Who are your culinary grads of the future?

That answer and more at MenuDirections 2014 Kickoff Day: Sunday, February 23.

Published in FSD Update

Building a Better Coffee Program
Steve Schnitzler, CEO, Port City Java presented the workshop on coffee. Port City is the coffee provider for NC State University and has a Southeastern U.S. base/distribution. He gave attendees these pointers for creating a successful coffee program:

  • People know a lot about coffee these days as far as quality goes. Once you improve the quality of the coffee you provide, it’s hard to go backwards
  • Your guests are constantly evolving as are their expectations, so you must be evolving too. Customer expectations are higher than ever before; Starbucks set the bar
  • Quality of coffee is important for drip coffee too, not just specialty drinks
  • Serving coffee is only partly about the coffee; it’s also about building relationships with your guests. Provide hospitality rather than service—hospitality has to do with the people you serve. You can get service from an ATM or a vending machine, but you’re not going to get hospitality
  • Upping your coffee game is all about upping your people game. Employee training is key to providing hospitality; you can’t just call someone a barista, they need to be trained
  • Know your employees and build a relationship with them. It takes time and training, but it will pay off

For your coffee program:

  • Determine who you are trying to serve and what your guests’ needs are
  • Upping your coffee level will cost more, but it doesn’t have to be a lot of money
  • It takes one week of employee training to learn, one month to get good and six months or more to get really good
  • Water quality is important—whatever is in the water will get in the coffee
  • Look to your providers for more information about your coffee, if they can’t tell you where it’s from, then find someone who can

Schnitzler then gave attendees some background on the economics and cultivation of coffee:

  • Coffee matters so much today—it’s the second most-traded commodity behind petroleum and the third most-consumed beverage behind water and tea
  • Wine and coffee comparisons are getting to be more appropriate as they relate to variety and our need to grow a quality product
  • Coffee grows around the equator throughout the world, generally in second- and third-world nations that are war torn and economically unstable
  • Coffee must be shipped on a boat due to its weight
  • “Every cup of coffee is a $5, $6, $7 cup” due to what it takes to grow it
  • There is a lot to know to “up your coffee game”
  • Two types of coffee: Arabica and Robusta.
    • Arabica: costs more, grows at higher elevation, is harder to grow, provides a higher quality but less yield, handpicked
    • Robusta: costs less, grows at lower elevations, is easier to grow, provides a lower quality but higher yield, oftentimes machine picked
  • It takes four to seven years to produce a quality coffee from seedling
  • Coffee pricing is volatile—it is two times less today than last year
  • Coffee is generally handpicked for higher quality; you cannot have unripe beans in the mix and beans do not ripen off the plant
  • It takes four to five weeks to complete a harvest
  • Processing coffee produces a lot of fruit waste—in Costa Rica the waste is dried and used for tea; waste can be ground and mixed with water for use as fertilizer on the fields; waste can be dried and formed into bricks and used for fuel
  • Coffee has to rest for 30 to 60 days after being picked to reduce moisture levels—the U.S. has moisture maximums on coffee
  • Roasting: After a lot of roasting, it doesn’t really matter where the coffee is sourced from as you will begin to taste the roast rather than the bean; darker roasted has slightly less caffeine due to the roasting process
  • Producers need to be taken care of in order for future generations to continue coffee production as a viable way of living
    • Certifications help this: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic (third-party certifications)
    • Most coffee is grown organically, but not certified by a third-party, so it isn’t referred to as such

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

Ideas and Innovation
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

Menu Development
muse school produce

Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

FSD Resources