Wake up and taste the coffee
Coffee is virtually an essential for every business meeting but, with the recent explosion in coffee drinking and coffee knowledge, do you know how to tell the great from the mediocre and are you serving only the best? Ross Kane, Business Development Manager with multi-award-winning Bailies Coffee provides NI Business Now with some insights on what it takes to brew and serve great coffee in the office and has a great offer for NI Business Now readers.
Offering coffee is a basic client service which most business meetings will kick off with, but how your company chooses to serve coffee to its clients can speak volumes about you as a business.
Often new and prospective clients will be analysing every detail of a prospective supplier or partner and coffee service is something that is often overlooked, or misunderstood, by firms. How you do anything can be perceived by a prospective client as how you do everything, and serving up a mediocre cup of coffee can leave a bitter taste in their mouths, in more ways than one.
So, what should you consider when choosing a coffee service for your offices?
It is of course tempting to opt for convenience and simplicity, but hopefully very few businesses are reaching for the jar of instant granules and flicking on the kettle any more. The next step up from instant coffee is the ‘pod’ systems such as K-Cup or Nespresso which have exploded in popularity in recent years, in no small part to the ‘George Clooney’ factor of high spend advertising campaigns in the main stream media. On the plus side this solution is quick and clean, and will produce a better coffee than instant. On the downside it’s a pre-packed, pre-ground coffee which lacks freshness and brewing through plastic isn’t a very gourmet option. The waste from the used plastic sachets isn’t the most eco-friendly, you are restricted to making one coffee at a time which is time-consuming, and the pods themselves are expensive for what they are.
If you decide to move beyond the convenience option and want to really impress a client with a delicious coffee that will enhance their visitor experience in your premises and have that bit of ‘wow’ factor, then consider introducing a pourover method such as Chemex or Hario v60, ideally alongside a grinder and boiling kettle so you are serving freshly ground and brewed coffee. Serving coffee in this way has now become commonplace in many tech and IT companies where coffee is an integral part of the culture. It is a little more time consuming, however that bit of theatre involved in preparation can impress clients, whether they are coffee lovers or not, and the flavour in the cup will shine. This solution is also a fraction of the cost of the pod system and allows you to serve the finest, freshest single origin coffees from around the world.
The Aeropress is a quick, easy clean option, ideal for making a single cup of delicious coffee for a one-to-one meeting. Regardless of your business needs, everyone should own an aeropress! It’s the perfect way to make a delicious coffee with breakfast, or to takeaway on your commute to work in your travel mug. This solution works best alongside a grinder and boiling kettle, and can be a nice feature to have in the staff kitchen to allow your staff to experience and enjoy different coffee origins, roasters etc. The Aeropress can brew a coffee in around one minute and is very easy to clean.
Cafetiere(aka. French Press)is a very simple method, and it is a classic. Get a few good-looking press pots so you can leave them on the meeting room table for refills. On the downside, because there is no filter paper involved you will tend to get some more finer particles in the cup, which leave that ‘sludgy’ residue at the bottom of your cup and leave a stronger, slightly unpleasant finish. It is more straightforward than brewing a Chemex, but won’t have that same edge in terms of style and taste.
If you want to serve really high quality coffee in larger volumes, for larger meetings, conferences and for your staff to enjoy, you can still get good coffee from something like the Bunn Smartwave Brewer & FPG Grinder, which works sort of like an automated pourover brewer. That means you still get good coffee, just a lot more of it. Even if you like pourover or an Aeropress for yourself, a big coffee maker might be nice to have for days full of meetings, so you can get down to business as it is brewed before your clients arrive.
If you would like to serve espresso-based coffees in your offices, such as cappuccino and lattes then a note of caution – you really need to be prepared to invest in the best equipment for the job. It’s a very exact science and impossible to produce coffee shop standard espresso with anything less than a commercial grade machine. For that reason I would strongly advise against the type of small espresso machines you see in department stores, you would be better choosing one of the above options or just taking your clients out to a good coffee shop that knows what they’re doing – no espresso is better than bad espresso.
If you are prepared to invest in espresso equipment, then you need to choose either traditional or bean-to-cup espresso machines. If you want to make a statement La Marzocco is the Ferrari of traditional coffee machines, and a GS/3model will set you back around £4,700. Add a good grinder, send your receptionist to us for some barista training and you will be serving coffee-shop standard coffee in no time! Alternatively a less labour intensive option would be to go clean, automated and simple with a Swiss-built HGZ bean-to-cup machine such as the Rex Royal s300 (starting at £5200 per unit). If you are considering this level of investment please contact our sales team and we can advise you on lease options and service plans to make this cost manageable and ensure your office coffee solution is world class.
Regardless of which brewing method you choose for your business it’s essential to buy high quality, freshly roasted coffee beans. There are a number of really good roasters in UK & Ireland offering this service online, and you can sign up to subscription services to receive a regular selection of coffees delivered to your door. Get a good burr grinder and an aeropress and experiment with different kinds of beans to find what you like. We currently have some exceptional single origin coffees from the current crop, together with a range of our own signature espresso blends. Best to try a range of our beans, and also compare roasters to decide which best suit your taste preferences. We roast our coffees a little lighter than the bigger commodity roasters, as we want you to taste the subtle notes each origin has to offer but still with intensity and complexity of flavour, so best to enjoy our coffees without sugar or milk first.
Special Offer for NI Business Now readers: Use promo code NIBN20 when checking out at www.bailiescoffee.com for 20% off! (Offer valid until 31/10/14)
Bailies Coffee is a Belfast-based artisan coffee roaster that has amassed a string of over 32 gold stars at the Great Taste Awards in recent years, and supplied coffee to former Irish Barista Champions, Irish Latte Art Champions, and the reigning Irish Aeropress Champions (Coffee Angel, Dublin). For more information on Bailies Coffee for your business, visit www.bailiescoffee.com