process, which started from far away countries and on a sunny plantation.

How to check quality in a coffee shop chain