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from Kerri Goodman-Small & Miles Small

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Categories: 2013, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Roaster’s Guild Retreat Recap
Another Roaster’s Guild Retreat has past and the SCAA is cel­e­brat­ing a record atten­dance for this year’s event. Filled with edu­ca­tional and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion class work, round tables, and of course, roast­ing. This year’s roaster event was well orga­nized and man­aged. I am sure that it was a really prof­itable endeavor for the Roaster’s Guild and there­fore the SCAA.

Something seemed miss­ing how­ever – the feel­ing of cama­raderie and fun. Now admit­tedly, that is not meant to be the top rea­son for attend­ing but it cer­tainly is a big one. The offi­cial par­ties seemed sub­dued and, broke into small clutches of old friends pretty quickly. With over 50% of the atten­dees being first timers, this meant that a sub­stan­tial num­ber of folks were left with noth­ing to do after 10PM. Maybe this is why so many first timers don’t return. Classes and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are great but the fel­low­ship and net­work­ing that the Roaster’s Retreat is know for is also of extreme impor­tance. For the most part, roast­ers are pretty shy (roast­ing is not a job for folks who need a lot of com­pany) and the Retreat gives an oppor­tu­nity to “let down” with like kinds. This year the Retreat did not reach out far enough to these new participants.

I think that one rea­son for this may have been how the Saturday bon­fire was orga­nized. The win­ners were announced very early in the evening. After the announce­ment the party pretty much broke up and scat­tered. The last time it was at Stonewall, the win­ners were announced late in the evening after every­one was pretty toasted but every­one stayed and inter­acted with each other because they wanted to know if their team won. It made for bet­ter net­work­ing – some­thing to think about for next year.

One thing I took away from the Retreat itself is a ris­ing level of worry that con­sumers are just not that into the nuance of spe­cialty cof­fees; after all these years of pro­mo­tion and edu­ca­tion, that 83% of con­sumers that drink cof­fee daily remained plateaued at com­mer­cial, office, and chain cof­fees. They are not pos­i­tively respond­ing to the mes­sage of incre­men­tally improv­ing qual­ity. As qual­ity, (and the increased costs asso­ci­ated with it) rise, con­sumers are not reward­ing small roast­ers for the efforts. There is a sense that most of the cof­fee con­sumers are just along for the ride and will pretty much drink “good” qual­ity cof­fee (as long as it scores in the 70’s and 80’s).

Now this is not to say that small bou­tique roast­ers can­not make a mar­ket for their supe­rior cof­fees. However, with a plateaued mar­ket and more and more new roast­ers com­ing on line, the result is intense com­pe­ti­tion. So what is the solu­tion? One thing is for sure: it is NOT a price war! In this, every­one loses, the roast­ers bat­tling it out with each other result­ing in less money to be able to pur­chase qual­ity green, or even stay in busi­ness. And the con­sumer, who is being taught to expect more for less, will also even­tu­ally be the loser when their source of great qual­ity cof­fee can no longer afford to buy it, roast it and sell it. The solu­tion is bet­ter busi­ness! Roasters, it is time to brush up on those busi­ness skills, mar­ket­ing prac­tices, cost con­tain­ment, and cus­tomer ser­vice, to win the race, stay in busi­ness and even grow and thrive. Not sure where to find more skills? Find your­self a men­tor. Read books. Join a pro­fes­sional group. Seek out classes. Challenge your­self to grow!

And on that note, a huge con­grat­u­la­tions to Michael Kell of GoodBean Coffee for orga­niz­ing an amaz­ing event at the Oregon State Fair this year and to Rogue Coffee Roasters on win­ning the Overall 2013 Best Coffee In Oregon Competition! Be sure to check out bestcoffeeinoregon.com for details on all of the winners!

Cheers,
Kerri & Miles

Commercial Coffee Brewing Systems

Categories: 2013, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The com­mer­cial cof­fee indus­try is hot­ter than ever. Coffee machines that were once only seen in restau­rants have migrated over into the every­day office and home set­ting. The rea­son is, com­mer­cial cof­fee mak­ers are much more reli­able over longer peri­ods of time and brew a much bet­ter cup of cof­fee. Commercial units brew cof­fee at an opti­mum brew­ing tem­per­a­ture (10−20 degrees hot­ter than the made-for-home mod­els) extract­ing the cof­fee grinds to max­i­mize taste. When it comes to buy­ing com­mer­cial cof­fee mak­ers, you begin to under­stand that it is a big indus­try and the process can be overwhelming.

The first step is to research the var­i­ous mod­els and find the type of com­mer­cial cof­fee brewer that will best serve your needs. Technological advance­ments have improved brew­ing pre­ci­sion. Coffee can be cre­ated using exact spec­i­fi­ca­tions by just turn­ing the dial or push­ing a but­ton. These com­mer­cial cof­fee brew­ers can also be set to per­form tasks automatically.

Several com­mer­cial cof­fee brew­ers, most of whom are pio­neers in the indus­try are all launch­ing new prod­ucts that cater to spe­cific needs, includ­ing: FETCO, Bloomfield, Wilbur Curtis, Brazen, and Brew-Tek.

