Let’s Talk About The Bus Tub

bus-tub-squiggle

The other day I popped my head in a little cafe in Portland, Oregon, where I live. I was greeted by two baristas, one working the register and the other the espresso machine. It was a slow afternoon, no big whoop, and there was nobody in line in front or behind me. I ordered a shot of espresso for a 2PM boost.

Upon receiving my espresso (and little back of sparkling water) I stood by the espresso machine, with the intention of drinking my shot at the bar. Upon finishing my shot (and little back of sparkling water) I handed them back across the counter, between the machine and register, and said “thank you so much.”

The barista working the register pointed behind me and said, “Actually, there’s a bus tub behind you, if you don’t mind.”

This caught me off guard. For years, I’ve been drinking espresso at the bar, and this had been my whole routine: Slug it down, hand my dishes right back over without contributing to the bus tub, and tip my hat a thank you and good day.

In that moment I smiled, picked back up the demitasse and sidecar glass, and walked them over to the bus tub, placing them carefully so as to not disturb its delicately balanced ceramic ecosystem. But internally I wondered, “Is this weird? This is weird. I feel weird.”

In America, it’s very uncommon to visit a cafe without a bus tub. It’s the final resting place for your dishes. One never leaves a dirty dish at a table, because this is rude, and the labor required for a human busser just isn’t in the cards for many just-staffed-enough small-business-type coffee places. To me, it always felt like handing the dishes to the person across from me—with some eye contact and a kind word—lessened the final load on the bus tub, and gave me a chance to thank them again for the experience.

I just want to be a maximally efficient polite customer and let everyone get on with their day—in the cafe, in life, in all things really. But maybe I’m messing up the work flow? Maybe what I intend to be a polite act is actually an unintentionally rude one? Maybe I should just put my dang dishes in the bus tub, even though the bus tub is over there, and we’re both right here at the espresso bar. Have I been doing it wrong this whole damn time?

I feel like there’s a roughly 50 / 50 chance I’m at fault here, although perhaps I’m just working through my own Pacific Northwest passive aggressive public niceness shit. Truly, who can say. But I’d sure love to hear from you.

Comments are open.

Jordan Michelman is a co-founder at Sprudge Media Network. 


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  1. Bill Caraker

    10 March

    When I go to a new cafe I look at it as an experience from the time I park my car to the moment I leave the shop. This is why I think having to bus my own table takes away from that experience. It really is not a big deal but when it comes to specialty coffee every detail matters.

    On the other hand cleaning up my own table also can make me feel like I am helping out the cafe and giving the baristas more time to do what they are really there for. Making delicious caffeinated beverages!

  2. DfromICR

    29 December

    I work at a small, independent coffe house in a small unincorporated town (Idyllwild, CA) – and we don’t use a bus tub. I think that if I brought this idea up to the owner, she would look at me like I was a moron. I’ve been to Bus Tub Shops, and – for the most part – I didn’t mind, much. But, it does add something to the thought in the bak of my mind: dirty. Gross. Ew. I don’t want to see other people’s dishes when they are done with their half-drunk latte and left over foam. Or the drinks with coffee, sugar packets, and stir sticks inside them. For me, I’m happy we don’t have a bus tub. Sure, we have to walk every dish back to the sink – but big whoop. It makes our shop look cleaner, and – as you stated – it gives us and the customer a chance for a final interaction. That small thank you could be what keeps people coming back. Just my thoughts.

    • Brian

      29 December

      Preach.

  3. Kurt Ogata

    23 October

    As a barista at Allegro Coffee Roasters in Berkeley, CA. Please accept my apologies for your recent experience. We also have a bus tub where most customers leave their cups and saucers.

    For myself, I’ve always felt that my experience with the customer didn’t end when I handed them their drink. The opportunity to engage and watch them enjoy the drink, to get feedback about the espresso and then say good bye seems to be a thing of the past, but when it happens I can say that I truly appreciate it.

