If you were to walk into high-volume kitchen around breakfast service you would instantly feel the anxiety and importance of service underway. At which time, if you could make your way to the coffee serving area it could wear many faces. One face, is that of your 4-year-olds handy work with coffee grounds, scattering them meticulously around the work area. Another face might be one where your same 4-year-old got a hold of a water hose and decided the floor needed watering. Either scenario implies coffee service is well underway and stresses the importance of properly functioning equipment.
Our company, Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters, was created on a Rock in the middle of ocean with customers using reverse osmosis from sea water, diesel generated power and a serious lack of resources. That being said, each property we service has standards which are consistent with the traveler’s expectations of a 4 or 5 star hotel. This means we respond with the same standards– ensuring proper functioning equipment, regularly scheduled maintenance programs and a steadfast commitment to coffee quality.
Great coffee can be sourced, roasted and delivered with the very best intentions. But, this is only the beginning of providing your guest with the very best cup of coffee. When touring hotel and resort properties, we see a pattern of breakdowns in terms of the responsibility in the coffee supply chain.
A few common examples of breakdowns:
- Outdated water filter banks
- Serving thermos sight glass with built up coffee residue
- Looking under the brewer displays and seeing spray heads that are occupied with coffee build up
- Pulling out a brew basket observing coffee stains on the bottom
These are top level issues which have direct effect on coffee taste.
It’s this lack of care for the process that leaves everyone in the hotel coffee chain a loser. From the producer who took the time to grow and selectively mill the coffee, to the roaster who sourced, roasted and delivered to the property, to the staff member brewing and serving the coffee, to the guest, who, booked and paid for a room but now is forced to endure the process of hating hotel coffee, and finally, to the biggest loser in the chain– the hotel management who is now seen as apathetic to detail and quality.
It doesn’t need to be this way, and hoteliers should reject any coffee program that resembles this scenario.
You should first establish your intentions in your coffee program. Is it a great cup of coffee or just serving a black liquid that resembles coffee in color, smell and taste? Once you establish your goals for your program, it’s time to seek out your future partner in coffee.
First, start with coffee freshness and inventories. If the provider is willing to drop several months of inventory to your location to be used at some time soon, no date specific, you know your freshness will be sacrificed. What you should expect and insist on, is smaller quantities of inventory and regularly scheduled deliveries. This will indicate a level of care for quality and freshness of your coffee.
Second, check equipment quality and expertise. If a company does not have a direct relationship with the equipment being used or any indication of how their coffee will be brewed and served, then you are talking to the wrong purveyor. Brewing, grinding and serving equipment will make all the difference in the final step of your coffee service. Proper ratios of grounds to water, water temperatures and clean equipment can make things very difficult for consistency causing issues with quality, and ultimately guest experiences.
Third, look for a solid preventative maintenance plan which will not only keep your equipment and service running smoothly, but it will allow your staff to give direct feedback to your coffee provider. The regularly scheduled plans should include water filters changes, boiler monitoring and light cleaning of specific equipment. The benefit of having a technician regularly on property also strengthens your overall relationship between staff and purveyor indicating a willingness to add value to your partnership.
Your coffee program can no longer be thought of a line item delivered alongside frozen chicken. Guests and consumers are demanding transparency with products, and properties who provide an experience guests can enjoy, will add value to their stay. We have now moved into a value chain in which all parties should meet their expectations. Brand recognition as well as a willingness for the property to provide the best possible product will allow guests to become loyal patrons.