Food & Beverage

The great coffee debate…

A flat white coffee is uncomplicated and unpretentious, just like its inventor… who was an Aussie. Or was it invented in New Zealand?

This is the great coffee debate: it seems that it was either Melbourne or Auckland that came up with this particular coffee – smooth and silky with the perfect blend of bitter. Strike up a conversation with any Australian abroad and you will discover the obsessive quest for a ‘decent’ flat white. Finding a good coffee is indeed the nation’s quirk.

The flat white is enjoying new popularity in Britain and the United States, attributed not just to the demand from the number of Aussies and Kiwis travelling overseas, but also the many Australasians who work as baristas in cities like London and New York. While there is some debate as to the difference between a New Zealand flat white and the Australian version, coffee experts agree that the crux of the matter is to do with the ratio of coffee to milk.

It was a shock to global coffee chains like Starbucks when they failed to take off in Australia. They did not realise that there was a fully formed coffee scene already in place with very fussy customers – a nation of coffee snobs!

Coffee drinking here is a diehard national habit with specialist coffee roasters running the length of the country and real estate values improve whenever hipster coffee enthusiasts move into an area. The close proximity of hotels and accommodation to great cafe strips, world class baristas and local award-winning roasters has proven a huge marketing point.

coffee-beansThe ability to make coffee in hotel rooms across the globe is a convenience now taken for granted, even at the most budget chains. A kettle, a mug and an instant coffee serve is all that was once required but now guests possess a more refined coffee taste, spoiled by that talented barista down the road.

Do guests still want to stumble out of bed and reach for their morning coffee? Do in-room coffee offerings still stand a fighting chance? In our coffee-obsessed culture, can we do better? Thankfully there has been an attempt by accommodation providers to improve the quality of in-room coffee across the board with boutique properties especially highlighting local, more sustainable, organic roasts.

For those hotels that pride themselves on providing good quality “free” coffee as an amenity they are acknowledging their appreciation of the Australian coffee culture and how much it means to the nation.

A large proportion of guests need their morning coffee, and being able to make it in the room removes the need to shower first, but is this a better start to the day? Some will sacrifice the extra $3, and a five-minute walk to “real coffee” but most guests want a choice.

Adam Geneave is the vice president of customer experience for the Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim. He is responsible for growing customer advocacy by strategically leading each of Wyndham’s Asia Pacific business arms to be customer-focused. And, when it comes to choice, he agreed: “Everyone is different with a differing need when staying in a hotel. We absolutely recognise that many of our customers have a coffee machine at home and are used to waking up to a morning coffee in the home environment, while other customers prefer going to a barista or café. We want to serve the needs of both choices so believe the two choices complement each other as opposed to competing against each other.”

He concludes that it is essential to keep up with current trends, “In-room coffee machines are certainly on trend. There is a strong desire to be able to have a great coffee in the comfort of the hotel room, which we’re pleased to be able to offer at many of our properties and room types.

“It is an important aspect for our customers, in particular at locations where it may be difficult to source great coffee in walking distance to the hotel. We recognise our guests as individuals and many of our guests prefer to have barista quality coffee in the comfort of their own room.”

Adam Geneave-Wyndham Hotel Group SpokespersonFor Wyndham Hotel Group, offering a great coffee experience to their guests, “allows our guests the opportunity to enjoy a great quality coffee at any time of the day or night in the comfort of their own room, creating a more homely, comfortable and seamless experience”.

Mr Geneave added: “We have received great feedback from guests who stay at Tryp Fortitude Valley Hotel in Brisbane where we offer Vittoria coffee machines in every room. Guest comments tell us that the in-room coffee quality is exceptionally good. The feedback we have received indicates that many guests consider it to be a fantastic extra touch that adds to their overall enjoyable hotel stay.”

We asked James (Jimi) Kennedy-Grant the general manager for sales and marketing from Health Pak, a company with over 50 years’ experience and a leading supplier of guest toiletries and amenities to hotels, motels and airlines, if he has noticed any trends in what guests want from their in room coffee options.

In line with general consumer trends, guests are demanding socially responsible and ethically sourced options. He told us: “Apart from an increase in overall variety we have definitely seen a dramatic increase in demand for our One Fairtrade range in the last few years, as our customers see benefits of offering a more ethically responsible option for teas and coffees.

“This has meant we have had to quickly expand our range to include a much larger fairtrade selection of teas, specialty teas, instant and plunger coffees, drinking chocolate and sugar to meet with demand. The great thing is that the type of properties requesting fairtrade are across the board, from small boutique family owned properties, to the bigger players like the Alex Perry Hotels and Apartments who have recently chosen to go completely fairtrade for their in-room beverages.

“Apart from the obvious ethical reasons, the other real benefit the properties get is the guest response and feedback they give when they see it. There are so many environmental statements and accreditations in the marketplace, but this is a really tangible and visual option that guests immediately relate to and appreciate when they see it.”

AMG53-Healthpak DisplayHotel managers need to inspire their increasingly well-travelled guests, with brands that stand out and get them noticed. Mr Kennedy-Grant advised: “We do this by producing locally designed and packaged products, but also through offering added value like fairtrade. As well as standing out, the quality of the product is paramount and we ensure the products contain good quality ingredients.