  4. Adam

    22 October

    Nine times out of ten I gown my espresso at the bar and slide the demi back across with another thanks. I appreciate it when I’m on bar and folks do the same.

    • Adam

      22 October

      *down

      Although nine times out of ten I’m wearing a gown while I drink it…

  5. Stephen P

    21 October

    I absolutely hate the bus tub. I always feel like I am going to be the dude that causes the tower o’ glasses to fall over and break!

  6. Michael Butterworth

    21 October

    I’m embarrassed that in 2016 we’re still setting such a low bar for hospitality in specialty coffee that we (Americans) expect our customers to bus their own tables.

    And Jordan, here in the South we would never tell a customer “the bus tub is over there.”

    • Kathie

      21 October

      I agree so much. We have a long history with being rude, and customers expecting that in specialty shops. It needs to stop.

    • Andrew Valentine

      23 October

      I don’t necessarily agree with this being a hospitality issue. The way my cafe operates is with a single person on shift at a time (with the exception being weekends) and customers bussing their own tables is essential to our coffee service. While I would never tell the customer to bus their own tables the inclusion of the bus tub in the landscape of the cafe setting should be a hint enough. This large red plastic eyesore is usually found by our domestic customers while our International friends leave us with all kinds of trash goodies as well as the sugar bottle and the communal milk carafes at the table of their choosing.

  7. Ren Doughty

    21 October

    What a range of perspectives and attitudes!

    Proves that even on Sprudge you read the comments section at your own risk.

    Happy Friday, everybody. I love all y’all.

  8. Brittany

    21 October

    Workflow will vary cafe to cafe, but when I’m on the customer end of the bar I always try to gauge how busy the staff are before handing over my dishes. If the place is swamped and there’s a bus tub around I’ll politely avoid distracting the staff from their workflow and place my dishes there. Though I’m always impressed when a Barista catches me before I do even if they’re amidst a rush of customers – for they are the true detail-oriented. Bad A Baristas!

    • Jason Malcom

      21 October

      Same sentiment here. I notice this too and appreciate the attention to the customer.

    • Alex

      22 October

      I would completely agree with this sentiment. As a barista that experiences both very slow and extremely fast-paced moments, it doesn’t matter to me when things are slow. Whether the customer hands the ceramics back to me/leaves it on the counter/buses it themselves. However, when it’s busy and crowded, it’s nice when the customers know how to take care of themselves and doesn’t rely on the barista for their needs and not feel entitled.

  9. Lamai

    21 October

    I live and work in Australia. We don’t have bus tubs so my take will be a little different from others here.
    The convention here is to leave your dishes on the table and the staff clear it. When a well meaning person brings their dishes.and hands them over the counter it can really mess with your work flow. We scrape and empty liquids at strategic points. By the time it gets to our wash area it should have already been pre sorted and stacked for more efficient cleaning.

    Someone drinking an espresso at the bar will hand the empty over or slide it across (its a big second and third generation Italian area so it happens often enough). You have to suck it up, smile and say “thank.you so much” because you know it is well meant and we should be hospitable in hospitality BUT it is sucks balls to have to get out of the zone to clear the corpses of coffees in someone else’s time frame and manner.
    I hate it. Like a lot. I would never dream of going to a locksmith and reorganising their key blanks by colour by size whilst complimenting them on their key cutting.
    Feel free to see me as over sensitive but 20 years of resentment is stored in my soul for having to give public gratitude to someone for handing me poorly stacked dirty dishes or used cups filled with wedded up used napkins.
    And don’t get me started on people who ask for sugar AFTER you have made their coffee (and asked specifically about sugar)

    Okay rant over.

    • Ren Doughty

      21 October

      Great comment. Thank you.

    • Paul

      23 October

      Aussie too. (Customer). I used to hand over the cup, but noticed that folks prefer to collect in their own time. So I’ve stopped doing it.
      So fair enough. I hope OP doesn’t think he was rude though. Just trying to be helpful.

