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Unsung Heroes of the Espresso Industry

I’ve come to realize that the life of a technician is a lot different than what, surprisingly, many in the espresso industry realize. Coffee for the most part is on a strict schedule.  As you probably already know, the rate of coffee being served accelerates during certain times of the day. Think about when you enjoy a cup of coffee. It can run from early morning, maybe a cup at lunch and then another in the mid-afternoon. For a technician, these times are considered black-out periods; a time most espresso businesses prefer that you do not show up to service their equipment. For many dedicated service technicians, extended hours are required to accommodate the majority of their customers. Technicians must be available early morning for emergency service but then be willing to work after hours to accommodate customers who prefer not to receive service during operating hours. This is the life of a technician but it is also the life they share with their children, families, and friends.

When my service phone starts to ring at 5 am, it sounds off in the room I share with my wife. I don’t usually answer. I’ll wait to see if the caller leaves a message. I need this time for my brain to kick in. Sadly, I have been known to drift back to sleep. My wife lays there. She never goes back to sleep. She will wait and if she hears rhythm in my breathing that tells her I’ve fallen back to sleep, POW, she smacks my arm and then yells louder than I think she needs to, “wake up!” Early mornings is not the only demand on a technician. Once, I went eight years in a row without sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Every year a service call came in for the most detrimental of reasons, product inconsistency or equipment failure. The reality is that serious espresso bars purchase equipment from service companies, for the times when they know they will seriously need a technician and those times come for every business no matter how well they maintain their equipment.  It is not just Thanksgiving I’ve missed. It has been school plays, doctor’s appointment, homework duty; the list goes on and on. My wife is a very understanding person, so it is not like it has caused any problems with our marriage, but the demand for quality responsive service work is not something that happens on rare occasions. It is a daily responsibility for espresso repair technicians and it can have detrimental effects on their personal life.

Coffee may seem like an insignificant industry and certainly not enough to warrant, for the most part, anything beyond a 9 to 5 work day; but if you think about it, we rely on coffee to always be there. After church service in the foyer, while waiting in an emergency room or late-night traveling to arrive on time for a family gathering or holiday, coffee is never just for breakfast. During this season of giving, if an espresso service technician has ever been there for you and your customers, consider sending a special message through them to their loved ones at home to let them know your appreciation. They really are the unsung heroes of the espresso service industry. To my fellow service technicians, it is an honor to work with you and I praise you and your family’s commitment and dedication to your customers and to the espresso industry.

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