Every restaurant benefits from the value-added commerce of coffee to attract and retain customers. And as the general population once again looks outside the home to purchase food, beverages, and make social connections, now is the time for restaurants to upgrade or create a robust coffee program in order to solidify a brand’s standings as a go-to coffee destination and drive sales.
Coffee is a staple of any menu—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—not to mention midday or after-hours pick-me-ups. A top-quality coffee program not only makes a restaurant competitive, but it also makes a brand an experiential destination that can capture every demographic by targeting all the different dayparts.
“In many cases for consumers, coffee finishes off a meal,” says Tracy Genter, commercial foodservice manager at SEB Professional. “In some segments, it can also complement the meal. A strong coffee and coffee program—especially those that also are related to a cause or that feature sustainable initiatives—can lend credibility to the restaurant, in addition to providing a nice taste profile to complement food.”
The key to sustaining a coffee program that benefits both the consumer and the bottom line is visibility, literally and figuratively. Seeing the machines and the brewing process while also building brand awareness around your coffee program can help a restaurant be seen as a go-to destination and create a positive impact on sales, the brand’s customer base, and community outreach.
For those restaurants that are introducing automation into their operations, bean-to-cup coffee machines have been a perfect fit. These machines brew coffee cup-by-cup from whole beans, eliminating the need for staff to brew new batches throughout the day. Not only does this cut down on a restaurant’s labor, but will also eliminate waste by brewing only the exact amount of coffee that is ordered.
Additionally, both Genter and Amy Brown, marketing manager of commercial foodservice at SEB Professional, stress the importance of using and being seen across media to spread awareness: website mentions, chef recommendations on blogs or chef pages, mentions on apps on the beverage page, or promoting combo deals with desserts, to name a few.
“In particular, we know younger generations use social media to interact with brands and to learn of new offerings from brands,” Brown says. “The younger generation is also savvy at spreading awareness via word of mouth and feedback online, heightening a brand’s sustained visibility factor.”
In the restaurant, Genter has a few recommendations on making customers aware of your coffee offerings. “I would recommend at least three visuals: a menu mention, a table tent or tabletop where appropriate, ‘walking the pot’ or the pot on the table, or a brewer (drip coffee) visible. Additionally, if the restaurant uses bean-to-cup equipment, the guest needs to see that too,” Genter says.
For restaurants that may be thinking of elevating their coffee program, the first step is deciding exactly what restaurant decision makers want to achieve with their coffee offerings. “Who is the target market and who are the current customers? What types of coffees do they drink? Once establishments understand coffee trends with the help of a partner like SEB Professional, restaurants can then determine if they are serving bean-to-cup coffees, espresso-based beverages, or both,” Brown says. “Then they can choose their beans, drink types, and their equipment, and how they can best market this program to their guests.”
Keep in mind, there are some misconceptions about coffee programs. With a partner like SEB Professional, restaurants can navigate these misconceptions. Genter says that “many restaurants believe coffee will prevent turning tables around quickly, that selling dessert and coffee might hurt their margins, that people don’t drink coffee with meals, or that they can get by with cheap coffee or old coffee brewers.”
The majority of guests appreciate coffee, either for its taste or for its see and be seen barista vibe, or both. “Consumers now are more educated than ever about good coffee programs, coffee, and taste profiles,” Genter says. “Guest satisfaction can be greatly enhanced by providing a good coffee program.”
Today’s highly selective coffee culture embodies a host of consumer beliefs, from the integrity of taste to the integrity of sustainability, all convincingly and strategically marketed to be seen. “Today’s market calls for top-quality beans, good throw weight and pack size, good brewers, and good staff with knowledge of the coffee descriptions,” Genter says. In a full-service restaurant, it is also helpful to have menu mentions of the coffee, complete with their sustainability profiles or causes. Additionally, a nice coffee cup fitting for the type of restaurant—think of the mugs in Another Broken Egg or Bonefish Grill, which both have great coffee cups appropriate for each concept and segment—or a refill program or pot on the table, such as at First Watch, where appropriate. Also, a staff incentive to suggestively sell coffee and dessert is a bonus.”
Indeed, “At SEB Professional, we know becoming a coffee destination is about more than just your coffee equipment. It’s about being a partner to our operators,” Brown says.
With offerings that span from bean-to-cup coffees, espresso based beverages, traditional drip coffees, and tea, Tustin, California–based SEB Professional is the global leader in coffee solutions, providing equipment from top-tier brands WMF, Schaerer, and Curtis. Together, these branded, best-in-class beverage programs can bring businesses into the modern era.
“A partner that comes equipped with the knowledge of the coffee industry and foodservice, and resources our operators need to create a custom coffee program that drives sales and becoming a coffee destination for consumers,” Brown says.
Coffee is here to stay, and with it, so is the unmistakable, built-in marketing charmer that patrons can smell a mile, or at least a block, away. “The aroma is always a bonus,” Genter says. “Customers love the smell of a freshly brewed coffee.”
To learn more about making your restaurant into a go-to coffee destination, visit the Curtis website.
By Jocelyn Winn