Curtis-Gold-CupCurtis and the Gold Cup
The Curtis Gold Cup (CGC) stands alone among open source sin­gle brew­ers.  “The CGC Brewer uses advanced tech­nol­ogy to ensure the per­fect gold cup stan­dard of cof­fee and is very reli­able,” said Brant Curtis, Marketing Director at Wilbur Curtis.  With a touch of a but­ton, the brewer is pre-programed with exact­ing recipe set­tings.  “A group of twenty can walk up to a barista and this machine is able to brew a vol­ume batch of gold stan­dard cof­fee.”  This G4 con­troller is much more than a flashy screen.  Using the most advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­gram­ing processes, it is able to exactly con­trol water tem­per­a­tures, water flow rates and water pulse sequenc­ing to the mil­lisec­ond.  In addi­tion, the user also has the abil­ity to com­pletely cus­tomize their own recipes.  This machine will brew 12–20 ounces in a few min­utes.  With smaller, pre­cisely con­trolled brew vol­umes, higher qual­ity cof­fees and vari­etals may be offered at a more prof­itable price point.  An eco­nom­i­cal fea­ture is the abil­ity to brew one cup at a time dur­ing non-peak hours, “which elim­i­nates the waste fac­tor” said Curtis.

Curtis has taken cof­fee brew­ing tech­nol­ogy to new heights with the Generation Four Gemini with Intellifresh, a dig­i­tally con­trolled and auto­mated sys­tem that uses gen­tle warmth to ensure the cof­fee stays its fresh­est, even when it is moved to a remote warm­ing sta­tion.  “This twin headed unit is designed to keep cof­fee at an opti­mum serv­ing tem­per­a­ture with­out degrad­ing it,” said Curtis.  It is like an ‘elec­tric blan­ket’.  The G4 dig­i­tal con­trol is fast and fea­tures intu­itive con­trols that make it easy to achieve the best cof­fee pos­si­ble by allow­ing com­plete con­trol over tem­per­a­ture, time, vol­ume, pre-infusion, pulse-brewing and water bypass. Pre-set, one-touch global recipes account for cof­fee type, grind and weight to help sim­plify the brew­ing process while deliv­er­ing gourmet results. This cof­fee maker from Curtis takes the guess­work out of cof­fee: “Press brew and it will remem­ber to brew that golden cup of cof­fee in a large batch, every time,” said Curtis.

FetcoFETCO adds Intuitive Touch Screen
FETCO, one of the fore­most com­mer­cial cof­fee brew­ing equip­ment man­u­fac­tures in the world is re-launching their CBS-2130-XTS Series Airport Coffee Brewer in August, now with an intu­itive touch screen. “We lis­tened to our cus­tomers and went back to the draw­ing board to re-design this brew­ing sys­tem. We are pleased with the out­come,” said Vince Kendzierski, Director of Marketing with FETCO. “Our con­sumer is typ­i­cally the con­ve­nience stores, cafe­te­rias, and spe­cialty cof­fee shops. We are a per­fect hot bev­er­age solu­tion for high vol­ume self-service envi­ron­ments.” The unit is small and com­pact mak­ing it an ideal choice for break rooms, cafe­te­ria coun­ter­tops and lobby ser­vice areas. This brewer is engi­neered for smaller batch dis­pens­ing and is avail­able in 1 gal­lon and 3 liter configurations.

8790-Thermal-Dispeser.inddBloomfield is Back
Bloomfield, a long-time inno­va­tor in the indus­try, is intro­duc­ing its Dual Automatic Thermal Coffee Brewer. “This brewer will allow the con­sumer to brew cof­fee that is reli­able and serve the needs for high vol­ume”, said Greg Loffler, VP Sales and Marketing at Bloomfield. “This electro-mechanical brewer may be con­sid­ered tra­di­tional, but its supe­rior engi­neer­ing and proven tech­nol­ogy is time­less. This brewer will deliver an excep­tional cup of cof­fee every time.” The two brew­ing vol­umes of 1 gal­lon and 1 1/2 gal­lons will accom­mo­date fluc­tu­a­tions in demand. Their exclu­sive design allows for easy access and makes for quick, effi­cient ser­vice. The “ready to brew” light indi­cates the proper water tem­per­a­ture to help elim­i­nate the guess­work in brew­ing. The pre­mium qual­ity ther­mo­stat has a full-length stain­less steel sens­ing bulb that rec­og­nizes water tem­per­a­ture accu­rately and cycles less fre­quently. The inde­pen­dent front-mounted hot water faucet allows draw­ing of hot water with­out affect­ing cof­fee taste or brew­ing cycle. The supe­rior spray head design spreads water over the cof­fee grounds cre­at­ing agi­ta­tion and a float­ing action that com­pletely sat­u­rates the cof­fee to cap­ture the full, rich essence of every bean.

Adobe Photoshop PDFBrew-Tek
Brew-Tek has come out with yet another depend­able, eco­nom­i­cal and reli­able com­mer­cial cof­fee brewer. The “ADJD-3” will be on the mar­ket in June and fea­tures 3 but­tons on the front allow­ing the con­sumer to have a brewer that is easy to oper­ate. “The beauty of this brew­ing sys­tem, is that you can use the same packet of cof­fee to brew 3 dif­fer­ent types of cof­fee: mild, medium or bold,” accord­ing to Steve Hyde, national Sales Manager with Brew-Tek. “What it boils down to is choice and bulk brew­ing. That is what we believe makes more money for the client and choice for the consumer.”

