Caffe Mira

Caffe Mira is a cafe located in downtown Vancouver with two locations. They are known for their great customer service and aims to present themselves as a Canadian-Asian cafe. Staffing at Caffe Mira is made up of only Japanese and Korean working holiday visa holders.


UX Researcher, UI Designer, User Interviews, Surveys


Figma, Photoshop, Adobe Premiere


Virginia Chu, Clare Huang, Shaanti Banah


4 Months (January 2021 - April 2021)

Vancouver Cafe, International Workers

Caffe Mira staff are comprised of four Japanese working holiday staff, two Korean working holiday staff, and one Canadian staff. Caffe Mira only hires working holiday staff from Japan and Korea and since the owner is reluctant to hire locals from previous bad experiences, she ends up working as a full-time employee to cover shifts when needed. This ultimately takes time away from her focus of expanding Caffe Mira to five locations. She believes that this is due to understaffing issues.

Initial Research Findings

After initial primary and secondary research as well as conducting interviews with the current staff and management, three key insights were found:

  1. Not an Understaffing issue: Caffe Mira has six full-time workers and two part-time workers. However, half of the workers are currently still in training despite working for three to six months.
  2. Long Trainee Status: Caffe Mira provides initial training where trainees closely shadow a senior staff member for two full-day shifts. After this two-day training period, they have to be scheduled to work shifts with another senior staff for a prolonged period until they are fully comfortable to take shifts independently.
  3. English as a Language Barrier: Caffe Mira requires all staff to communicate with each other in English while on the floor. This means all training is done in English despite a vast majority of Caffe Mira staff carrying English as their second language.

Journey Maps and Personas

To understand our audience better, the team created a personas and the journey maps to visualize intervention opportunities as well as to see if the research aligned with the current situation.

Owner Journey Map + Persona

Trainee Journey Map + Persona

Primary Research Methods

Although many interviews and other forms of primary research methods were used, the two methods that gave the team key insights were through surveys and participatory workshops.

Conducting a Survey

In order to gather more data regarding the training experiences of baristas across the Lower Mainland, a Google Form survey was created and shared using Reddit and Instagram. From this survey 30 responses were collected and studied.

Through the survey, the team recognized that there is a difference in learning pace for each and every individual. The survey results show that duration of training does not correlate to higher comfort levels when exiting training. This led the project to focus on exploring ways to increase confidence levels for trainees by personalizing the training experience to allow learning at individual paces.

Participatory Workshop

Using the information gathered from interactions with Caffe Mira’s owner, staff member interviews, and the barista survey responses, a participatory workshop was designed. This included separate set of activities for the owner and staff and utilized more image-based activities and translations for the staff. The goal of this workshop was to evaluate how well the synthesized information aligned with the goals and thought processes of both employees and the owner.

Staff Activities
Owner Activities

Workshop Insights

  1. No Standard Training Practices: An employee is deemed finished training when they know how to do every barista and kitchen task, but there is no manual or training program for the employees and owner to follow to evaluate progress.
  2. Staff Desire Extra Resources: Employees have expressed a desire to be able to study recipes and store procedures during downtime on shift and off the clock to increase retention and expertise.
  3. Core Reason for Wanting Reference Material: Staff fresh out of training tend to forget and make mistakes therefore requiring the owner to double-check on their work.

Design Focus

With consideration of the synthesized insights, the team focused on the following problem statement and derived framing to solve this issue:

01 Problem Statement

In order for Caffe Mira’s trainees to exit training feeling fully confident in their abilities, we propose creating a digital learning management system where trainees and trainers can track the progress of the training, identify training needs, and meet the requirements to graduate from the trainee status.

02 Derived Framing

How might we help the trainee and the owner through the training process with a trackable and personalized experience, where both parties can feel confident when training is complete?

Final Solution

The team created a just-in-time learning management system as a tablet application to enhance the learning experience at Caffe Mira. It will help retain information and allow staff to leave training feeling prepared and confident. The application has two parts: a training component and a training tracking component. Initial training will be done through the app for the first two days and then hands-on training will be tracked through the app as well.

Why an iPad Application?

The team initially considered a mobile application, however as the owner requested that the recipes stay within the store, it was more appropriate to access the app through the store iPads. Also, in comparison to using phones within the stores, iPads were deemed more acceptable in the eyes of the cafe customers. A staff using their mobile phone during shift might seem inappropriate and unprofessional whereas iPads are more accepted as they are now replacing traditional POS systems.


Without understanding the underlying causes, the project would've found a shallow design problem and concluded with a shallow design solution. Therefore the process of researching and understanding the problem deeply was one of the most important stages in this project. This was also the first time designing an English digital application for people who spoke English as their second language. The importance of understanding our audience was another takeaway and the considerations that must be taken in order for the audience to use the solution effectively.

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