  10. Pami

    21 October

    This exact thing happened to me last week Jordan & I felt precisely like you did : )

  11. Darren Bunn

    21 October

    “I just want to be a maximally efficient polite customer and let everyone get on with their day”

    So you wrote about it on your blog? I absolutely deplore this type of outrage. I find more and more, most people in the coffee industry, who don’t work in cafes completely forget what it’s like to work behind a machine. Maybe the manager of the cafe had told them off earlier for not just using the tub. Maybe they weren’t in the mood to have to interact to a customer who wanted to pat themselves on the back for drinking an espresso.

    You’re a customer, it doesn’t matter if you can really appreciate the intricacies of a espresso, or if you can explain how important terroir is to the flavour of beans. None of this makes you better than another customer drinking a large latte with 6 sugars in it. Drink your coffee, do what the staff ask, stop whining.

    • Chris Fraser

      21 October

      “Maybe they weren’t in the mood to have to interact to a customer who wanted to pat themselves on the back for drinking an espresso.”

      “Drink your coffee, do what the staff ask, stop whining”

      The kind of attitude that will stop me from ever walking back into a cafe

    • tori

      21 October

      Wow. I don’t know that the service industry is for you pal. It is the service industry, you know that, right?

    • Daniel Ortiz

      23 October

      Darren… Who are you? This article is written from a place of being open and talking. The author meant well.

      Do you work in service industry? Who built your model? I would be so bummed to be served by you. Your attitude is why coffee is unapproachable. Chill out.

      • Darren Bunn

        26 October

        I like that you guys all avoided the valid points I made just to highlight the two inflammatory comments I made.

        This article is written by someone who’s word has a great amount of weight behind it, and is recognisable within the coffee industry. Sprudge is one of the big coffee news sites, and Jordan is a very recognisable face within the coffee industry. Yes, he doesn’t name the cafe directly, but I guarantee the manager will have known he came in, and by now will have read this.

        I know most of the baristas on here love what they do, and that’s great. I genuinely like anyone who loves what they do, and if you can do it with a smile and give someone perfect service all the time. Awesome! The thing is, and here’s the big secret, most people who work in cafes are just doing it to keep them going till they move on to what they really want to do. You can’t expect a bored eighteen year old who turns up to the cafe, works his shift, goes home and doesn’t think about coffee until he’s at the cafe again to go above and beyond what’s asked of him. He’s been told to put the cups in the tub. You want to be a “maximally efficient polite customer”, then put it in the tub like he asked.

  12. Maria

    20 October

    I always take my demitasse to the bus tub, if there is one, but I’ve been intercepted many times by baristas saying “let me take care of this for you”.

    If there is none, I try to leave it on the counter but out of the way where other customers get their drinks, so the baristas can get it when they have time.

    Just learned in one of the previous comments that the best practice would be to ask “where would you like me to leave this?” – unless the barista is busy and this would disrupt the workflow. Thinking of the times when I asked, the answer was always “let me take care of this for you”.

  13. Paulina Ruiz

    20 October

    I do the same thing! I do it to keep them from making a trip but mostly to give them one more thank you. I always praise the shot. “Wow that shot was tasty”. Dialing in can often be thankless. Being the barista on the other side and having a customer compliment my dial can be a reassuring boost that makes my shift.

    I’m sure that barista didn’t know you were doing that to be helpful. If they knew you were being genuine they would not have rejected your action.

  14. mykey

    20 October

    i think the bus tub is a delicate balance.. it keeps baristas hands clean, and allows them to continue working.. nobody wants to catch some herpes from a careless barista picking up a cup from a customer and getting back to work in a rush.. but at the same time.. the ecosystem you mentioned is correct. they smell.. they look bad. and they are not a sign of care for the environment where you are enjoying your drinks. . there needs to be a better solution..
    although laziness.. is no excuse on a part of the barista.. but cleanliness is appreciated.

    • joel

      21 October

      you know what herpes is right?

