How to introduce single origin coffees to your café menu

Single origin

Mocopan Coffee’s Babin Gurung on how to introduce single origin coffees to your café menu, and why education and transparency are key to making it a profitable addition. 

Introducing single origin coffee to your menu is a great way of adding variety and keeping things exciting for your regular customers. Single origin in its simplest term means coffee sourced from one location. This could be a country of origin, a region, an estate, or a micro lot, all of which can have a big impact on how the coffee is grown, harvested, and processed. Ultimately, this will give coffee its distinct flavour and characteristics. This is different to blended coffee where the goal is to create consistency and uniformity in flavour, something that works well for milk-based coffees. So, a good starting place for adding single origin to your menu is through filter/black coffee.

There are couple of good reasons why you might want to consider serving single origin in your café:

  • Variety: It is a well-known fact that offering customers a variety of products is a sure way to keep them loyal. This is no different for cafés where you have regular customers who might be looking for something different to try. Offering a second or even a third option is a great way to keep them interested and have them coming back for more.
  • Seasonal: Most roasters will have seasonal single origins on rotation. This means not only are you offering something different to your customers every few months, but you are sure to receive fresher products, which ultimately your customers will value and enjoy.
Explore different origins and ask your supplier for information about the coffee varietal, farm, region, and country.
  • Traceability: The word ‘traceability’ has been a topic of discussion for some time now in the coffee world. Single origin coffee recognises the farm and the people behind it. It has big implications that goes beyond quality and flavour of coffee. Traceability helps to ensure the farm and the farmers are protected and they can continue producing quality beans year-round.
  • Relationship: The relationships between farmer, importers, and roasters are vital and work like a chain, where products and feedback are circulated among producers, importers, roasters, baristas, and all the way to consumers. This sharing of information helps farmers improve their produce, roasters roast better, baristas prepare better coffees, which then is passed down to the consumers.
  • Quality: Often, more effort is put into producing single origin coffees as they are done out of smaller farms. Similar care is taken while roasting coffee to preserve and highlight the natural characteristics of the region or farm. This combined effort helps add to the quality and flavour of the coffee you drink.

So, is there a preferred origin that I recommend? The short answer is “no”. Every single origin brings its own unique characteristics that defines them. While I may prefer coffee from one region, you or your customers could pick something entirely different. And, this is one of the more exciting things about single origin coffees.

Customers are likely to pay extra for their drink if they know a single origin coffee is more premium and exciting

Holding cupping sessions with your café team and offering free tastings for regular customers are great ways of opening up that conversation and getting real-time feedback. What I also recommend, is trying different origins and asking for as much information as you can get from your supplier about the coffee varietal, farm, region, and country. This will help narrow down your preference and give you the best chance of success when brewing your coffee.

Now, I’m sure your next question is “well, what about the cost?” It’s a fair question. Afterall, you as a business operator need to ensure there’s profitability when deciding to bring a new item to your menu. Generally speaking, the cost of single origin per kilo is higher than a blend, which needs to be passed down to the customers. This is simply due to above mentioned factors. But there are a few ways you can cover this cost and possibly be rewarded for the extra effort.

The coffee industry is competitive, and businesses are finding it more and more difficult to compete over price. So, I suggest steering the focus and conversation from cost to value for money. Engaging customers in conversation about quality and sustainability is a great way of pushing them into trying new and different coffees. Once they see the value, they’ll be more likely to spend higher on their daily cup. Just like paying an extra 50 cents or a dollar is common for additives.

Similar principles apply to single origin coffees. As a customer, you are getting something more in the form of quality, experience, and enjoyment for that additional charge. And, as a café operator, you need to equip yourself with the knowledge and technical skill to provide customer that experience in order to sell more single origins coffees. This includes having well-trained baristas, an extra grinder, and coffee recipe for your single origin.

Mocopan Coffee’s Babin Gurung.

Here are some of the ways you can add single origin to your existing coffee menu:

  • Long black/short black: Since you already have a regular flow of black coffee drinkers in your café, I suggest targeting them to try single origin instead of blends for their favourite drink. Tea drinkers are also a great target group because of the similarity in the nature of these drinks. With a little bit of convincing around the origin and flavour characteristics, people will be more likely to pay extra for their drink, knowing they are getting something more premium and exciting.
  • Filter: Filter coffees are probably the best brewing method for highlighting the origin characteristics. Adding filter coffee to your menu is a great way of showcasing your knowledge of coffee and justifying the price. Filter coffee does pose a challenge, as it requires separate brewing vessels, the technical know-how and time, which ultimately affects workflow. Careful consideration is required if you are planning on serving filter coffees.
  • Batch brew: This is the answer to the above issue of filter coffee. Batch brew is relatively easier to manage, is hands-off and requires very little time and knowledge to produce a great tasting coffee. A small initial investment of brewer and coffee thermos is enough to get you started. This is an easy and efficient way of serving single origin coffees in your café.
  • Iced coffee: Another great way of introducing single origin is through iced coffee drinks. The delicate nature of single origin coffees is complimented in drinks like iced long black or cold brew. Customers generally are also more willing to pay extra when it comes to iced drinks.
  • Retail: Selling retail bags is the best way of adding to your café revenue with the least amount of work. The profit margin is relatively higher and you can sell large quantities at once. Again, having the right product knowledge is vital and being able to suggest brewing methods goes a long way in maintaining retail sales. Some cafés will have a separate retail section where they offer brewing kits, which can further add to the café’s revenue.

So, where can you get your single origin from? Well, I recommend asking your coffee roaster if they offer any. More likely than not, they will have at least one single origin on hand. They can also help you pick the right equipment and brew recipe. If there’s enough interest, the roaster will be encouraged to add more to the selection, which will mutually benefit all parties involved. As we head towards a more competitive age of coffee selling, recognising customer’s priorities and needs is key. Having the right product, equipment, knowledge, and skill can make a big difference in sustaining a profitable café.

This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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