Brazen5Brazen – an Automatic Pour-Over Solution
What started out as a way to brew a bet­ter cup of cof­fee has turned into a pas­sion for Joe Behm, owner and inven­tor of the “Brazen” cof­fee brewer. “I took a look at what was avail­able on the mar­ket and knew we could do bet­ter,” said Behm. The Brazen took four years to com­plete, but has received rave reviews, includ­ing the “2012 People’s Choice Award from the SCAA and is Amazon.com’s #1 cof­fee brewer. The Brazen is sold through Boyd’s cof­fee, one of the old­est fam­ily owed cof­fee roast­ers in the USA. “We were quite pleased with what we have achieved,” said Behm. “We have brought some­thing new and inno­v­a­tive to the mar­ket and we believe we have suc­ceeded.” The Brazen incor­po­rates patent-pending tem­per­a­ture cal­i­bra­tion tech­nol­ogy, cou­pled with proven tech­niques such as pre-soak fea­tures, pre­cise and accu­rate water deliv­ery tem­per­a­tures to com­bine for the ulti­mate cus­tom brewed cof­fee. The Brazen puts you, the user, in con­trol of the brew­ing and tem­per­a­ture process. “Most cof­fee mak­ers don’t allow the cus­tomer to change the brew­ing tem­per­a­ture of their cof­fee,” said Behm. Before intro­duc­tion of the Brazen, there were no con­sumer ver­sions avail­able with a pre-soak func­tion and almost all had poor extrac­tion due to poor design of water dispersion.

One of the key aspects of well-brewed cof­fee is mak­ing sure the grounds are evenly sat­u­rated. Unlike most home brew­ers, which drip from the mid­dle, Brazen sat­u­rates the grounds in a shower of hot water, at the right speed and the right tem­per­a­ture. Why is tem­per­a­ture con­trol so impor­tant? Having con­trol over the brew tem­per­a­ture enables you to decide at what tem­per­a­ture you would like your cof­fee brewed. Different brew­ing tem­per­a­tures extract dif­fer­ent fla­vors from the grounds and can greatly affect the char­ac­ter of the cup. “We are the only brewer on the mar­ket that can store your mem­ory and data.” For exam­ple, since no sin­gle brew­ing tem­per­a­ture is “right” or “per­fect,” hot­ter may not always be bet­ter. In sim­ple terms, being able to choose the brew­ing tem­per­a­ture gives you con­trol over the fla­vor of the cof­fee because the tem­per­a­ture affects how much is drawn from the grounds. Draw too much and it is bit­ter, draw too lit­tle and it is weak. By adjust­ing the grind, the qual­ity, and the tem­per­a­ture you have greater control.

Other fea­tures include a man­ual water release for teas, a pre-soak and adjustable rest time, and alti­tude cor­rec­tion. “It is going to be the gauge that oth­ers are judged by because the user has com­plete con­trol of the tem­per­a­ture,” says Behm.

We are proud of what we have achieved. The Brazen was designed to meet or exceed the SCAA Gold Cup Standard. Be on the look­out for new prod­ucts on the mar­ket. We will have 3 new prod­ucts on the mar­ket in the next 1–2 years. We want to be the leader in doing things dif­fer­ently but with pre­ci­sion and accuracy.”

Everybody’s taste in cof­fee is dif­fer­ent. This brewer was designed to be a leader and cost effec­tive, allow­ing every­one to drink a great cup of cof­fee at an afford­able and eco­nom­i­cal price. For me, all that mat­ters at the end of the day is that I have given peo­ple the oppor­tu­nity to have their own jour­ney in cof­fee. I love what I do, for me it’s a pas­sion!” What else sets the Brazen apart is their qual­ity and cus­tomer service.

Whichever cof­fee brewer you choose, keep in mind, it is impor­tant that you make the right choice for your busi­ness needs. Any one of these brew­ers will be a wor­thy invest­ment that will deliver a steam­ing cup of java every time!

Tips for Building Profitable Strategies

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 24-AConsumer taste and per­sonal income drive demand. The prof­itabil­ity of indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies depends on the abil­ity to secure prime loca­tions, drive store traf­fic, and deliver high-quality prod­ucts. Large com­pa­nies have advan­tages in pur­chas­ing, finance, and mar­ket­ing. Small com­pa­nies can com­pete effec­tively by offer­ing spe­cial­ized prod­ucts, serv­ing a local mar­ket, or pro­vid­ing supe­rior cus­tomer service.

Cafes com­pete for con­sumer dol­lars with other spe­cialty con­sumer stores such as con­ve­nience stores, gas sta­tions, quick ser­vice and fast food restau­rants, gourmet food shops, and donut shops. These stores are gen­er­ally under 1,500 square feet and have a small food prepa­ra­tion and back of the house area. Cafes high­light the Espresso process, offer high-quality bak­ery items, and are lead­ers in qual­ity cof­fee and roast­ing. Seating has expanded toward more diverse styles and table heights. Expanding your food and bev­er­age offer­ing can increase your hours of oper­a­tion, prof­itabil­ity, and bring in more cus­tomers to your café. Maintaining qual­ity is impor­tant when adding items and experience.

Experience keeps cus­tomers com­fort­able and com­ing back. The phys­i­cal and vir­tual expe­ri­ence for cafes is becom­ing more unique and closer to that of a full din­ing expe­ri­ence. Community rela­tion­ships are more and more impor­tant with con­sumers look­ing to pur­chase from retail­ers with an out­reach into the com­mu­nity. A ser­vice model that con­sid­ers a loy­alty pro­gram, engag­ing your cus­tomers, social media, and other forms of con­tin­u­ous con­nec­tion will have an impact.