  15. Zach

    20 October

    If you are making drInks , you are “scrubbed in” . If you take the dish from the customer, you should wash your hands before returning to the food/beverage preparation area. Unless, you know health codes aren’t a thing where you live. Washing hands a large number of times daily can have side effects on the skin of some coffee professionals . In that sense it is not just about the ergonomics of work flow but also quality of the employees work experience.
    Other times hands should be washed: after touching hair, face, cellphone, money, trash can, broom, mop, regular phone, door knob, the ground, any dog that might wander in…basically all day so if a bus tub allows for a few less washes a day , it seems worth putting with the “gauche “aesthetic it represents.

    • Siobhan

      24 October

      The sentiment is perfect. Depending on cafe layout, handing over your cups over the counter can be either helpful or disruptive to workflow. I’ve worked in spaces where as a barista I would have to walk away from bar to get to the sink area where dishes were being processed, wash my hands from handling the dirty dish, and walk back to bar causing a huge disruption to service and flow. Best case scenario, ask, or return your cup to someone other than the “scrubbed in” Barista on bar, so they don’t have to deal with your dirty dish in the same area they they are prepping the next drink. If staff is short and space is limited, you’re disrupting the next customer who has to look at your dirty cup while picking up their perfect cappuccino. Not appetizing in the least.

  16. Bryan

    20 October

    Here is my take: You are 50/50 and in the particular context you seem to have been in the right. No, scratch that … you were 100% right, but I can offer up some reasoning behind a bus tub and why I like it and why I also make sure to be grateful when an imbiber leaves their dishe(s) with me.

    1) You were in a slow-paced (at the moment) cafe and therefore there shouldn’t be any dishes in the bus bin, let alone the need for a patron to place their dish in the bin. That seems lazy, rude and and uninvested.
    2) In a busy cafe there is lots going on, including paying attention to every customer who comes in – for the person running espresso, they are creating drinks, talking to customers and keeping track of numerous things at once. The espresso station workflow is often well thought out and there are numerous vessels doing numerous odd jobs. Depending on how the handoff station is set up, a dish left for the barista to clear confuses the workflow, confuses other customers waiting for drinks, crowds the handoff area, and adds an “immediate” task for the barista to handle – one that could otherwise wait until an appropriate moment. Thus, a bus bin placed a short distance from the handoff area, within the baristas view, is a good compromise to keep the flow of a cafe.
    3) **That said, in my opinion, one is never wrong to hand back their dish to the barista, especially if they feel this is the expedient thing to do. The barista is a big boy or girl and don’t need to wine about taking dishes. They ought to do their job, thank the customer, put it where they can deal with it at an appropriate place for their workflow, and allow this person to continue their custom. What does it really matter? Those dishes will come back to you to deal with later anyway… make sure the customer is NOT made to feel awkward … your cafe is a bit confusing anyway, so just be nice. Others will use the bin! So whay, who cares! ;)

  17. Nathanael

    20 October

    I’ve spent many an awkward moment looking around a cafe, trying desperately to find the bus tub before I stand up with my demitasse and spoon and wander around like a goof. In the most harrowing of these moments, I can’t find a tub, and I awkwardly hand the dishes to a staff person.

    All of these horrors could have been avoided with a simple statement as I picked up my drink: “Hey guy, when you’re done with that lovely ‘spro, bring your dirties up here and I’ll take care of ’em!”

    Alternatively, “Hey, buddy. Leave your dishes at your table when you’re done. Only one of us is getting paid to clear your table, and it’s not you.”

  18. Kathie

    20 October

    People can make coffee at home, but at home it’s less relaxing and they have to do their dishes at home. Customers come in to the cafe to be waited on. If they want to put their dishes in the bus bin, wonderful, if they leave them on their tables, great, if they return them at the counter, that should be returned with a “thanks so much, hope you enjoyed it. Have a nice day.” It’s a great opportunity to extend what was hopefully an already great customer service interaction. If someone asks where the bus is, offer to take their dishes or direct them towards the bin and thank them for asking. Customers should not be made to feel stupid, inconvenient, or left asking themselves if that was a weird interaction and if it’s their fault.

