Restaurant Coffee Shouldn’t Suck

The truth is, customers want to spend their money on quality coffee. And if your restaurant serves poor tasting coffee, customers will spend their money somewhere else. To put it simply, you are throwing away real dollars and depressing your average ticket sales by not making your coffee program the best that it can possibly be.

Craft Roasted Coffee From Stockton Graham & Co.In celebration of International Coffee Month — we think coffee deserves a month of celebration instead of just a day — two Stockton Graham & Co. coffee experts explain how restaurant owners can see over 1000% return on investment (ROI) simply by modernizing their coffee program.

It’s the same presentation that our coffee experts Thom Swain and Brady Butler delivered at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo (NCRLE) on September 22 for hundreds of North Carolina restaurant, bar, hotel and foodservice operators.

At Stockton Graham & Co., Thom and Brady both focus primarily on helping our customers succeed through smart, effective and efficient specialty coffee and beverage programs. Occasionally, in order to do so they must be brutally honest and forthright. Their presentation, titled Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks, was exactly that. The audience was visibly curious, maybe even a little offended, but everyone listened closely and walked away with a sure-fire way to boost their restaurant profitability.

Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks

Thom started by outlining the causes for bad coffee. Things like coffee quality, water quality, and freshness, which are all results of either poor training, apathy, or general cheapness. “I happen to think the most problematic factor is the recipe. A lot of restaurant operators aren’t willing to put enough coffee in the pot to give it the flavor that it needs,” said Thom, who began working in the coffee industry in 1998 and has lead concept development and franchise operations for several well-known beverage brands.

Drip vs Espresso Methods Stockton Graham & Co.Brady, who previously worked at Dilworth Coffee and his family’s Matthews, NC-based store The Coffee Garden, countered. “I tend to lean more towards cleanliness and improper cleaning methods than coffee quality,” Brady said. “Fact is, there are a lot of things that contribute to bad coffee. Let’s understand them so we know how to avoid these things.”

At this point, pockets of the crowd were growing visibly anxious. They were probably realizing that their very own coffee programs might be hindering their business’s potential. But they were in luck, because this was the good part. “Quality is not an act; it is a habit,” Thom quoted Aristotle before showing some tips for achieving the best coffee:

  • Coffee quality – good quality beans
  • Water quality – appropriate filter
  • Freshness – rotate stock and store properly.
  • Recipe – Golden Cup 3.25-4.25oz coffee/half gallon
  • Consistency – weigh coffee or use a timer grinder
  • Cleanliness – everything that touches the coffee
  • Equipment – properly set up and serviced
  • Holding conditions – time and temperature

Why Better Coffee Matters

Brady easily held everyone’s attention, explaining exactly how better coffee directly translates to higher profits. He referenced some impressive data, reflecting how coffee is the fastest growing item on a restaurant’s beverage menu and proving that people spend their dollars on quality.

Coffee vs Espresso Cost Stockton Graham & Co.

  • Coffee is the FASTEST GROWING item on a restaurant’s beverage menu, growing from 10% of all restaurant beverage sales to nearly 15% today.
  • An average of $1,111 is spent on out-of-home coffee by each coffee drinker annually, whether at your establishment or somewhere else.
  • Coffee sales in restaurants reached $23.4 BILLION in 2014 and sales are growing at a more rapid pace in 2015

In modern commerce, which is increasingly driven by customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social networks, customer opinions matter more than ever. According to the National Coffee Association, 68% of customers say coffee QUALITY and TASTE are the reasons they choose one eatery over another. Less than 1/3 of coffee drinkers are price sensitive and would prefer lower-cost coffee to higher-quality coffee, the NCA research said.

Celebrity chef, restaurateur and Food Network star Robert Irvine, who delivered the NCRLE Keynote address, noted that socially networked consumers demand quality and will call out restaurants that don’t deliver.

“People come to you for quality,” Robert Irvine said. “When you do not deliver the quality, you suck.”

“And since every diner has two or three devices these days,” Robert Irvine continued. “The first thing they do when they have a bad experience at your restaurant is message their friends and post it on social media. Bad reviews on social media can kill a restaurant.”

Drip vs Espresso ROIWe couldn’t agree more. But just because the customer is not complaining on social media, doesn’t mean that everything’s good enough. “You need to strive to delight,” Thom advised.

“Positive customer feedback doesn’t come easily, but it is well worth the work. Especially the feedback of a particular type of customer – Millennials,” Brady said. “They are now the largest demographic, and they’re willing to spend their money on quality experiences.”

“The total satisfaction experience is hard to get, it’s hard to replicate, and you can’t cheat at it,” Thom said. “But that’s where you’re going to grow, that’s where customers become loyal to you, that’s when they come back and talk about you in a good way.”

If you operate a restaurant, bar, hotel or other foodservice operation and you are looking to increase profits by updating your coffee program, give us a call at 800 835 5943. Ask for Thom Swain or Brady Butler.