Stir Coffee House

Tea Inventory Tool

A spreadsheet based productivity tool


Stir’s Tea inventory system was an especially time-consuming task. 

For staff, it was often interrupted (sometimes taking hours). It was communicated to management on a photo of a post-it note, over text.  

The management at Stir typically oversaw all inventory and product ordering. This system relied on staff remembering to text management the photo, or for management to be physically in the cafe.

I designed a spreadsheet tool to allow for remote access, speed up data collection and data entry, and improve cross-team communication.  


The first consideration was staff don’t really use spreadsheet apps. 

I included simple instructions as part of the table, so any new staff could use the tool without management being there.

Second, I grouped like-teas together in sections, and colour coded them. Then, I created formulas which took into account tea storage containers, in order to calculate how much tea we had and wether an order should be placed.

How this worked: staff would record the weights of the teas on hand. The spreadsheet then calculates the combined weights for each type of tea, subtracting the weight of the storage container. Then the formula compares the calculated weight against pre-set pars, generating an order, or don’t order result. 

The last area added was the Difference column. This section showed the user, by how much the current inventory level was under or over par. Its purpose was to give the user more contextual information. Rather than rely on the formula to dictate when to order, the user would see how close they were to pars and could decide for themselves wether to order or not.

Take Away

I’m proud of this tool, as it worked really well. 

The time it took to complete the task was reduced down to ~10-15mins. 

The tool also encouraged a-synchronous work. Management didn’t need to be physically in the store to have all the information needed to place an order. Neither did the task have to be completed by 1 staff member, it could be passed along between staff members with progress being clearly recorded. 

The other take aways I noticed were,  1/ how similar spreadsheet formulas are to JavaScript & 2/ Knowing what I know now, I would fix up my design hierarchies. They’re not great. 

Try it for yourself

You can download and try the tools for yourself below