    The era of the snobby barista needs to be over, and they need to take their bus bin pointing fingers with them.

  19. Andy

    20 October

    Depends on what sort of brand the shop desires to be, but if it’s upscale and thoughtful enough to serve sparkling water with its espresso, than the proprietors should think to hide the bus tubs away from their customer’s line of sight. Why? Because bus tubs are gauche, that’s why.

  20. Tess weaver

    20 October

    I agree that it takes just as long to point someone in the direction of the bus tub than to just take their dish. It’s lazy and barista oriented–not customer oriented. But in the end requires more work and usually more broken dishes.
    Most of these things baristas do are actually lessening customer interaction, and that’s a shame.

  21. Jeffrey Thiele

    20 October

    I work at a small shop in Michigan and we have two bus bins – one accessible to the customers, and one accessible to the barista – the barista-accessible bin is right under the counter where a lot of customers will leave their drinks with a word of thanks, so the barista can still take the dishes but not have a long way to walk with them before they can get back to the bar.

    I see this as kind of a compromised solution, because it still allows for the polite act of giving thanks to the barista and making more of a customer connection than the awkward act of setting dishes in a dirty bus bin. I think not having a bus bin open to the customer while keeping one close by barista-side, as it encourages more barista-customer interaction. I’ve seen, also, that customers are pleasantly surprised when they hear “No we don’t have a bus bin but I can surely take your dishes for you!” – always leaves a smile on their face.

    My two cents!

  22. Aubrey

    20 October

    I can see both sides of this. As a barista, I prefer customers putting their dishes in the dish tub. However, if people walk up to the counter, I take it if I can just to be nice and not make the customer feel awkward.

    The reason the bus tub is preferable (specifically in one of my shops) is because when customers hand me dirty dishes, I don’t have anywhere to put them. If it’s busy or I’m the only one manning the bar I can’t walk to the back right away. Dirty dishes can’t pile up in case a health inspector walks in. Most of the time I end up walking over to the bus tub anyway.
    Another reason the tub is more convenient is then we can take all the dishes at once instead of a lot of mini trips.

    From a customer service perspective, I understand the weird vibe and I would have taken the cups. If you were a regular customer though, I’d probably point out the tub to “train” you. Probably not for an espresso though…

  23. major

    20 October

    Agreed, it is weird…the tubs are gross…but seemingly necessary. Almost always empty….a best approach, as sometime there simply is not a hospitable moment for the team to take the dishes away or take them from the kind guest who like you is turning the service around and wants to share thanks. I am disappointed if the tub is overflowing and I would be more so if I was instructed to the bus tub as you described.

  24. Jonathan Jarrow

    20 October

    Do away with bus tubs. They are dirty, gross, and encourage poor service from lazy baristi.

  25. Adam Bunnell

    20 October

    That barista shouldn’t be a jerk. Took more energy to ask you to put it in the tub than to just take the dish and say thank you. Guess you were lucky to get coffee from them. Clearly a training/attitude issue.

  26. BPDubs

    20 October

    bus tubs are gross

  27. Trevor

    20 October

    The bus tub’s role in a specialty shop is certainly a complicated one. If you expect your patrons to take their drinks in ceramic or glass, to stay and enjoy them within your space, and to enjoy the atmosphere and have an experience, then the service must be part of that experience—a reciprocal part of the equation. In my dream cafe, there would be no bus tubs, and each item would be taken to the table. Patrons deserve to feel free of as many obligations as possible.
    Unfortunately, few shops have the space or the capital to make this experience a reality, as mentioned in the story. In the cafe where I work, we take as many drinks to tables as possible, and will often smile and accept dishes brought to the counter. However, in the middle of a rush, our small space fills in such a way that neither delivering drinks nor bussing dishes are feasible. When in the middle of a Sunday morning rush, a stack of dirty dishes left at your sanitary serving window can cause a hold-up in service that’s easily avoided by using a bus-tub. The key on the barista’s end is to ask the customer to bus their dishes in an amicable way. It tickled me to see the phrase “if you don’t mind,” in the article—my shop decided those particular words can make or break how your request to the customer will play.
    One final tangent: if one expects to receive full service, where the drinks are brought out and tables bussed, should the method of payment change, too? While my cafe sees a relatively generous clientele, our tip percentage rarely breaks 20%. I imagine patrons must increase their tips to make a full-service cafe feasible, as to balance out the increased labor necessary to realize this model.

