Restaurant Coffee Revolution... serve better coffee in 5 easy steps

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Every day that goes by marks another step closer to specialty coffee being even more accessible to the masses.  Not only do modern advances make specialty coffee more easy to access, but also in the age of information more and more people learn where their products come from and they care.   It's not just the millennials driving this shift, the entire US population has embraced the craft movement and the focus on quality... so the question is, "Why does more restaurant coffee still suck?"

I've been selling roasted coffee to restaurants and other cafes for a number of years now and have learned that the coffee usually still sucks because the old way is easy and familiar.  Most restaurants also falsely assume that working with a local roaster will be more expensive.  And above all else, most restaurant operators don't realize how easy it is to take the coffee program to the next level.  

Below are 5 ways to allow any restaurant operator to level up the coffee game.

#1) Ditch the burners

Nothing will destroy coffee faster that adding heat to the already brewed product.  The coffee actually will change chemically as it sits on the heat.  Furthermore, depending on how hot the burner is, water can slowly evaporate out of the coffee as it sits and you can end up with a more and more concentrated coffee the longer it sits.  I hear you though, people want their hot coffee.... here's an easy solution that takes no work...

Instead of brewing into a glass carafe and letting the coffee sit on a burner, simply brew into a thermal carafe and cap it.  Most thermal carafes can hold coffee piping hot for 3 hours, and pretty dang hot for upwards of 6-8hours.  If you really want to stretch it, preheat the thermal carafe by running some super hot water through it first.  No need to change your brewer set up or anything for the tip, just grab a few thermal carafes and transfer your coffee into them as soon as it's brewed.


#2) Add a grinder  

Coffee looses a ton of flavor once it's ground.  Using pre-ground coffee will always produce a sub-par product that lacks flavor and body.  The only way to get the absolute most out of your coffee is to grind the beans as close to brewing as possible.   Also, with a grinder you will now be able to control your grind size.  The coarseness/fineness of grind has a lot to do with extraction, and how the coffee tastes.  By having a grinder, you, and your coffee supplier will be able to have more control over flavor!


Adding a grinder to your restaurant coffee set up might seem like a daunting task.  I like to recommend the dual hopper, doser style grinders. Basically this means you can dump regular and decaf beans in the hoppers and simply slide your basket under the machine, press a button, and the grinder will automatically dose the exact amount of ground coffee that's been pre-programmed in.  So simply by adding this rad device next to the brewer in your set up, you can get a whole new level of coffee goodness with the press of a button!


#3) Do the Math

I can't tell you how many times I've sat with a restaurant operator who does not know how much their coffee costs per pound or per cup.  No wonder there's obvious sticker shock when I present coffees with wholesale pricing in the $10/lb range.  Many times managers are buying coffee in pre-ground pre-portioned bags in cases of 100 units... I've seen wild price differences in these from what breaks down to $8/lb all the way up to $17/lb!  So needless to say, it's a huge benefit to do the math, learn your per cup price, and ask yourself if you're getting the best value. 

Here's how to break down your per cup price:

- if you buy coffee by the pound:

price per pound ÷ cups of coffee from 1 pound of coffee

(to figure out cups per pound I like to assume 20 grams of roasted coffee yields one 10oz cup... so 453 grams in 1lb = 22.6 cups per pound)

example: $12/lb ÷ 22.6 = $.53 per cup

- if you buy coffee in cases of preground packs:

(ounces of individual units x amount of units in case) ÷  16oz = pounds of coffee in case ---> price of total case ÷ pounds of coffee in case = price per pound, then work this price through the first equation.

Some quick math to consider when shopping per pound price is to start with $10/lb and work a +/- equation.  So, a $10/lb coffee costs $.44, just add $.045 per cup for $1 more per pound... or subtract $.045 per cup for every $1 per pound lower then $10/lb


#4) Know your roaster

In an emerging culture of knowing where our food comes from, knowing where our coffee comes from is as equally important.   The first step in that for any restaurant is knowing their roaster.  Not only does the build transparency, but there's a number of other benefits in knowing who roasts your beans and working closely with them....

- Exclusive coffees / blends -  talking with your roaster about what you specifically want out of a coffee will often lead to a special blend of exclusive origin coffee that will pair exceptionally well with your brand or food.  Roasters love working with other culinary people to create something unique!

- Dialing in - generally speaking, specialty roasters know better then anyone how their coffee should be brewed.  Ask them to come in and set up your brewer/grinder to brew their coffee best

- Marketing - restaurant guests love to see a familiar name on the menu and will be much more likely to grab a cup of coffee with their dessert if you happen to be serving coffee from their favorite morning coffee stop.  


#5) Serve it like you mean it!

Business is all about the details.  Not only is there money to be made be giving a little thought to your restaurant coffee program, but adding a refreshing touch to your menu will speak volumes about your brand.  

Hopefully by reading the above you've seen how easy it is to take your coffee to the next level.  So why not feature your coffee in the same light as the rest of the items on your menu?  Coffee can easily become just a obligatory menu item, but with just a little effort on your part, it can add serious value for your customers and your bottom line!


Have more questions about serving better coffee in your restaurant or cafe?  Drop us an email here -



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