Expectations high in the on-trade

Licensees could lose out if their coffee offer isn’t up to scratch

EXPECTATIONS are higher than ever regarding the quality of coffee available in pubs and bars, an equipment supplier has warned.

When starting out you need to consider the type of equipment you need says caffeine ltd

Justin Stockwell of Caffeine Ltd has insisted that, with the average consumer more knowledgeable about different styles and blends of coffee, it’s become more important that customers are able to enjoy a decent cup of coffee in a pub or bar.

“There is a greater demand for a more diverse range of flavours, from specialist coffees to iced and flavoured coffee drinks,” said Stockwell.

“They know exactly what good coffee should taste like, so it’s up to venues to supply this or risk being marked down for their poor service and losing their customers to the high street.”

Fortunately, providing a quality coffee offer is easier than it used to be, thanks to modern technology.
Stockwell said that contemporary ‘bean-to-cup’ coffee machines are able to offer “close to barista quality using relatively unskilled staff”.

“As the technology continues to develop, it’s getting easier for operators to offer a more complex coffee menu,” said Stockwell.

“The more advanced bean-to-cup espresso machines are multifunctional, so they can offer dozens of different drink variations at the touch of a button.

“What’s more, by ensuring a careful balance of ingredients – coffee, milk, cocoa, syrup and so forth – these machines give operators the freedom to create speciality beverages, which, once developed, can be easily reproduced with consistent quality.”

While staff don’t necessarily need to be experts in order to use this new generation of machines, it does pay to provide a basic level of staff training on how to maintain the equipment, said Stockwell. A smaller investment in training could help to avoid the larger cost of replacing damaged equipment.

“The most important training is to ensure the user knows how to clean and maintain the machine – the vast majority of breakdowns occur through poor maintenance,” he said.

“Despite the ease of use of modern espresso machines, obviously it’s better to have staff confident about the equipment they use, and how to get the best out of it and the ingredients it uses. This will make it easier for them to provide great service and a great product.”

This was supported by Dave Law, co-founder of Edinburgh coffee bar Brew Lab, who described staff training as a “vital” aspect of the venue’s offer.

And Law said it’s not essential for outlets to offer customers a huge variety of blends, as long as they’re offering quality.
“We feel it’s more important to focus on quality, rather than hitting every base,” said Law.

“By consciously not offering a particularly large range, we can be a bit more precise. We do offer an alternative to espresso, eg. filter coffee, but we keep the beans we offer to a select few, and these rotate based on what we like at the time.”

“Restaurants are also going towards coffee pod machines and Nespresso style pods, sourced from specialty stockists, providing customers with a consistently good coffee, without worrying about the potential variables involved in its production. (Brew Lab)