Understanding Process & Workflow Through the Lens of Coffee Making

Chris Hendrix

By Chris Hendrix
Project Manager

Understanding Process & Workflow Through the Lens of Coffee Making

Coffee Time

Candy: “Hey Marsha. Good morning! Would you mind making some coffee for our meeting? Everything you need is in the office kitchen.”

Marsha: “Sure, no problem Candy! I’ll get right on it.”

4 hours later

Candy: “Marsha, we just started our meeting, but the coffee isn’t hot, nor ready.”

Marsha: “I’m sorry Candy! I thought you meant tomorrow’s meeting. I started a cold brew and it won’t be ready until tomorrow morning.”

Process vs. Workflow

It seems like Candy and Marsha had different ideas about outcome, resulting in Marsha following a different process than what Candy expected.

That’s a common problem.

Processes can often be very similar in nature, but depending on how they are implemented, the results can be drastically different! It is important to outline, document, and communicate workflows to better understand decision points, specifics, and determine how a process will be implemented.

Below are processes to brew coffee, followed by a workflow showing the different outcomes that can be achieved by understanding differences in implementation.


Cold Brew Process Hot Brew Process
1. get coffee grounds 1. get coffee grounds
2. put coffee grounds in pot 2. put coffee grounds in pot
3. add water to pot 3. add water to pot
4. wait for brew to complete 4. wait for brew to complete
5. enjoy wonderful coffee 5. enjoy wonderful coffee


Document & Communicate

Document and communicate your processes and workflows. Helping a Team and Client understand the tasks required to achieve a goal is only the first step. Once there is discussion and alignment on the workflow to implement for an agreed upon outcome, the path to success can begin. When everyone starts a project or scope of work with the same expected results, ambiguous misunderstandings are mitigated, controlled, and ultimately help the Team to reinforce the workflow.

The Last Brew

Now that we know the process & workflow and have engaged our Team through documentation & communication, it is time to celebrate our preparedness.

Candy: “Thank you so much for helping me prepare for that meeting Marsha! Would you like to grab a brew?”

Marsha: “If by brew, you mean a beer, then I have some options we can discuss: IPA, Lager, Stout, Pilsner…..”