Barista Magazine

APR-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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"WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?" is a common question in my house—especially on days off, after we've enjoyed the first cups of home-brewed coffee and are ready to go out for more. Preferably, the next stop involves no time restrictions, copious amounts of pro- tein, and good fellowship. (And maybe a Bloody Mary.) This day-of-rest ritual typically requires at least two stops: One for the coffee, and one for food. Although there are a handful of places in my home- town that execute both coffee and food well, most spots typically lead with one or the other. Restaurants focus on great food but serve mediocre (at best) coffee, while even top-notch cafés seem content to stick with soggy croissants and uninspired tidbits. We can rant about bad coffee in restaurants all day, but for now let's con- sider why more cafés don't bother with a food program that parallels their coffee service. In an industry full of genre-breaking and envelope-pushing, why aren't we seeing leading coffee companies innovate themselves through a high-quality food program? There are plenty of excuses we can give about why cafés can't make great food happen: space, equipment costs, talent, consistency, narrow focus—but don't all of those concerns sound familiar to the challenges we face in the running of high-quality coffee programs? I'm admittedly no expert on food execution. Most of my professional background has been focused on help- ing with customer development and encouraging sound business operations for coffee service—not cooking or baking. Since starting at Kaldi's Coffee two years ago, I've been afforded the opportunity to work in a café set- ting that offers a full food and bakery menu, all made in-house. Although this extended program can certain- ly present many challenges and risks, the areas of po- tential are quite inspiring. Instead of asking questions like, "Why are we doing this?" we ask, "How can we do this better?" We are always asking what our custom- ers expect from us, and how to best educate and inspire our team to deliver a more perfect union of coffee and food—questions any coffee business with an interest in upping its food ante should ask. Alongside my role with Kaldi's and my travels around the globe, I've come to know that coffee and food can exist in perfect harmony, although this congruence is sadly seldom found. During the WBC this past sum- mer, I was blessed to find myself one afternoon enjoy- ing lunch at Proud Mary, a specialty-coffee roaster and full-service café in Melbourne, Australia. Knowledge- able servers, consistent presentation, across-the-board deliciousness, and effective marketing of whole-bean coffee—it was enlightening to see success in the mar- riage of both worlds, and to be immersed in a hospital- ity-focused culture. Not only that, but it was proof of what's possible. Whether it's a full food menu, or simply starting with an in-house bakery program, it's important to begin your venture into food with some critical thinking. Development and implementation of food programs in a café setting can BEAUTIFUL COFFEE BEAUTIFUL FOOD B Y M A R C U S B O N I 73 www.baristamagazine.com B o o k 5 5 - 8 8 . i n d d 7 3 Book 55-88.indd 73 3 / 1 9 / 1 4 1 0 : 0 9 P M 3/19/14 10:09 PM

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