Thursday, 11 August 2016

Kaffeine - The Guest Espresso Program rides again

Quite a long time ago, we started a guest espresso program on weekends, whereby we would take off decaf on our second grinder and order in and dial in a guest espresso from various roasters across the UK and Europe on a weekly basis. To start with, it worked very, very well and we ran it for approximately two years. However, over that time, we also started to realise that we had a few problems. I have addressed most of these in previous blogs, so I will not go into them here. As I did note in them though, there were certain benefits and certain problems with the entire process.

I am quite open to being told that what we have done now is what we should have done originally or at least a long time ago, in fact a few people already have, but that's okay, as an old boss used to say when he stuffed things up 'well we are where we are we are'. I also admit I am not an expert specialty barista, with loads of knowledge about coffee or new equipment and I cannot keep up with all the many writings and informations on equipment or techniques, just like I am not a superstar chef with loads of knowledge about food, and I am quite comfortable with this too. What I think I do know is a little but about hospitality and a little bit about business operations and a little bit about listening to advice and acting appropriately.

Our current lead baristas Sam and Dan as well as previous baristas in Bianca, Jakub, Shaun etc have been pushing for us to invest in an EK43 for ages. I have been reluctant. The EK made a lot of news, a lot of headlines and a lot of discussions. In fact,  as an example, James Hoffman and Dale Harris wrote extensively on the issue of EK43's.

In fact, there is lots and lots to read on it, a lot of it captured here by Sprudge.

One of the main points that was easily picked up on here was 'do not rush into this as a silver bullet'. But time has passed, and I feel that the purchase and the use of this grinder has finally justified itself.

Over the past six months or so, we started again at looking into it. We did quite a lot of research, made lists of negatives and positives, consulted with Square Mile coffee and eventually have now invested in an EK43 for each shop. We have taken off our Anfim grinders that we used maybe twenty times a day for decaf and installed the EK in its place. I also watched a very good Tamper Tantrum video on the benefits of the EK43 by Rob Berghmans form Caffenation. I was finally convinced.

We will now be starting our guest program again, just that this time it will be different. We will run a guest for an entire calendar month. We will have the words 'guest espresso' on our printed menu on the walls, we will be training the FOH staff to be informing the customer when they order a short drink that we have a guest on offer. We will all know the guest characteristics, so when we deliver it or get asked about it we can answer with confidence and we will have retail bags on sale for take home. It is not really designed to be on for milk based drinks, though of course you can try it if you like, but more specifically for espresso or short drinks only. Because we are running it for approximately a month, we will not have to try and 'get rid of it' over the weekend. We will be able to play with it over time, dial in and experiment the flavour profiles and extractions.

In order to get to this stage, the lead baristas will be responsible to talk amongst their staff about what great roasters we should profile, they will contact them at least a month earlier, request any samples and once received, will cup them and assess them with as many staff as possible to gain feedback and also to train palettes.

We will have decaf available as well of course, pre-portioned into those little metal jewellery containers and also very importantly we will also start to be able to grind coffee for retail sales, something we have never really done before.

In order to track how the program goes, I can look at the past 12 months of sales and be able to compare them in another six or twelve months. For example over the past year at Great Titchfield street, double espresso have made up 2.64% of our total coffee drinks whilst single espresso make up 1.68%. This is only on Square Mile Red Brick. I am looking forward to being able to look back again and see if sales of espressos have increased, decreased or remained static.

What is for certain though, is that it has created great excitement amongst all the staff who work here, which of course was the main problem when we took it off. We will now be further challenged, our palettes will be further enhanced, we will be able to show off our skills and knowledge with even more pride and enthusiasm and really get behind some of the amazing single origin espresso that are available these days.

Of course we will cost our coffees out and work how much extra a double shot of espresso may cost including postage and shipping and we will sell the espresso at 'market price', so they may be an extra 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 pence per shot. This will allow us to bring in coffees up to £30 a kilo and have a pricing mechanism that works for the business and reflects the price of the coffee fromm the roasters.

We will start with the Koppi Bildiimoo Local Heirloom from the Gora Fone washing station in Nensebo, Ethiopia. It is a fully washed coffee, with tasting notes from Koppi of nectarines, jasmine and rhubarb. We are currently working on our guest calendar and if you are a roaster reading this, we do welcome your contact.

It is something we are all very excited about and we think is a new stage in Kaffeine. We hope you can join us.

In coffee we trust.

Peter Dore-Smith
Kaffeine Ltd