Beverages: Local Connection

Operators partner with nearby roasters for customized coffee programs.

Published in FSD Update

Mass-produced coffee is falling out of favor, and fast. Now customers want local, sustainable options roasted fresh. So it’s no surprise many operators are partnering with local roasters. Take the University of Rochester, in New York, which has teamed up with three local roasters: one café partnered with Coffee Connection (a not-for-profit roaster that provides employment training for women in recovery from addiction), while its convenience store offers Joe Bean Fair Trade, organic coffee and another shop serves Finger Lakes Coffee. 

“Each vendor has its own focus,” says Andrea Vanpelt, assistant food service director with Aramark. “Coffee Connection is about the cause, rather than the coffee, while Joe Bean is very big into artisanal brewing, single sourcing and letting the coffee speak for itself. Finger Lakes Coffee is very popular in town, so we brought them on for the brand recognition.”

Not only do customers love the variety, but they also often prefer the taste of the coffee, she says. That’s something customers at WellSpan York Hospital can relate to. The hospital, in York, Pa., recently partnered with New Grounds Roasting Co. to supply 100% Arabica bean coffee. “I wanted to offer a better cup of coffee,” says Steven Ferguson, manager of food & nutrition services. “Serving locally roasted and freshly ground coffee would be an improvement over coffee that had been roasted who knows when, ground, packaged and in a box on a shelf for months.” 

The Valley Hospital, in New Jersey, joined forces with Barrie House Coffee and Garden State Gourmet for its drip coffees, which are roasted the same week as delivery. Not only do they offer dozens of different blends and flavors, but Steven Bressler, retail services manager, is also in talks with Garden State about creating a custom coffee brewed exclusively for the hospital to produce an additional revenue stream. 

Coffee challenges

“When you work with a small roaster, their challenges become your challenges,” says Vanpelt, who recommends choosing companies that have a strong business footing. 

Valley’s Bressler looks to good customer service. “We’ve only been able to sustain our 20-year partnership due to the excellent customer service we have received. [Find someone] who is willing to spend the time with your account, [like when impromptu deliveries are needed when demand is high].” 

Without hefty freight and delivery expenses, the cost decreases, though the beans can be more expensive with smaller roasters. That said, there are additional ways to increase sales with the local connection. Vanpelt and Ferguson bring in local roasters for samplings, brewing classes and coffee talks, while Bressler sends out hospitalwide emails about the Iced Coffee of the Week and the Flavor of the Day to boost interest.  

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sam kass peter romeo

We’ve heard it time and again—millennials are extremely conscious about what they eat. They want to know what is in their food, where it is from, how it was made and more. And, as we’re learning, Gen Zers are even more aware and information-demanding about the food they eat than their older counterparts.

Hitting those higher-quality food standards is no easy feat. But it’s becoming a must, said chef Sam Kass—known for being the White House chef for the Obamas, a senior White House policy advisor on nutrition policy while he cooked, and currently the senior food analyst for NBC News...

Sponsored Content
chicken veggies recipes

From Tyson Food Service.

With operators becoming increasingly strapped for time and labor, it’s a strain to prepare every aspect of a menu item back-of-house or keep the menu populated with a variety of options. While it doesn’t mean they have to cut corners when developing new items, operators can use more versatile items that are simple enough to apply across the menu to save on labor and cost as well as be more efficient.

With versatile proteins, operators can increase menu opportunities without kitchen complexity, and drive new customer traffic or increase the number...

Industry News & Opinion

An audit into Kennesaw State University’s dining services revealed the university accrued roughly $2 million from off-campus students paying for meal plans as part of their semester fees, according to a report by Fox 5 Atlanta .

Meal plans at the Kennesaw, Ga., university are automatically assessed to students whether they live on campus or not. The university does not refund unused meals, draining the pockets of commuter students each semester.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we pay all this tuition and then we’re here paying another big fee,” commuter student Emmanuel...

Industry News & Opinion

As part of a 10-year contract to run Eastern Michigan University’s foodservice, Chartwells will invest $5 million in the Ypsilanti, Mich., university, as well as provide it with $18 million in capital improvements, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press .

The university’s board of regents approved the contract on Tuesday, citing the new revenue as an opportunity to expand and improve campus foodservice. EMU’s website indicates the partnership will allow for more student input as well as the introduction of food trucks and improved technology.

“The primary reason...

FSD Resources