Nine ways to up your coffee service game

A self-diagnosed coffeeholic, one of the important elements in my evaluation of a property is their coffee service, both within the guestroom and at any restaurant outlet. Given this beverage’s significance in everyday life, it’s a definite no-no for a hotel that cuts corners in its procurement and preparation of this brown elixir. Hardly a drug, though, coffee is not only big business but an aspect of our culture that continues to evolve.

To witness this evolution, look no further than guests’ expectations for a property’s in-room coffee and tea service. Within the past decade, we’ve seen a migration from metal foil sachets to Keurig, Nespresso and a host of other machines capable of delivering a more flavorful and bespoke experience. Most hotel restaurants offer barista levels of service with cappuccinos, lattes and espressos the norm along with a few custom creations in tune with the local market. Even the by-the-gallon foodservice grinds found in a breakfast buffet are far better than they ever used to be.

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

Thinking of coffee as more than just a direct – and highly profitable – revenue stream, it’s also a point of pride for a hotel as well as a prominent contributor to a great guest experience. After all, what hotel wants to be known for having a lousy brew? What hotels want former guests to shine them in a negative light because their coffee service was subpar?

I’ve attended conferences where the coffee was so awful that delegates were slipping out to the lobby Starbucks. While being average may have negligible impact, bad beverage service will be immediately noticed. Contrarily, offering something exceptional may turn that 4-star review on TripAdvisor into a 5.

Look at improving your coffee as just another way of building your reputation as the best property in your trading area. With so much at stake for this often-overlooked aspect of your food and beverage operations, here are ten new rules for coffee in your establishment.

How to raise the coffee experience

  1. Recognize that coffee is critical to your property’s success in all its forms and at all your venues. No one cares if you don’t have an incumbent coffee culture – your guests do, and that’s what’s important.
  2. Taste the coffee in your restaurant and catering venues. If your local McCafé or Starbucks is better, you’ve got a problem.
  3. Coffee cannot be reheated – you have 30 minutes from the time it was brewed before the flavor profile is irreversibly sullied.
  4. With an in-room coffee machine, you can give guests a great start to their day for about a hundred bucks a room. Yes, coffee capsules have a markedly higher cost. Suck it up and find cost savings elsewhere.
  5. All your restaurant outlets should offer more than just coffee. Machinery to produce espresso-based drinks is inexpensive and, with proper training, easy to use.
  6. Clean all your coffee equipment daily at a minimum so that the repugnant soot never builds up. Check brewing temperatures, which can increase the ‘burnt’ taste profile of the product in addition to altering the sugars in milk.
  7. Experiment with different suppliers. Taste samples early in the day and ask your staff members for their opinion, too. Coffee selection and menu additions can be a good opportunity for team participation.
  8. There has been a marked improvement in the processing of decaffeinated coffee. For this, you must ensure that your ‘low test’ matches ‘high test’ in quality.
  9. Differentiate by examining the aesthetics of the experience – mugs, cups, saucers, serving utensils, room décor, menu design and nearly anything else to boost the ambiance. See what your budget can spare for something out of the ordinary.

Having sat through numerous budget, procurement and operational meetings, I’ve never heard a controller complain that too much was being spent on coffee!