The fol­low­ing are Tips to con­sider when plan­ning a pro­gram for success:

1st Tip – con­sider food items that are desir­able beyond the AM hours. Salads, soups, smooth­ies, and sand­wiches can be inte­grated eas­ily if imple­mented right. Be care­ful to cre­ate a menu and food prepa­ra­tion that keeps your infra­struc­ture costs to a min­i­mum. Often a table top induc­tion burner, a high speed air impinge­ment oven, and sand­wich cart are all you need to make a vari­ety of menu items and still keep your infra­struc­ture costs to a min­i­mum. Typically, the menu prices at Cafes on food items are lower than dine in restau­rants; there­fore, tar­get under 15–20% food costs (per­cent­age of menu price). Work with a menu con­sul­tant on com­pet­i­tive menu items, process, flow, and low prepa­ra­tion and labor time.

2nd Tip – con­sider other bev­er­age items to expand your hours of oper­a­tion. Coffee and tea con­sump­tion and pur­chases often end around 3:00 pm. cre­at­ing more rea­sons to visit your café at dif­fer­ent hours of the day will increase your prof­its. Consider adding beer or wine to your menu. When inte­grat­ing beer or wine, con­sider the space lay­out to max­i­mize sales, tast­ing events, food pair­ing, and pric­ing that is com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket. Look into local codes regard­ing your space lay­out, bar­ri­ers, and other reg­u­la­tions in the serv­ing of beer or wine.

3rd Tip – con­sider inte­grat­ing spe­cial dietary items such as gluten free, sugar-free, and non-dairy selec­tions in your menu. Having a vari­ety of options will attract a wider range of con­sumers into your café and you can mar­ket that you have a menu for many tastes and dietary needs.

4th Tip – con­sider updat­ing your expe­ri­ence to align with your new menu refine­ments. The expe­ri­ence that would align with healthy menu items might inte­grate sus­tain­able and green mate­ri­als and fresh col­ors and tones. Typically retail and restau­rant con­cepts need to be reviewed and updated every 5–7 years at the most or when menu items and over­all con­tent has changed dra­mat­i­cally – which also is an indi­ca­tor to re-review your over­all brand and messaging.

5th Tip – con­sider unique loy­alty and com­mu­nity out­reach pro­grams. Giving back to local orga­ni­za­tions can include donat­ing your café venue for their events, thus pro­vid­ing expo­sure to your café, as well as, show­ing cus­tomers that you are part of their com­mu­nity and want to give back. Consistency and patience is the key. Results in this area can often take 6 months to 1 year at a minimum.

When con­sid­er­ing these tips, cre­ate a sound plan of deliv­ery includ­ing research, bench­marks for suc­cess, and hire indus­try experts to lead you through the process as needed for bet­ter results.  Competition has increased and suc­cess means plan­ning ahead of the curve.

12_12 24-FMelanie Corey-Ferrini is the Founder of The Dynamik Group in Seattle, WA cre­at­ing café and restau­rant con­cepts through­out the world.
www.dynamikspace.com

Roasting in Korea – Stepping up to the quality challenge

Categories: 2012, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Walk­ing down the streets of Seoul, Bussan, and other cities in Korea, one is amazed at the num­ber of cof­fee shops. On one city block in Seoul you might pass more than 10 if you are look­ing. In Seoul the retail stores are at street level, base­ment level and often the sec­ond story of the build­ing. The other thing you might be shocked to see is the num­ber of shops that have 1kilo or smaller roast­ers in their shops and roast­ing every day. The ques­tion is, “Are they doing a good job roasting?”

At an event some years back, Ric Reinhart, Executive Director of the SCAA, spoke to a group of indus­try pro­fes­sion­als that had gath­ered to do the good work of the asso­ci­a­tion. He said (and this is NOT an exact quote) “If some­one get­ting into the indus­try asked me what they should do when open­ing a cof­fee shop I would tell them to open a roaster-retail store.” The roast­ers in the room were not amused by this as they made a liv­ing roast­ing and whole­sal­ing to new cof­fee shops. Was he try­ing to kill that business!?!

Upon reflec­tion one could see the sub­tlety of what he was say­ing, and fig­ure out that what has always been true in the indus­try; there is enough busi­ness for every­body as long as we make qual­ity a pri­or­ity. If new shops open and roast, they will drive more and more con­sumers to qual­ity cof­fee and away from the mediocre cof­fee. If there are more cus­tomers demand­ing it, there will be more cus­tomers for qual­ity whole­sale cof­fee as those that don’t roast try to upgrade.

The true chal­lenge is this: Just because a com­pany is roast­ing their own cof­fee does not mean it is a supe­rior prod­uct. If you are not pro­vid­ing qual­ity cof­fee it will con­fuse con­sumers even more and could send them back to reli­able and pre­dictable coffee.

So there are sev­eral chal­lenges to this new phase of in shop roast­ing. A great case study is to look at what is hap­pen­ing in Korea and learn­ing from their suc­cesses and fail­ures. Let’s take a quick look back before we look forward.

United States: We roasted cof­fee in our homes in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. We moved away from that expe­ri­ence in the mid 1900’s with the indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion putting cof­fee in a con­ve­nient can on the gro­cery store shelf. In the 1960’s and mov­ing for­ward, some cof­fee extrem­ists found qual­ity in a cup by small batch roast­ing and started the spe­cialty cof­fee mar­ket. People and shops were resis­tant to roast­ing their own and were happy to have an indus­try pro­fes­sional do it for them and deliver fresh roasted cof­fee each week. Consumers now enjoy cof­fee all day but it is dom­i­nated by our grab and go ‘need cof­fee’ men­tal­ity instead of an ‘enjoy cof­fee’ one.

Korea: Drank tea for 6000 years, and got infil­trated by the West’s craze for cof­fee about ten years ago; Deciding to imi­tate and improve on our prod­uct. Coffee houses sprang up every­where pro­vid­ing a social place to enjoy each other’s com­pany over a deli­cious cup. Coffee is con­sumed as a means to gather. Seldom are shops open at 6:00am for the com­muter but more often until 11:00pm for the late night meeting.

