23/04/2009 - 00:00

Milk’d serves up some complementary therapy

23/04/2009 - 00:00


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Lorena Tati says it takes more than just good technique to make a good coffee. Adam Orlando reports on the service culture at Milk’d.

Milk’d serves up some complementary therapy
CONNECTION: Lorena Tati and business partner Lachlan Taylor aim to connect with their customers at Milk’d. Photo: Grant Currall

TO be a successful barista, you need a spoonful of personality, a lavish sprinkle of coffee-making skills, and a whole lot of the right attitude - or so says Lorena Tati, owner of Milk'd in North Perth.

"To be honest I'd say you don't have to be a coffee lover to run a cafe, for a few reasons. It's not just about the product, it's not just about the coffee sort, it really comes down to, I believe, the service," Ms Tati told Gusto.

"And above all else the service here, the compassion, the friendliness of the staff, the fact that most have been here for six to seven years, and the fact they have a history of professionalism in the industry, they have a respect and a passion for the industry that outstand anyone; that's the key.

"That has to be the biggest factor above all else.

"To be a good barista ... it's all about their attitude. They need to have a good relationship with the machine, but more than anything a good barista needs to have a good relationship with the customer.

"A coffee is just a coffee until you make it the way people want you to make it."

In her 17 years in the industry, during which time she has worked with Geoff Hayward, who has operated a number of sucessful hospitality venues around Perth, including the Cino to Go cafes, Ms Tati has developed an appreciation for coffee and what it takes to run a business such as Milk'd.

Her philosophy is to adopt an innovative approach to coffee culture, where employees are considered part of the family and customers form the 'Milk'd community'.

With 900 customers flowing through the door on any given Saturday, that's a pretty big community.

Ms Tati says that by choosing roads less travelled - that is, locations away from the regular cafe hubs - she aims to set a precedent and really engage with the community, rather than becoming another addition to the mass market.

"Location plays a big part in the community, yes, but [as for] my heritage in the industry, I've come out of Northbridge, Subiaco, Oxford Street, William Street in Northbridge, Beaufort Street, and making the decision to come here was really accentuating more of the suburban feel," Ms Tati says.

"I wanted to get away from the busy industrial noise and all the traffic; I wanted to start up something like in Melbourne, out in the suburbs.

"We've got a great community here, a mix of demographics of people that I think is the best in Perth. I think it's been working well so far, and now I've also got the one in Maylands (with business partner Lachlan Taylor)."

Ms Tati has rejected offers to launch a Milk'd franchise, instead maintaining a close relationship and affiliation with the business to ensure its philosophy is maintained.

She says simplicity is a core element of the business, as is quality, with the core product - coffee - complemented by a simple and sometimes customer-defined food menu.

Coffee is after all, a multi-million dollar business in Australia.

Australia imports virtually all of its coffee - about 45,000 tonnes of dry green bean - for total retail sales value of about $636 million each year.

More than 1 billion cups of coffees are consumed in cafes, restaurants and other outlets each year, an increase of about 65 per cent over the past 10 years.

With a large array of coffee types available today - flat white, espresso, long black, short black, latte, macchiato, cappuccino, mocha, and ristretto, just to name a few - Ms Tati believes a good coffee should be personalised to suit the customer.

She says while you can teach baristas to make a coffee, you can't teach them to have compassion and develop a rapport with customers.

"But you can't ask a barista to have compassion about their customers, you can't ask them to get to know their customers and have a love for them, they have to be able to accentuate their own personalities when dealing with customers."


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