Coffee: The Icing On Diners' Cake
A good coffee program can be the icing on the cake of a restaurant guest’s entire dining experience.
“In your restaurant you’re building a very specific experience and everything you’re representing to your guests should be part of that experience,” says Teresa von Fuchs, coffee and espresso consultant for New York roaster, Dallis Bros. Coffee.
“Good coffee can highlight your dessert program and can add the finishing touches to a meal.”
A restaurant’s coffee program, she explains, is more than that to the operator, though: Coffee can have a really nice margin, she says. “It’s a really good check builder even on lunch—it can be as good as, or better than, drinks like soda.”
Coffee in itself doesn’t just build checks, she adds, but it can often encourage diners to order dessert. “So they stay a little longer but it’s a profitable use of your table.”
Von Fuchs offers her tips for running a stellar coffee program:
- Start with quality beans. “Your coffee program is only ever going to be as good as the beans you start with,” she says. You don’t have to buy the most expensive or hardest to find by coffees, “but do some homework about what you're buying.”
- Remember that coffee can be a delicate product. “It starts as a fruit, and should be treated like other perishable goods,” von Fuchs reminds.
- Keep your coffee and espresso equipment clean. “That brew basket or portafilter or even thermos that looks 'coffee stained,' isn't stained,” she says, “it's coated with oils and proteins that can go rancid, and fresh brewed coffee can leach those old layers right into that cup you're about to serve.” Von Fuchs advises buying specialized coffee equipment cleaning products, which are not expensive, she says, but they work.
- Use clean water since coffee is 98 percent water. “If you won't drink water straight from your taps, don't put it in your coffee equipment,” von Fuchs says. “Water filtration systems are an easy way to extend the life of your equipment and improve the quality of your coffee.”
- Understand the basic principles of brewing coffee and espresso. “A simple primer about the factors that affect the process of extraction will allow you to master what can seem like a mystery,” she says. Ideal coffee to water ratios, grind size, water temperature, brew time all affect how the final cup tastes and most are fairly simple to control when you understand how your equipment works.
- Create a culture of quality and ensure your staff prepares every drink with care.
- Work with a roasting partner you trust. “ A good coffee roasting partner, should be a partner in your coffee program, and an expert in that part of your business, von Fuchs explains. “A good roasting partner should be able to provide good advice on everything from appropriate equipment to staff training.”
- Keep your coffee menu simple to make it easy for your guests. This can either be built into the dessert menu or standalone.
By Amanda Baltazar