Espresso Blog

Food Allergies Bring Challenges & Opportunities to Restaurants and Cafés

Whether you run a casual cafe or an upscale restaurant, your customers' food allergies can bring you success, or even failure. You’re most likely seeing increasing requests for allergy-free offerings, as allergy issues are on the rise due to growing awareness of adverse reactions to shellfish, eggs, nuts, diary and wheat. But these hurdles can also be seen as opportunities to amp up your customer service and create repeat business at your restaurant or coffee shop.

“People with food allergies may be a small percentage, but they're still our customers,” said beloved Chicago-based chef Tony...

Coffee Expert Guesses Which Coffee is Expensive ... and Which One is Cheap

"Price Points" is an Epicurious video series that gives some great, snapshot insight into just how much restaurant goods cost—and why. In a recent episode, coffee expert Dillon Edwards of Parlor Coffee attempts to guess which of two coffees is more expensive, after examining, smelling and tasting them. Edwards also offers viewers insight into his methods for analyzing coffee, while also breaking down roasts (dark vs. light), and waxing poetic about processing, freshness, varietals and source.

Then, he examines and tests each coffee before guessing which one costs more. Once the coffee prices...

How To Tamp Espresso Like a Pro

If you want to make the best espresso, you’ll need to pack the perfect puck.

A good tamp creates resistance (with evenly compacted coffee) that makes the brewing water work hard to saturate the grounds and extract all of that great coffee flavor. The water pressure pulls oils from the grounds and creates the bold taste and rich texture your customers expect from a quality espresso.

But if the coffee grounds are loose and uneven, water will find the gaps and move through them instead of extracting flavor, and your brew will be watery and flavorless.

To avoid this, follow these easy steps....

Coffeehouse Management Skill #4: Attention to Detail

If you want your coffeehouse to reach its full potential, you need a healthy dose of obsession. It requires total awareness of your operation—when a glass is missing on a table, the trash is overflowing, or a staff member seems out of sorts—to keep customers coming back.

Managing details like these can turn your business from good to great. Of course you don’t want to take on everything—you want your staff to be empowered and accountable—but it takes setting the example and regularly communicating your expectations to assure quality and service don’t deteriorate.

Your staff needs to see that...

Rev Up Your Coffeehouse Marketing—and Your Profits

Coffeehouse marketing is all about letting people get to know you and the benefits you offer. 

In a way, your coffeehouse or restaurant is its own form of advertising. If you've got a good location—with plenty of drive-by or walk-by traffic—visibility may be enough to keep business humming along. But other than your brick-and-mortar address, how do you promote your business? And does your marketing message communicate your philosophy while giving customers good reasons to walk through your door?

If you market your coffee shop online or with flyers, cross promotion, or print ads, consider...

Video: Clean Your Espresso Machine!

You want a clean espresso machine, don’t you?
Third Rail Coffee in NYC has a great series of videos on all things espresso.
Here’s their down-and-dirty tutorial on cleaning an espresso machine: 

Coffeehouse Management Skill #3: Accountability

It’s difficult to hold other people accountable if you don’t hold yourself accountable. Good leaders know that culture is the result the behaviors they exhibit. Your team will always imitate the behavior they see from you.

If you don’t follow through on things you say you’ll do, your staff will remember. If you want them to be on time for work or deadlines, you’ve got to do the same. (Or, maybe being on time isn’t as important as you say it is.) Talk is truly cheap and actions are thee real representation of what you’re “saying.”

And accountability is not just about taking the blame when...

Coffeehouse Management Skill #2: Open Communication

A lot of coffeehouses are “good,” but not many are truly great. Great ones don’t tend to fail—and open communication with and among your staff can make you one of the great ones.

When you look at the core of problems at your shop—drama and chaos that can infect your business—you don’t have to look much farther than communication issues. Good managers go out of their way to communicate to their team, whereas loose expectations and assumptions can be their downfall.

Be sure you’re communicating with your staff in ways that will strengthen your business:

Provide context

Every employee comes to...

Coffeehouse Management Skill #1: Adaptable Leadership

Even with a strong U.S. economy, coffee shop owners would be doing themselves a disservice by dismissing key leadership skills as crucial to long-term success. Adaptable leaders in your business will help you weather tough times, and of course can help increase your profits when times are good.

Many cities have more than enough coffee shops and restaurants to choose from, making it easy for an eatery to go unnoticed for a while or lose business if service or food quality declines. And when the economy slows again, more establishments will have a hard time staying open.

When you’re up against...

Is Your Outdoor Seating Area Ready For Summer?

Did you know that adding outdoor dining space to your coffee shop can increase your profits by as much as 65%?

With numbers like these, it may be time to pick up a few café tables and invite customers to sip and dine on your sidewalk—or even build a patio or deck if you have the space.

Of course, lots of eateries have outdoor seating, so you’ll need to make yours stand out:

First, get your sidewalk café permit

Cities require businesses to obtain a permit to use sidewalk space. It’s generally well worth the cost—often less than $300 annually for enough space to accommodate 8-10 customers, or...

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