  28. Jackson O'Brien

    20 October

    Sounds like your experience betrays a lack of sympathy, which I feel is the one truly teachable bit of customer service. If you had asked “where should I put these?” and the barista had directed you to the bus bin, that would have been fine, that’s two humans exchanging information in a helpful way. The fact is that you were giving the demi / saucer / to the barista rather than asking is you saying nonverbally “my expectation is this is how this situation operates. I have drunk my coffee and the proper thing to do is to hand my dishes back to you” and no matter how politely they correct you, you’re gonna feel a little silly because you thought you knew what to do and now you suddenly don’t. Even if it’s an inconvenience IMO the barista should do their damndest to accommodate you. And yes, they might have to walk all the way back to the dish room and wash their hands after, but unless you’re 12 drinks deep in a rush (which I don’t imagine happens much at 2:00 PM) you probably got time to do it. And besides, if it happens so often that it’s becoming a pain, it’s not too hard to develop a system for it. Grab the dishes with a clean towel and put them in a bus bin that lives behind the counter by the bar, BOOM.

  29. Colin Frew

    20 October

    Bus tubs encourage the idea that the barista’s job is over once the drink is in the customers hand. This helps lead to a cafe space that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. In the cafe where I work, we have a bus tub, but I try to get out to check for empty cups and bus them. This provides a regular opportunity to tidy up the tables and chairs as well as oversee that customers are enjoying their experience. When you take a customers used dishes, it provides an opportunity to ensure they liked the coffee. Although not always possible in a busy morning rush, that final point of contact should be engaged when possible.

    • Dustin Fleming

      20 October

      What would you say to the packed cocktail bar that does 2-3 times the amount of covers you do? You don’t set your high ball in a plastic bin and then order another drink, do ya? The customer deserves to not have to work at all, when they are done with their drink, they should have the freedom without pressure to get up and walk away. They paid you for YOUR service. <3

      • Michael

        20 October

        First, the expectation in a coffee bar is fast fast fast. When someone walks into a busy cocktail bar, they will stand and wait for their drinks for 10-15 minutes and just think “boy its busy tonight.” You wait 15 minutes in a coffee bar and you’re on Yelp decrying your horrible experience and demanding a refund. There is also no expectation in a cocktail bar that you will be served in the order in which you arrive. In a coffee bar, if the guy who walked in directly behind you gets his beverage first, your’e on Yelp again. All this is to say that no, bar patrons generally do not bus their highballs, but the bar staff is also more free to walk the room and bus or for the bartender to grab the drink on the bar directly in front of him, all of which still end up in a plastic bus bin.

        Second, you are not paying for service, you are paying for product. In the day of shops trying to get payroll down to 15% or less, baristas are often overworked and understaffed. Bussing procedures are in place to best suit the needs of each individual cafe. It is a result of crafting the end product, not of waiting on you.

        Third, you can absolutely stand up and walk away. No one is forcing you to bus your dishes. It’s a clear sign you’ve never worked in the food industry and know that the barista team will make fun of you relentlessly and if your’e a regular… well… best of luck with that.

      • Dustin Fleming

        20 October

        Michael,

        I absolutely love your enthusiasm and passion although it is a bit misdirected. I will try to address your points because you did make some great ones!