Challenges for the small roast­ing oper­a­tions are sim­i­lar between our two coun­tries, but addressed differently.

Challenge 1: Roasting in the City and Putting Out Smoke.
In the United States most shop roast­ers are above 5 kilos (likely 12 kilos and up). Depending on where the store is sit­u­ated it is often required to put on after­burn­ers or sweep­ers. This adds instal­la­tion costs, pro­duc­tion costs, per­mits and inspec­tions and often square footage costs.

In Korea the roast­ers are often 2 kilos or less. Cheap vent pipes exhaust the smoke and neigh­bors think it smells great.

Challenge 2: Training and Labor for Roasting staff.
In the US there is a com­mu­nity of roast­ers that help each other. If you are just start­ing out you can join the Roasters Guild and access the tal­ents and skills of other roast­ers. There are also con­sul­tants out there that will help write pro­ce­dure manuals.

In Korea it is tougher to find a men­tor group. There are labs pop­ping up every­where that you can go and buy knowl­edge, although a lot of it is ques­tion­able. The SCAA licenses Roasters Guild classes to part­ners in Korea so they can actu­ally get cer­ti­fied with the SCAA.

Challenge 3: Supply of Quality Green Coffee
In the US many of the roast­ers offer a range of cof­fee. They will offer ‘the house blend’ for the grab and go cus­tomers. They also offer ‘high end’ cof­fees for those cus­tomers that will sit and enjoy it or that want a pound for home. Many also whole­sale blends to other restau­rants and cof­fee shops. This means that US roast­ers buy grades 1–3 and carry more inventory.

In Korea the small shops roast to order for their shops and cus­tomers. They are all com­pet­ing to buy the new 90+ cof­fees and to cel­e­brate them as sin­gle serve drinks. At Square Garden Café, Sung Hui Park will even hand roast cof­fee over the open flame of the stove while you wait. This puts pres­sure on importers to hunt for, and con­tract for, grade 1 cof­fee that scores high. Not a lot of cof­fee is con­sumed in the home as it is a social drink rather than the morn­ing fuel.

Challenge 4: The Big Chains
In the US, spe­cialty cof­fee is dri­ven by the chains. They are often seen as the mar­ket­ing depart­ments of the small roast­ing shops. The best thing that the chains do is to move peo­ple from the gro­cery store canned cof­fees to a bet­ter cup. Then a sub­set of those peo­ple go on to demand great cof­fee and find the local roaster.

In Korea, the chains are attempt­ing to be large ver­sions of the small shops and tend to still offer hand pours and focus on roast­ing their own as a sell­ing point. They tend to be much more direct com­pe­ti­tion for the ‘lit­tle guy’.

Challenge 5: Differentiation in a Saturated Market
In the US you can still dif­fer­en­ti­ate just by the fact you are roast­ing. The next thing you can do is sin­gle serve or hand drip the coffee.

In Korea since they already roast and hand drip, dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion comes with inte­rior design and food pair­ing. The chains don’t do this very well so the small shop still can have a com­pet­i­tive advantage.

Challenge 6: REALLY Understanding Quality
In the US we get together, share ideas, train each other and try to make the indus­try stronger. We inno­vate things like the SCAA scor­ing sys­tem and the CQI Q-Grader cer­ti­fi­ca­tion so we can improve the entire sup­ply chain. The US also believes in the value of prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence and trial and error.

In Korea, if imi­ta­tion is the best form of flat­tery, then the US should be VERY flat­tered. Koreans are com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion but gen­er­ally try not to share ideas amongst them­selves. They look for for­mal school­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions like those offered through SCAA and CQI. This is why Korea has about 4 times as many Q-Graders as the US. First year baris­tas are get­ting cer­ti­fied. They want to know how to do things right up front, the first time.

There are some absolutely stun­ning exam­ples of qual­ity in both coun­tries. In the US how­ever there is a higher like­li­hood that a new roaster is going to pro­duce a high qual­ity prod­uct as the indus­try will make sure they have they knowl­edge to do so. In Korea there is ‘book learn­ing’ but some­times the per­son that wrote the book was not a cof­fee pro­fes­sional. As the SCAA con­tin­ues to spread the knowl­edge around the world, coun­tries like Korea will con­tinue to improve. In Korea there is also a desire to be BETTER than the com­pe­ti­tion, and a resis­tance to shar­ing infor­ma­tion. This desire com­pen­sates for the cul­tural dif­fer­ence of non-collaboration.

The bot­tom line: Both coun­tries are com­mit­ted to qual­ity. Neither coun­try will tol­er­ate small roast­ers doing a bad job. In the US we will edu­cate them and make them bet­ter. In Korea the poor roaster will solve the prob­lem by going out of busi­ness. Either way, the qual­ity will hope­fully stay high and drive more cus­tomers to desire great coffee.

Rocky can be reached at rocky@INTLcoffeeConsulting.com

Retailer Profile: Something is Brewing in California

Categories: 2012, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

We always try to pro­file busi­ness own­ers that can offer some unique advice and show­case their bold busi­ness moves within the indus­try. Today isn’t an excep­tion, as we head down to Santa Monica, CA to chat with Joy Park, the CEO of Brew Coffee Bar.

