Top 10 tips for caterers looking to improve coffee offering

16/04/2019 - 08:29
Robert Robinson, Co-Founder of Notes Coffee, has provided contract caterers with his top 10 tips on menu, equipment and sourcing to ensure operators offer their customers the best possible experience to have them keep coming back for more.

Get your sizes right - less is more! The lighter roasts of speciality coffee allow the delicate and complex flavours of the single origin beans to shine, so having the right size and ratio of milk is essential. Stick to 12oz or smaller.

Milk still makes up most of the drink, so get the best you can.

We [Notes] use organic unhomogenised Guernsey milk. If that is not available go for an organic whole milk as standard, with a low fat option too.

But not everyone loves milk! The move to non-dairy options is not going away, so contract caterers need to make sure they have high quality non-dairy. And if possible, it is great to offer a high quality black filter coffee too.

The quality and quantity of the milk complementing the espresso is important, and so too is the temperature. At high temperatures the proteins which give milk its sweetness break down, so we advise contract caterers to steam to around 55-60 degrees. Some customers will ask for a hotter drink, and this should always be accommodated, but most will appreciate the drinkable temperature and sweeter finish.

Iced drinks don't need to be too complicatedBlended drinks are popular, but so too are coffees simply poured over ice. We like to give our iced latte a little texture by lightly steaming the milk before pouring over ice, and topping with a double espresso. If contract caterers can get a stick blender then an ice-cream based coffee shake is a great option too.

A water softener is essential - for two reasons. It ensures the coffee tastes the best it can, and it protects a contract caterer’s equipment.

Pricing - be transparent. A flat white should not be more expensive than a latte if it has the same number of shots!

Equipment - keep it clean and serviced. Daily cleaning ensures that the bright flavours in the coffee aren't dulled by burnt tastes from older shots. A contract caterer’s coffee roasting partner can help with regular equipment servicing, to ensure they get many years’ service from their coffee machine.

Training – contract caterers should never skimp on this. Latte art is not a luxury, it is essential to show their customers that the quality of the coffee in their cup is a cut above the rest. The contract caterer’s roasting partner should offer training.

It's all about the beans - so a big part of speciality coffee is close collaboration with the farmers who do amazing work nurturing their coffee plants. Notes work with farmers who care as much about getting the best from their crops as we do, and in return for their labour-intensive organic methods, we pay a fair price and support them in investing in improving their water systems and drying stations. Ethically sourced coffee is at the heart of what we do and buying direct allows us to build relationships with cooperatives and small-holders over many years. For contract caterers, this means we can offer full traceability - where, when and by whom their coffee was picked. 

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