Here John Broad, barista training and development manager from the business-to-business division of British tea and coffee merchant Ringtons looks at the considerations Facilities Managers need to take into account when reviewing hot beverages facilities.
The first question which needs to be answered when looking at hot drinks provisions is the reason for the facility – primarily whether hot beverages are intended to boost income, or if they are to be a service to staff and others.
If hot beverage facilities are specified as an income stream, a decision on which equipment to install needs to be tailored to the venue’s individual use and available space. Options include stand-alone vending machines with coin payment, freestanding self-service coffee towers next to a catering or retail outlet to take payment, or a service-only facility within a manned catering outlet. The latter could comprise of hot water boiler, vending equipment or a full blow espresso machine with barista-trained operator. There are also self-service tower stations with card payment options to consider.
If drinks are to be available for free to staff and visitors the options for making and serving hot drinks are vast – ranging from more traditional kettles or water boilers in a staff kitchen to hot water flasks, self-service table top vending machines or even free standing towers / vending machines in staff areas. With so much choice on the market it’s sensible to seek assistance of an expert who could advise which option fits based on the use of the building, footfall, staff availability, space, existing catering and range of product to be sold.
Where an unmanned vending machine or coffee tower is installed a FM needs to decide whether the facility is managed in-house or with the help of a contractor. A fully managed service – whereby a third party stocks, cleans, maintains and handles cash – is a more expensive solution, but it is also the easier option which could be particularly beneficial where resource is tight, a number of sites are under a FMs remit and space is limited.
Alternatively internally managed equipment requires staff training (and staff presence in some instances), regular maintenance, stock management and ongoing replenishment. This option can result in a greater financial return, easier troubleshooting and more control over which beverages are served which in-turn offers a venue greater flexibility.
As one of the UK’s leading suppliers of tea, coffee, catering equipment, machinery and catering the greatest trend Ringtons Beverages has seen is greater demand for quality espresso bean and fresh tea on the go.
Substantial developments in vending machine equipment means the days of weak coffee and poor quality tea from plastic cups are well and truly over. Consumers are increasingly savvy – they know what makes a good cup of tea or coffee and expect quality wherever they are.
With this in mind, vending equipment today can include fresh beans or whole bean instant coffee, on-demand grinders, fresh milk, superior milk granules and great quality tea and infusions which mean hot beverages are increasingly being enjoyed on-the-go. Consumers are happy to pay a little more per cup for a better quality end result, which in time will more than make up for any initial output required to invest in equipment, ingredients and staff resource. With a take-away cup of tea or coffee costing as little at 15p to produce and average charge per cup tipping £1.50 there’s opportunity to be had by offering a great hot drink range.
Even if tea and coffee is free there’s a lot to be said for providing staff and visitors with a better quality drink – not only can it boost morale but if on-site facilities are good, staff are less likely to leave the building which in-turn reduces down-time. It also reflects well on a company who can impress visitors with a great cup of tea or coffee.
In addition to consumer tastes becoming more sophisticated, the hot beverage market has also diversified in recent years. While most Brits will opt for a traditional black tea (it makes up 80% of the whole tea market), figures show black tea is actually in slow decline and has been for a number of years. While Ringtons’ sales figures are better than national findings, and English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Assam remain top sellers, the company is also seeing more green tea and fruit and herbal infusions taking a chunk of the market; a trend which echoes national sales. To keep ahead of industry trends we recommend menus not only cover black tea but also include fruit and herbals and green teas and a decaf option.
When we look at coffee, again tradition dominates and black coffee is the biggest seller, but consumers now also expect to see a range of coffee options on the menu and as a minimum we recommend cappuccinos, lattes and filter coffee are available. Menus can be diversified by using syrups – an easy way to offer something new throughout the year at minimal cost and hassle.
Although coffee and tea tastes are diversifying there is always going to be demand for traditional coffee and black tea, so operators must ensure this remains a pivotal part of their offerings and the best way to sell this is to offer quality fresh tea and coffee. Although tea and coffee may seem like a small pointer, once equipment or services are installed, tea and coffee can be a great income generator and it can boost the overall experience of staff, a customer or visitors so it’s wise to invest carefully and provide a good standard of beverage options.
For more information on Ringtons Beverages go to www.ringtons.co.uk or call 0800 0461 444.