For proof of Britain’s passion for hot drinks, look no further than the furor sparked by the launch of Marks & Spencer’s Magic Coffee.
Describing it as the “biggest news in coffee since the launch of the flat white,” the retailer announced this month that it has trained 1,000 of its cafeteria baristas to brew the drink exclusively for its 300 in-store coffees. Made with a double ristretto (a concentrated espresso), the drink is topped with steamed milk and served in a 6 oz. glass or mug, making it smaller than a flat white.
M&S wasn’t the only one enthusiastic about the drink, as it made headlines in national newspapers and gained a lot of attention on social media.
Clearly, there is a huge opportunity for bakers to embrace this passion for the bean, but what does it take to delight coffee fans?
Coffee offers great profit potential if handled correctly
Max Herbaut, national sales and training manager for coffee machine maker La Cimbali, says he’s currently seeing a lot of interest from operators who haven’t considered the potential of coffee before because the focus has been on baked goods.
“But your business may have evolved through the pandemic and the competition is fierce on the high street,” he adds. “This has led many to look for additional sources of income and coffee offers great profit potential if managed correctly.”
In fact, cafeteria and cafeteria consultant Andrew Bowen says that margins on hot drinks should be around 85% or higher.
What equipment is needed?
Consumers have become picky when it comes to their coffee and with so many options on the high street, bakers are advised to invest in professional equipment.
At the most basic level, coffee machines fall into two camps: a traditional machine that requires specialized skills, and a fully automatic machine that does much of the work of a trained barista.
“I would recommend a fully automatic machine if the bakery doesn’t want to invest too much in training,” Bowen suggests.
He points out that using a fully automatic machine, sometimes referred to as a bean-to-cup machine, means a company won’t have to invest in a separate grinder, knock box (to knock the ground coffee), or carafe wash. .
Cimbali supplies four sizes of automatic bean-to-cup machines, from an entry-level one suitable for making 150 cups a day to one that produces 600 cups a day.
“These machines use fresh milk and freshly brewed coffee beans, so customers enjoy the aroma of fresh coffee as it moves through the bakery,” says Herbaut, adding that traditional espresso machines such as the M26 series from Cimbali, offer “exceptional quality” but require a trained team of baristas to operate.
“We work with clients to identify the best solution for them, one that helps them achieve the most lucrative revenue while delivering great-tasting coffee,” he explains. “We then looked at how to achieve maximum operational efficiency through workflow optimization, minimizing waste, and driving maximum sales from the menu.”
When it comes to financing a coffee machine, many businesses chose to buy outright rather than rent or lease a machine, finding it the most cost-effective solution.
“Different retailers work in different ways and it depends on the size of the investment,” says a spokesman for equipment provider Nisbets. “Sometimes rental can be arranged with a coffee reseller, but operators risk being tied to a specific coffee supply contract and repair contract.”
Bakers also need to factor in the cost of maintaining their machine, as a breakdown will not only affect billing, but can also send customers to a rival outlet.
Fully automatic machines will need maintenance at least once a year, says Bowen, though he recommends a service and water filter change every six months, adding that the cost of the service is between £500 and £700 per visit.
According to La Cimbali, 60% of coffee machine breakdowns are due to poor equipment maintenance.
“To avoid the additional costs associated with emergency calls, in addition to the potential loss of revenue, it is important that operators make regular cleaning and maintenance checks part of the daily routine,” advises Herbaut. “This will not only help minimize the risk of machine breakdowns, but will also help deliver quality beverages.”
The Cimbali recommends:
- For bean to cup models, regular short machine washes during the working day: every 30 minutes in high-traffic locations and at least three times a day. A full wash at the end of the workday typically takes ten minutes and provides the extra “deep clean” needed for best practice.
- For milk systems, he encourages baristas to adopt the mantra ‘purge/steam/wipe/purge’, constantly rinsing to remove condensation and stale milk while wiping down the steam arm with a sanitized cloth. At the end of the day, the nozzle should also be unscrewed from the steam arm and soaked in lukewarm water for optimal hygiene and cleanliness.
“We advise customers to consider service and maintenance contracts as an essential part of new equipment purchases and ensure annual charges are budgeted for,” adds Herbaut.
Staff training is also vital for companies looking to offer quality hot beverages. While automatic machines can be operated with minimal tutoring, training a barista to operate a traditional machine can take months of work.
Machine manufacturers often offer training that will cover aspects such as operation, cleaning and maintenance.
Herbaut suggests that whether you opt for a traditional or bean-to-cup machine, staff will benefit from training from the machine builder.
“Fully trained staff are likely to be more engaged, delivering better quality drinks to a consistent standard and therefore helping to create a much better coffee experience for the customer,” he adds.
After selecting a machine and making sure staff can operate and maintain it, bakers will need to decide which beverages to offer customers.
It is important to have a basic range of the most popular drinks, for example, a basic espresso and Americano, as well as milk-based recipes such as lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and flat whites. A selection of teas is also recommended, along with a quality hot chocolate.
“Adding seasonal drinks is straightforward, since it’s mostly a different syrup, like gingerbread or pumpkin,” suggests Bowen, adding that offering cold or icy drinks in the summer is a great opportunity, though this requires additional equipment. .
“I would add a few blenders to produce these cold drinks, which account for 50% of sales in the summer, and you’ll also need an ice machine to do this properly.”
Adding to this is that while Marks & Spencer has made a lot of noise with its Magic Coffee, there are plenty of ways a baker can cast a spell on customers with a quality hot beverage offering.