“Managers should check that their supplier knows about the products and where the ingredients have been produced and sourced and they should always try the products for themselves. They also need to offer a good selection of beverage products, to cater for all tastes. Sometimes thinking outside the square, offering something different, can have a big impact on the customer experience.

“An example of this is our ‘Squash’ orange drink sachets which offer the guest a cold drink option as one in 10 guests that don’t like hot drinks. This costs no more than a coffee sachet, but has much more impact when a guest notices you have gone to a little extra thought.”

TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel Brisbane - ExteriorHow the coffee options are displayed in the room can make or break the guests overall first impression and ruin their whole experience. So, “It is important that the display looks appealing, when you have gone to all the effort of supplying a great product and so we offer display options free to anyone who uses our products for this very reason. The more positive feedback a property gets the more likely they are to keep using the products. We offer a comprehensive selection of display options to present our ranges at their best,” Mr Kennedy-Grant told us.

He added: “Health Pak has the benefit of being a manufacturer so we are not restricted by the products we can offer and consequently have a vast range of tea and coffee options from premium to speciality teas as well as a full selection of instant coffee and fresh coffee, chocolate drinks and cold drink options. All our products are made and/or packaged by us within our factory meaning we have control over every aspect of quality from the tea planation we source from to the coffee roaster that produces our plunger coffee. As a manufacturer we also custom-produce many beverage solutions for properties that may have their own individual requirements for catering or in-room supplies. Our teas are all packaged in 100 percent degradable packaging.”

Australians are hardly true aficionados like the Italians or the French but Australian coffee culture is influenced by the large number of Italian immigrants who moved to Australia many years ago and so Australian coffees are based on excellent espresso, which is extracted by an espresso machine, like in Italy.

AMG53-Healthpak-orange-squashMr Geneave from Wyndham advised: “Coffee machines are becoming more of an expected offering in hotels, in particular in boutique and city properties. We see a strong desire from our customers to have these available.” Australians have discerning palates!

Yardley Hospitality is a leading supplier to the industry and has seen every trend and development. Their specialty within the industry is their understanding of what the industry needs and their unique ability to fulfil those needs. Paul Yardley from Yardley Hospitality told us that: “Guests are continuing to look for convenience and ease in their espresso making. This is seen through the power of the capsule market in the domestic market. Guests, however, are seeking a better espresso solution within their room like they now enjoy at home.

Therefore, when deciding what coffee experience managers should offer their guests, he advised: “They should consider capsule machines that have the unique ability for guests to use a variety of capsule coffee brands.”

A multi-capsule solution comes with a range of capsule holders that cater for the different sized capsule systems.

BarmanYardley Hospitality can provide a range of machines. “The major capsule systems are Nespresso, Lavazza Modo Mio, Caffitaly and Expressi. CM2000 Sunbeam multi-capsule coffee machine – a multi-capsule machine with the ability to use any of the four major capsule solutions. This machine has the convenience of a capsule machine but also the flexibility to use a variety of different capsule brands/systems,” Mr Yardley noted.

Shamsi Rock is the manager from Coffex that has more than 50 years of experience in the coffee industry. Regarding the current trends in coffee, she agreed: “In my experience, as the Australian and New Zealand palate continues to refine, the quality of in-room coffee has in turn continued to improve. One of the biggest trends in in-room coffee is the capsule machine, I think we will see more and more of these as they become more readily available and cost effective. One thing that concerns people about capsule machines is the waste created by individual packaging, so I think we will see more biodegradable options coming onto the market.”

Giving guests great coffee options is important though, so she offered: “You can’t go past a good quality plunger coffee, its simple to use and cost effective and the customer gets to go through the ritual of opening the packet, smelling the coffee, watching the coffee brew and separate before pushing the plunger down. I think that even as tastes change there will always be a call for hotels to stock instant coffee, which is still by far the biggest type of coffee consumed in New Zealand and Australia.

“I think managers need to consider who their core guests are if they are booking mostly corporate guests, groups or families. They may want to consider if many of them have breakfast, if not they may want

AMG53-Healthpak to offer a takeaway coffee as they leave, focusing on making their restaurant espresso coffee really spectacular. It’s also worth considering that different nationalities have different tastes when it comes to coffee.”

“At Coffex we have more than 50 years of experience in the coffee industry and carry a full range of in-room beverage products, as well as bulk filter and espresso equipment and coffee. We also have a certified fairtrade organic range.”

In the words of Adam Geneave, “Everyone is different with a differing need”, so when it comes to providing coffee options for your guests you need to consider the type of guests you cater to and what they need. You may also want to consider what coffee is offered either in or near your property.

The message is – there are plenty of great options available on the market for you to choose from. It might be instant coffee sachets, fairtrade and organic coffee, plunger coffee or capsule/coffee machines but the emphasis must always be on offering a high quality product that is presented in the most appealing way. Coffee is a great way to court your guests and get them returning to their favourite accommodation. Remember guests want your coffee options to be amazing but they also expect it to be free.


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