        First, clearly a cocktail bar is different from a coffee shop, I know that but you must admit that the coffee industry tries to emulate a lot of what is sees from the cocktail scene(service/hospitality) and the wine industry(farming/production). This is seen at most specialty shops through the way they dress, the bar/seating layout, menu layout, rotating beverages etc. Bars typically operate at an even lower labor margin which i bring to your next point.

        Second, coffee shops SHOULD be operating at a 20-30% like most hospitality places. Coffee shops also don’t exists solely for the end product, they exist for the atmosphere, service and product. This is exemplified through the success of all the “bad” shops out there that provide a comfortable seating arrangement and wifi.

        Third, hey man, I’ve worked in the food industry since i was 15(now 24) and have had plenty of time to observe and come to a conclusion. I’ve worked at shops for 3 years and am now in a corporate setting and my company does not use bus bins. It does take more work for the employees to clean tables which is why we pay our employees well.

        I hope you can see things from my perspective cause I’ve been there in the weeds with you and I am telling you the most successful companies in this industry focus on the customer experience first then the beverage, it just so happens that both are exceptional for companies like CC, Intelli, etc.

  30. Flex

    20 October

    I never bus my dish. The way old Flex sees it, it’s optional. What are they gonna do? 86 Flex? Last I checked, Flex wasn’t the one getting paid to keep the cafe clean. You want me to take out the mop and spot check my table, too? This is what’s wrong with America. #MAGA

    Just one man’s opinion.

  31. c.a.

    20 October

    I work in a restaurant, and your experience sounds like it may be due to the California food safety rules. Someone making food and drink should have clean hands. Touching used dishes makes hands dirty, so a barista would be required to wash their hands before making any new food/drink.

    It’s interesting that the cashier is the one that suggested using the bus tub, when the cashier touches money and credit cards, which would require them to wash their hands before they served any food or drink. Perhaps they were just trying to keep things as clean/efficient as possible, both then and in the future, by alerting customers to the presence of the bus tub.

    If you were my only customer at that moment, I’d happily accept your used dishes, and then just wash my hands as required.

  32. Chris

    20 October

    I think there isn’t a standard and no way is particularly wrong, but some do feel weird to the customer. Especially, when you are right there and they won’t accept a dish from you. I feel like that is just bad customer service.

    In my coffee shop we don’t have bus tubs for people, I feel like they are awkward, weird, and unstable…with a bunch of glass and ceramic in them. We either encourage them to leave them at the table, so we can come bus the table for them, or bring them up to us. This allows for even more interaction with the customer, and for us to serve them. Rather then expect them to figure out where to put their dishes, and try not to break them as they go in the bus tub.

    Although, there is a part of me that feel like this is weird too, because some people have no idea what to do with their dish. Do I leave it, do I bring it up, do I bus it myself. So I don’t know, I’d say lets all just work to focus on good customer service, and not expect the customer to know how we do things.

  33. Ryan Moser

    20 October

    I can see both sides. As a barista who often mans the cafe by himself, I usually defer customers to the bus tub (it’s almost like another employee who carry some of the weight of the chore list), so that I can collect all the dishes at once. Sometimes I don’t have warm water and soap in the sink yet, another customer is ready to order, or even the espresso machine needs attending to. Regardless of the reason, usually dishes are not the first priority. If all things do line up, however, a barista ought to be more than happy to take a glass or two from over the bar while intentionally engaging the customer who is resolving their cafe experience.

    Hope I could bring some perspective!

    P.S. Our regards from Idego Coffee in Blacksburg, Va!!

  34. joel

    20 October

    Maybe a bigger question is why coffee bars are modeled after fast food restaurants. and why there is an increasing push at sit down restaurants to order at the bar, bus their own dishes, get in line for another drink, and also tip well.

    The point of customer service is to cater to the customer- not the other way around. if this was my coffee shop i would want you to tell me about it (its not :) because we do not have a bus tub).

    One of the most famous coffee shop chains in Portland history had a policy to not “talk back” to the customer. wish we still had this as a training policy. Not that my own shop is perfect, but as an owner i think the customer should never be made to feel bad, or to be corrected.

    geez.

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