V. What made you get into the cof­fee busi­ness at such a young age?
P. I got into cof­fee because I was drink­ing crappy cof­fee my entire life, and liv­ing in Los Angeles I saw a pretty huge void in terms of good cof­fee. That is why I wanted to get into the cof­fee busi­ness. My part­ner Charm and I both went to Cornell for hos­pi­tal­ity, so this is very impor­tant to us, we really care about ser­vice nation­ally. He opened up a cof­fee shop in Boston, which was really suc­cess­ful. I wanted to open some­thing in L.A., so we teamed up and started Brew Café Bar. We opened up our first loca­tion in Santa Monica about 9 months ago, we are open in Yahoo cen­ter, and we have a cof­fee truck as well, which we run daily around downtown.

We came in for the pur­pose of spread­ing good cof­fee as quickly as pos­si­ble. All these great lit­tle cof­fee shops in L.A. and even in the greater parts of America, are all in these small neigh­bor­hoods that are hard to get to, and some of them are a lit­tle pre­ten­tious. I real­ized some­times it’s dif­fi­cult to actu­ally have access to some great cof­fee, so our inten­tion was to bring cof­fee to the peo­ple. That’s how we approached this mar­ket, which is why we are in Yahoo cen­ter right now. We under­stand that not every­one knows about great cof­fee, not every­one is will­ing to drive and walk through that alley and get to the cof­fee shop on the corner.

V. How did you get your train­ing?
P. I needed to be able to do the craft. I am not one of those own­ers that are hands-off; I am really hands-on. So, I actu­ally got train­ing in Portland by Stumptown cof­fee roast­ers. We got our offi­cial train­ing there for a week, and then got con­stantly trained for the next 10 months. We had them send two train­ers for at least a month and half.

What is great about us is that we brought in expe­ri­enced skilled baris­tas. Then we added on the Stumptown train­ing, and so we have amaz­ing baris­tas. For me, there is a dif­fer­ence between some­one who cares about cof­fee, who does it as a career ver­sus some­one who just con­sid­ers it as his/her side job. I went through over 400 apps and inter­views to find a great team of less than 10 peo­ple, and I am happy about that. Some even moved from out-of-state to come join our team.

I want to build and main­tain a work place where our team mem­bers are com­fort­able. You have to put the best peo­ple together, but you have to make sure that they get along. I think that is what is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from our com­pany in terms of how we hire, how we keep our employ­ees, and how we have a lower turnover even in this industry.

V. Coffee Truck! What is the idea behind it?
P. We really wanted to do a mobile café, and doing so has been a great expe­ri­ence. We real­ized we could build a cof­fee shop any­where. You give us 100 square feet of space, we will make it work and run effi­ciently. It has been 3 months now, and we are the very first cof­fee truck in Los Angeles. L.A. is the hard­est place to get a per­mit from. What we did dif­fer­ent is that we didn’t get your coach-roach aver­age 1980s truck, instead we took a Mercedes Sprinter van and uplifted it with La Marzocco machines and grinders.

It has been great so far. We are doing events with it, so the truck has been very busy. That truck is great in terms of doing some­thing unique on the side and attract­ing a dif­fer­ent mar­ket. We did the Easter Sunday Church event and the Porsche Boxster launch among oth­ers. I am very for­tu­nate that we got it passed because it was a very dif­fi­cult process to go through.

V. Anything you want to share with the cof­fee com­mu­nity?
P. What I find unique about this busi­ness is how people’s view and their rela­tion­ship with cof­fee are almost tra­di­tional. People are used to what they know and cof­fee is a daily habit. When Starbucks came to the mar­ket, peo­ple believed that they were a supe­rior prod­uct. That is why I respect Starbucks, because they did change the per­cep­tion of cof­fee; but the thing is, they just stopped right there. That did bug me and moti­vated me to start a cof­fee com­pany of my own. There is actu­ally really good cof­fee out there from roast­ers that go on direct trade with the farm­ers. The farm­ers grow bet­ter beans. The qual­ity con­trol starts from the cherry and Stumptown roasts beau­ti­fully. We take it a step fur­ther and we have a great team of baris­tas that can actu­ally craft what­ever you order to its honor. It has been a great jour­ney for me edu­cat­ing and open­ing people’s eyes to what really great cof­fee is. That is why I am really excited. If I can change someone’s view about cof­fee, then I believe the knowl­edge should be shared. For me there are no bound­aries, no per­fect cup of cof­fee, no per­fect latte art and no per­fect baris­tas. There’s always room for more.

Brew Coffee Bar

2425 Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90404
www.brewcoffeebar.com
joy@brewcoffeebar.com

I found my “Roots” to coffee in Africa

Categories: 2012, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This is not a story of an epic jour­ney like Alex Haley’s to find his ances­try, but I did dis­cover a pretty cool tie to my present sit­u­a­tion in the cof­fee world and to a shrubby lit­tle cof­fee plant in Kenya.

If you were to really do the in-depth research, like Mr. Haley did in his book, ‘Roots’, the cof­fee per­son would find them­selves embrac­ing their ances­try in Ethiopia where cof­fee began. That is assum­ing of course your fam­ily his­tory included the Arabica ances­try. If you were of the Robusta lin­eage, your genealog­i­cal jour­ney would end in Uganda. My rev­e­la­tion only dates back about one gen­er­a­tion and lands me in a lit­tle town called Ruiru about an hour out­side of Nairobi, Kenya.

