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
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources