Barista Magazine

APR-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 76 of 107

77 CUSTOMERS' EXPECTATIONS Baratavelle's Sam actually has found that offering fresh, deli- cious food in concert with fresh, delicious coffee has helped con- vey the importance and quality of both: "When I'm talking to customers about coffee, I always try to emphasize the fact that it's a fruit, that it is seasonal, that it is best picked ripe, and that doing so is a lot of work," he says. "I've found that all of this seems less abstract and geeky when I'm surrounded by beautiful food that is also at its peak freshness. Rather than distracting from the coffee program, I've found that our menu helps rein- force the ideas behind it." Beyond simply being a talking-point about tastiness and fresh- ness, having a strong in-house food program speaks to the busi- ness's commitment to the community, to quality, and of course to the customer. "Our menu at Blacksmith is a combination of inspi- rations local as well as abroad," says David Buehrer of Blacksmith Coffee in Houston, Texas. "A huge emphasis for us was offering a menu that stayed true to our 'hands-on' ethos—everything we can, we make in house—which is a common denominator in our food service as well as our coffee menu." Quality must always shine through, whether in the coffee or on the plate. Customers don't want half-baked brownies any more than they do half-brewed coffee. "Our loyal coffee customers bring with them an expectation of quality, and if we meet those expectations with our coffee program yet underwhelm them with our food program then we have ultimately diminished our brand and lowered the quality of their overall experience," says Juba- la's Andrew. David agrees: "Offering something that you don't believe in or is a second thought does not do any business justice. If you love food; understand that technique, product, and creativity go hand- in-hand; and are willing to do twice the work of a conventional café—well, then maybe food is good idea." OPENING CREATIVE DOORS Once you dip your toes in the proverbial waters of food prepa- ration and/or service alongside your coffee, there's no limit to the places that expansion can take you, creatively. Just ask Ian Watkins, the food director of Jubala in Raleigh: "The success of our food program has created some great opportunities for the business and the employees involved," he says. " Very soon we are going to be making several varieties of seasonal jams to be served with our fresh scratch sweet biscuits, made in-house every day. Our seasonal lattes are always a big hit and bring several repeat customers to the shop." Keeping the food philos- ophy in line with the coffee menu in terms of flavor, seasonality, and originality can be a cornerstone to the success and growth of your program. Ian also offers this advice: "To the shop [that] doesn't have the space to pump out lots of high quality food—welcome to the club! We have a fairly small kitchen space [at Jubala]…and we still serve hundreds of biscuits and waffles every week. Creativity is key, and it sometimes involves frustration from the less-than-ideal setup, but it is well worth it in the end. Seeing a customer's face light up when they take a drink of that perfect latte followed by an excellent biscuit or waffle is priceless." Sarah Allen and Erin Meister contributed to this article. B o o k 5 5 - 8 8 . i n d d 7 7 Book 55-88.indd 77 3 / 1 9 / 1 4 1 0 : 0 9 P M 3/19/14 10:09 PM

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