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Six Steps to Great Coffee

Read time: 5 Min
France, 09th September 2015

Coffee offers you one last opportunity to wow diners at the end of a great meal, but get it wrong and you risk leaving your customers with a bad taste in their mouths. David Veal, Executive Director of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE), offers six top tips for creating a quality and profitable coffee offering.

This June SCAE is returning to the roots of speciality coffee in Europe when we will host our annual event, World of Coffee, in the beautiful Swedish port of Gothenburg.

 The Nordic World of Coffee 2015, sponsored by BWT water+more, will be a homecoming for the European coffee community, bringing coffee aficionados from around the world to the Nordic region, home to the biggest consumers of coffee on the planet and the location of where speciality coffee first began its entry into Europe.


With such a proud coffee heritage it is little wonder that the Nordic countries are at the cutting-edge of coffee, boasting some of the most innovative coffee emporiums and talented coffee professionals in the world. When over 5,000 visitors arrive in Gothenburg from more than 100 countries for the Nordic World of Coffee during Sweden’s famous Midsummer Week (16-18 June), they will be able to learn at first hand what it takes to create a highly valued and profitable coffee business.


Big Business, Powerful Flavours

As the second most traded commodity on the planet, coffee is big business and for those of us who work in the industry and are passionate about it, it is a truly wondrous beverage, brimming with kaleidescope of flavours and rich aromas. As a product, it doesn’t just provide you with valuable sales and profit, it also offers you a great opportunity to showcase your creativity and serve memorable flavours that complement your cuisine.


Sadly, some hospitality operators have not realised coffee’s commercial and creative potential. All too often a great meal is ruined by a bitter espresso or a badly brewed filter coffee. The good news, however, is that quality coffee is easily achievable. Here are SCAE’s five top tips for improving your coffee offering:


  1. Research & Educate

Millions of people around the world drink coffee every day but many do not understand its complexities – how different roasting, grinding and brewing techniques can influence its taste and how you can manipulate coffee just like any other ingredient in your kitchen to create a variety of flavours.


At SCAE we are dedicated to ‘Inspiring Coffee Excellence’ and we offer a wide range of tools to help you understand coffee and improve your offering, from our world-renowned Coffee Diploma System which educates foodservice and coffee professionals from entry level up to senior management, to coffee research and practical ‘how to’ guides.


Our one-day ‘Introduction to Coffee’ module is a great place for chefs and front-of-house teams to start – it will bring you on the journey of coffee, from bean to cup. Other modules, including Green Coffee, Sensory Skills, Roasting, Brewing and Barista Skills, delve deeper and teach you how to craft exceptional coffee and focus on how to grow your coffee business. Visit us at for more details.


  1. Grind & Brew Freshly

Coffee, like all natural ingredients, is best when fresh. The better the quality of the beans, and the fresher the grind and brew, the better the taste will be for the customer.


Your grinder is your best friend and one of the most important pieces of equipment in your kitchen. Grinding the beans freshly for each cup makes a huge difference to the taste and flavour of the end product. Try it for yourself – you’ll immediately see the difference in taste and aroma from coffee which has been ground fresh to order and coffee which has been ground at an earlier time and set aside. The taste of your coffee will be further enhanced if you can clean your grinder blades every day and change them regularly. Your coffee supplier will be able to advise how to do this.


At World of Coffee this June, SCAE is hosting the largest gathering of coffee farmers and producers in Europe, providing you with a valuable opportunity to learn about fresh coffee directly from those who grow it in a series of networking events, cuppings (coffee tastings) and discussions. The world’s most innovative coffee equipment suppliers are also exhibiting at the event, offering you the chance to test some of the best equipment on the market including those all-important grinders.


  1. Find the Right Equipment for Your Business

A finely-tuned espresso machine is a thing of beauty and an essential piece of equipment for high-volume cafés and speciality coffee shops, but not every foodservice business has the budget or the footfall to justify a top-of-the range machine.


The good news is that filter coffee is back in vogue (in truth, for coffee purists it never went out of fashion) and its growing popularity is great for those wanting to provide quality coffee on a tighter budget.


Filter coffee is a big hit with discerning coffee lovers as it allows you to taste the full flavour of the coffee which can sometimes be lost in milk-based drinks. You can learn all about different brew methods, from the straight forward pour-over machine to a v60 hand-brewed coffee, in our Coffee Diploma System Brewing module and quality speciality coffee suppliers will also be able to provide helpful training and advice. Look for suppliers who are members of SCAE – this means that they are dedicated to supporting the industry with education and training.


  1. Mind Your Equipment

Remember the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’? Keep your equipment in top condition by undertaking regular cleaning and maintenance. It will prolong the lifecycle of your machinery and help avoid costly and stressful breakdowns during busy service. When sourcing new machinery check the service contract – having maintenance support on speed-dial is worth its weight in speciality coffee!


  1. Keep an Eye on Your GPM

Coffee can offer great gross profit margins, but you need to tailor your offering to suit your clientele and keep a close eye on the bottom line. For instance, while a hand-brewed v60 coffee will wow discerning coffee lovers it is not always practical during peak service in high-volume catering establishments.


Work with your suppliers to find the right coffee offering to suit your business – the best solution will be one that allows for good turnover and provides strong margins while still maintaining quality. To help you achieve this, you should insist that your supplier provides full and frequent training for your staff.


  1. Don’t Forget About Water

A cup of coffee is made mainly with water – in fact, water accounts for almost 99% of the content – but this is often overlooked in the creation process. A critical piece of equipment that you should have, therefore, is a water filtration system. Not only will it protect your other equipment from scaling (coffee machine, boilers, brewers and kettles) but you will also notice a huge improvement in the flavour of your coffee. Once you have installed your water filter, ensure that you replace the filters regularly, as per the manufacturers specifications.


By implementing these six simple steps you will make a substantial difference to the quality of your coffee. Remember, speciality coffee is highly valued and offers plenty of scope for creativity so fire your customers imagination with an exciting coffee menu that provides good sales potential.


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