Dear Pano Christou,
I am writing to you as someone who has spent a while working in the food and drink industry. I have done many a busy shift making the types of drinks that you sell at Pret, and I don’t think that your staff are given adequate training, resulting in very lacklustre hot drink products.
On every occasion over the years when I have ventured into Pret, the hot drinks have been so lacking in flavour, skill and care that I think it would be more worth your while to simply sell sandwiches. The sandwiches, by the way, are excellent. The only reason I can think of for such a difference in the quality of the food and drink items, is the fact that the drinks are the only menu items made on-site.
Therefore the lack of craft in your hot drinks service is indicative to me of the fact that you don’t seem to actually train staff how to make the things they are supposed to make. You also operate large outlets with not enough people on shift at once, so that no member of staff is able to spend the amount of time and attention that it would take to actually make a nice drink. Most of the drinks that I have bought from your outlets have been severely burned, to the point where your matcha lattes do not really resemble the flavour of matcha at all. As someone who has made many of these, they take time and skill to do well, and your employees are clearly not taught it. I have never seen a single matcha bowl in one of your outlets, let alone a whisk. Now of course, I can simply not buy your drinks, which is what I in fact elect to do. But your attitude to your products tells me a lot about your company and the way your staff are treated. Not only do I want to enjoy a well-made latte if I am charged nigh on £4 for it, but I also want the person who makes it to be treated with respect, allowed the time they need to perform their tasks, and be taught the actual skills they need to do their job.
You are making enough turnover and have enough of a monopoly in London that you quite simply are able to make proper hot drinks and treat your staff with the respect they deserve. Employ enough people on shift at one time that staff can actually spend time doing their job and communicating with customers. Train people on the craft of being a barista, so that at least they are spending their time in your outlets garnering skills that could later get them more lucrative employment, instead of wasting their time by having them routinely burn everything in between giving out napkins.
While this all might sound petty, it is frustrating that your chain takes so much business from smaller food and drink businesses that are actually putting a lot of effort into their hot drink offerings. It is particularly notable to me in light of your pushing of the hot drinks subscription, because this indicates that this part of the menu is actually something you focus on — why, given this focus, can the quality not be improved? I realise that Britain doesn’t have the extensive focus on coffee the way that many other European countries do, but surely we can do a bit better than everyone drinking matching burnt cappuccinos on their way to work. I would love it if Pret could institute a proper barista training scheme, and the subscription service looked like a worthwhile deal.