In the SPECIALTY cof­fee fam­ily, specif­i­cally the Coffee Quality Institute clan, there is a key fig­ure in the fam­ily. Let me intro­duce you to Ruiru 11. This scrubby lit­tle guy is about 4 feet tall. Don’t let its small size fool you. It was built to be resistent to CBD (cof­fee berry dis­ease), which is a big prob­lem for Kenya Coffee Farmers. It is the cre­ation of the Coffee Research Fondation located in Ruiru. The prob­lem was the mixed reviews it was get­ting for cup qual­ity. It was at this moment that MY roots in cof­fee begin.

The Coffee Reasearch Foundation needed some objec­tive help to define the fla­vor char­ac­ter­is­tics of Kenyan Coffee so they could com­pare the Ruiru 11 to those norms. Then they could say once and for all if the taste char­ac­ter­is­tics were bet­ter / same / worse.

They found an upstart orga­ni­za­tion, a com­mit­tee really, under the SCAA called the Specialty Coffee Institute. It was co-founded by Ted Lingle who was then the Executive Director of SCAA. The one employee they had, Joseph Rivera, was charged with doing research for the group. He was put on this project as well.

Joseph used sev­eral cof­fees from Kenya. This included a lot that just gar­nered a supe­rior price at auc­tion, some SL28 and Ruiru11. The goal was to do an analy­sis of the organic acid makeup of this cof­fee and to try and com­pare it to other cof­fees. Thereby an under­stand­ing of the fla­vor dif­fer­ences in the cof­fee cre­ated by the var­i­ous organic acids might be achieved. This research became one of the cor­ner­stones to under­stand­ing qual­ity in cof­fee and led to addi­tional research as to how to develop cer­tain acids in coffee.

Some Science & Coffee

Here are some things that we know as a result of the research and sub­se­quent stud­ies. The acids that cre­ated the biggest pos­i­tive changes in the Kenyan cof­fee were Phosphoric and Malic acids. Let’s look at each one, how they are cre­ated, and there effect on cof­fee flavor.

Malic Acid is the “apple acid” as it can con­tribute to the per­cep­tion of green apple tart­ness and sweet­ness in the fla­vor of cof­fee. It is pro­duced when the cof­fee matures more slowly. Higher alti­tudes and shady con­di­tions will allow a cof­fee to mature at a reduced pace due to lower tem­per­a­tures. If the cof­fee has time to ripen slowly, the acidic devel­op­ment is greatly enhanced as the ‘cit­ric acid cycle’ is allowed to con­tinue and the plant will pro­duce more acids.

Phosphoric acid is devel­oped when cof­fee absorbs phos­phates in the soil. These can be nat­u­rally occur­ring or added to the soil through fer­til­iz­ers. The most notable fea­ture of phos­phoric acid is that is does not have a taste per se, but it adds to the bright­ness or the per­cep­tion of acid­ity in the taste. Phosphates also make the bub­bles in sodas. This adds to the ‘excite­ment’ of the soda but does not affect the fla­vor. (If you let a soda go flat, it still tastes the same, but its taste is bor­ing or stale.) The inter­est­ing thing about these two acids is that they each have very small amounts in cof­fee com­pared to other acids. They are the small­est acids hav­ing the best impact on flavor.

So why was the Kenyan Coffee so dif­fer­ent? The study con­cluded that the Kenyan cof­fees had more phoshoric and malic acid than a washed Colombian used in the study. You can imag­ine that this had a dra­matic impact on the cof­fee. WARNING: It would be fool­ish to assume that ALL Kenyan cof­fees have this trait any­more than you can say that ALL Indonesians have lower body. Some gen­er­al­iza­tions are help­ful but it all comes down to the indi­vid­ual lots. As we just demon­strated, dif­fer­ent grow­ing con­di­tions and dif­fer­ent soil make up can cause a cof­fee to have a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent pro­file than other cof­fees of the same coun­try. Joseph Rivera sum­ma­rized, “The study really shed the light on the role of acids and how they inter­act to effect cof­fee fla­vor. It’s amaz­ing how rel­a­tively small changes in cof­fee brew com­po­si­tions can bring about entirely new fla­vor pro­files, even within the same coffee.”

So how does this relate to MY cof­fee roots? Rivera shared this with me, “I think the study played a huge role in ini­tially bring­ing about a greater level of aware­ness to the whole issue of cof­fee chem­istry. Since then, we have seen the devel­op­ment of the Q-Program, sen­sory tests, as well as sev­eral tools in an effort to objec­tively assess cof­fee qual­ity. Prior to this, I think the indus­try was more of an ‘art’ with lit­tle to any ‘science’.”

Specialty Coffee Institute soon became CQI. CQI had a new mis­sion: The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is a non­profit orga­ni­za­tion work­ing inter­na­tion­ally to improve the qual­ity of cof­fee and the lives of the peo­ple who pro­duce it. The Q-Coffee sys­tem, the Q-Grader course, and the sci­ence that sup­ports it man­i­fested from this orig­i­nal research.

I became a Q-Grader instruc­tor in 2010 and I now travel the world shar­ing this infor­ma­tion. And only coin­ci­dently I ended up teach­ing at the Coffee Research Foundation in Ruiru, Kenya, the very lab in which Ruiru 11 was cre­ated. I was back to my cof­fee roots.

I would like to per­son­ally thank the Coffee Research Foundation and Coffee Quality Institute for their research and desire to improve qual­ity in the sup­ply chain. Because of them, I get to do what I do! Oh and just to beat the ‘Roots’ theme to death: “I FOUND you! Ruiru11 I FOUND you.”

Slammed!

Categories: 2011, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Next time you race up front to res­cue a pair of pan­icked baris­tas serv­ing 100 cups an hour con­sider the 2000-cups-per hour Texas-sized chuck wagon break­fasts, church ser­vices for 1000 and the annual Lance Armstrong bicy­cle race R.C. Beall has mas­tered since 1981.

