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Britain is a nation of tea lovers – we’re famous for it! However, we’ve also fallen in love with coffee in a big way, with 70 million cups of coffee consumed in the UK daily. Accepting this demand, how can operators carve out their own niche in the marketplace, thereby driving profitability and customer loyalty? Here are Take Stock’s recommendations…

Making the Most of your Coffee

Decide how you’re going to brew your coffee

• Take into account the space you have available, budget, and how much your customers are willing to pay.
• Speed and volume – there are several top quality instant solutions, like Azera, enabling you to offer Americano, Latte, Cappuccino and various other coffees, by just adding hot water and milk.
• Filter coffee – a great smell and once dripped through, quick and easy to serve.
• Cup solutions – more and more brands are offering this option, as you would find in a vending machine. Kenco’s new Caffe Latte in their 2GO range for example.
• Bean to cup machines – the range of semi and fully automatic machines is increasing. At the press of a button and with little staff training, you can prepare and serve Barista quality coffee.
• Capsule machines – Nespresso and Nescafé-Milano machines provide the opportunity to compete with coffee shops.
• Barista model – gives customers the full café experience.

Instant coffee solutions

• Choose the best quality coffee that’s appropriate for your audience. Taylors, Nescafé and Kenco are brands your customers know and trust.
• Coffee drinkers enjoy choice, so consider extending your standard coffee offerings to include the top sellers which are Espresso, Cappuccino, Americano and Latte.

Automatic

• Talk to your supplier about the range of coffees available and experiment until you’ve found your top sellers.
• Install a water filter to your automatic supply – coffee tastes so much better without contaminants like chlorine.
• Always use fresh milk.
• De-scale your machines regularly and keep them clean.

Bean

• Offer at least a medium and high roast bean. There are decaffeinated beans available too!
• If you choose to do your own grinding, do it little and often in a burr grinder.
• Coffee and coffee beans go stale, so keep sealed and out of sunlight.
• Make sure the water is the correct temperature for the equipment – 96°C is the optimum temperature for filters; 88-94°C for an Aeropress. Never use boiling water – it burns the coffee.
• Use the right amount of coffee – 60g per litre of water is a good ratio.
• Use fresh milk, and if hot, make sure it’s well foamed.

Coffee menu

• Offer your customers a choice. Begin small and develop your offering using customer feedback and experimentation.
• Have a specials board.
• Understand the provenance of your beans – Fairtrade and ethically sourced are important draws to drinkers.
• Talk to local suppliers about creating a blend that is exclusive to your outlet.

Serving coffee

• Serve coffee in the correct cup – a single espresso in a large cup looks terrible and can lose all heat before reaching the customer and the correct Cappuccino cup allows for easier decoration.
• Give a complimentary chocolate, mint or biscuit – eight out of 10 people* would expect a quality establishment to do so!
• Obtain customer feedback – is there anything they’d like you to do differently? Make sure your staff have tasted every option on your coffee menu and can tell customers about what’s available.
• Higher end coffees can be premium priced, especially if decorated. Many impressive looks are really easy to achieve – check out Latte art on YouTube.
• Offer sandwiches, pastries and cakes when the customer orders – and don’t forget to have gluten free and free from options.
• Offer alternatives when it comes to sweeteners. Tate & Lyle’s Agave Nectar syrup, made from the Blue Agave cactus plant, is a real talking point – and a wholefood too!

The next big thing(s)

• Coffee syrups are hugely popular in Europe and can be used to create fabulous tasting flavoured coffees. Check out the ranges and recipes from Teisseire and Tate & Lyle Sugars.
• Iced coffee is a current trend in the USA and is gaining in popularity here. Have options on your menu!

Making the Most of Tea

Decide how you’re going to brew

• Use filtered water – elements like chorine and fluoride impact upon taste.
• Make sure the water is the right temperature or you’ll burn the leaf.
• For normal tea and infusions, use water that’s just off the boil – 95-98°C is perfect.
• Water for white or green teas should be at 70-75°C.
• Brewing time is crucial: 3-4 minutes for normal teas and infusions. 1-2 minutes for green and white teas.
• Consider investing in a water boiler with temperature settings for speed and consistency.
• Use the right amount of tea – ask your supplier for the optimum ratio.
• Use fresh milk, and offer hot or cold.

Tea menu

• Offer a choice of teas in either tea bag, or for a premium feel, loose leaf.*
• Top selling black teas are Tetley Original, PG, Twinings English Breakfast and Yorkshire Tea.*
• Top speciality teas are English Breakfast and Earl Grey.*
• Green tea is showing the most growth.*
• Infusions are also seeing significant growth, especially peppermint and lemon & ginger.*
• Provide a decaffeinated option.
• Create a bespoke tea menu, with details of blend, provenance, taste and serving options e.g. with lemon; hot or cold milk; straight.
• Consider regular guest blends.
• Extend your range to include chai and iced teas. Use syrups to create iced tea ‘cocktails’ – check www.tasteandsmile.com for recipe ideas.

Sources: UK Tea & Infusions Association & OHSO Chocolate

Staff training

• Make sure your staff know about every tea on your list, including their provenance.
• It is important that staff have tried every tea and know how it should be served.
• Develop a chart for perfect water temperature and brew times for every option so staff can quickly check while preparing.
• Keep teas away from light in airtight tins until use.

How to serve

• Provide your customers with a menu of teas – it demonstrates you’re serious about the subject.
• Use china teapots and high quality cups or glasses for serving – serve with extra hot water, regardless of whether the customer asks. It will make them feel they are getting their money’s worth.
• Don’t forget many customers like their tea in a mug – so have these available too.
• Serve tea with a complimentary biscuit (gluten free optional).
• Offer a takeaway cup – this will bring in takeaway trade as well as dine-in.
• Offer a food pairing option – especially in the quieter mid afternoon slot.

The next big thing

• Tea Fusion – an innovative tea solution that gives tea shops something with the same theatre as a barista type coffee machine. Designed to get the most out of the tea leaf, the system brews loose leaf teas and infusions in a back-lit glass chamber that lets customers see the leaves ‘dance’. There’s a choice of 12 different high quality teas and infusions to choose from. Trials have seen operators experience double digit sales growth. Visit www.teafusionbylipton.co.uk

“Tea virgin cocktails can make a great addition to your menu. Mix Earl Grey tea with orange juice to create a zingy, refreshing drink, or pair green tea with mint for a take on the popular
mojito.” Isabelle Haynes, Tetley senior brand manager – OOH

Click here for the Hot Caramel Apple Tea recipe

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