Beall, who founded Montana Coffee Traders (and its Austin, Tex. twin), cut his teeth on Montana rodeos which remain among the more chal­leng­ing venues for the Montana/Texas-based roaster who sells and ser­vices cof­fee brew­ing equip­ment and oper­ates retail shops in Kalispell, Whitefish, Flathead and Columbia Falls Montana as well as the University of Texas, Austin.  www.coffeetraders.com
A Licensed Q-Grader, Beall doesn’t serve swill. He does good busi­ness in high-volume brew­ing, deliv­er­ing 50 to 250 fresh-brewed gal­lons at a time. In some venues a shop can earn $35 per gal­lon retail which is what hotels charge (or $160 whole­sale at $1 a cup deliv­ered in 10-gallon containers).

Every shop should offer catered cof­fee in 96-oz. insu­lated card­board take-away. The busi­ness is prof­itable at $18 for reg­u­lar brew but what Beall has learned is the abil­ity to scale up for events like the pop­u­lar Austin City Limits con­certs and city-wide extravaganzas.

Churches are a sig­nif­i­cant part of his cus­tomer base, says Paul Ballenger, founder of Nashville, Tenn.-based Coffee Makers Etc. In the half hour fol­low­ing ser­vices it is not unusual for churches to serve 500 to 1000 8-ounce cups from a dozen serv­ing sta­tions. www.coffeemakersetc.com

Pastors know that it doesn’t look good to serve bad cof­fee,” he observes.

Ballenger has a lot to say in praise of the gear itself. Modern brew­ers are not the over-heating over-extracting per­co­la­tors of yore.

Next gen­er­a­tion 4.5– to 45-gallon per hour brew­ers from BUNN, Fetco, Grindmaster, and Wilbur Curtis pro­vide pre­cise tem­per­a­ture con­trols, extrac­tion brew­ing, inter­change­able heat-conserving ther­mal dis­pensers and pulse brew­ing tech­nol­ogy to please the crowds.

You can serve good – even great cof­fee – in quan­tity if you have the right equip­ment and make prepa­ra­tions well in advance, says Beall, “You just have to get up well before dawn.”

Our chal­lenge as spe­cialty roast­ers 30 years ago was the 10-cent bot­tom­less cup at small town cafes,” he explains. “We were sit­u­ated out­side Glacier Park sur­rounded by 4 mil­lion acres of wilder­ness. Everything was far apart. We learned to do things long distance.”

That’s how he dis­cov­ered the key to suc­cess, he explains. “It’s too much trou­ble to take brew­ing equip­ment to a rodeo and set it up. We brew double-strength cof­fee in a row of French presses and add hot water to taste,” he says.

Delivering 3,750 pounds of brewed cof­fee poses logis­ti­cal prob­lems that may require a fork­lift, two pickup trucks and pal­lets, but that’s often a lot eas­ier than find­ing a sup­ply of fil­tered water.
Ballenger, who dis­trib­utes all the major brands, says that choos­ing the right equip­ment is crit­i­cal… but only after you have scouted the site for water and elec­tric­ity. In most instances one or both are lack­ing, he says.

Power is one of the biggest con­sid­er­a­tions,” he says, “Serving that large a crowd comes down to heat­ing lots of water very quickly.” Lining up 10 half-gallon cof­fee mak­ers in a church hall is sure to blow a fuse. A 100-cup per­co­la­tor takes an hour to warm up and brew.

Some of the big­ger equip­ment takes 440 volts. The 220-volt units are com­mon,” he says. High-volume brew­ers that pro­duce 4– to up to 45-gallons an hour are typ­i­cal (the BUNN Titan series makes 22 gal­lons an hour, enough to make 352 8-oz. cups). Prices range from $2,000 to $12,000.

A stain­less steel three gal­lon elec­tric cof­fee urn with a 10-gallon reser­voir that can brew half batches costs under $2,500 new and 1.5 gal­lon portable servers are $175 each.

Another thing – remem­ber to limit the cup size to 8 oz.,” says Beall. Using a 12-oz. cup greatly increases your cost and the cof­fee gets cold while peo­ple are talk­ing, lead­ing to unnec­es­sary waste.

They can always come back for a sec­ond cup, he says.

Beall’s crew can make 250 gal­lons at a time, occa­sion­ally return­ing to re-brew and refill each 5-gallon ther­mos with hot coffee.

Labor is a big con­sid­er­a­tion. Pre-heating water using boil­ers late in the evening means you can arrive at 2 a.m. and imme­di­ately begin brew­ing. Quality ther­mals keep cof­fee hot for four hours.

The Lance Armstrong can­cer pre­ven­tion ride is more than an hour away. Beall prides him­self in the supe­rior cof­fee he donates to fuel the vol­un­teers so vital to the event.

Hotels and local con­ven­tion cen­ters gen­er­ally invest in their own equip­ment but retail­ers should con­sider pur­su­ing con­ces­sions dur­ing col­lege or high school foot­ball half-time rush or the lines form­ing for the sev­enth inning stretch on a fine October after­noon at the four dia­mond adult league ballpark.

Cowboy Days hosted by the City of Austin draws a crowd large enough to con­sume 4,000 cups in two and a half hours. “They have eight real cow­boy chuck wagon cooks mak­ing cow­boy cof­fee in big enamel ket­tles,” says Beall, but that is not nearly enough. “We have 250 gal­lons ready to go by 5 a.m. in 5-gallon ther­mos, and even then we have to re-brew.”