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By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (

We all love caffeine and coffee happens to be among the most components in your F&B arsenal. Let’s start by recapping what should you already know or have gone through with your team prior to starting to think about this ten-step process. Firstly, you’ve reviewed your brew and you’re convinced it is a contender to of note to guests as well as locals. Next, you’ve done your best to include a great decaf companion. And lastly, you’re offering, at a minimum, espresso, cappuccino and lattes to flesh out your menu beyond mere percolated beans.

Now, how do you lever this into creating an actual coffee culture? When we use the word ‘experience’ it is meant to denote something far more than just the type of coffee you use and a few of the drinks your baristas can handle. It incorporates the cups, the cutlery, the available snacks, the décor, the ambiance of the setting and anything else that would contribute to the environment. With this in mind, here are some suggestions towards building an experience into your program.

1. Give customers something extra. A popular Israeli coffee chain that has expanded throughout Toronto puts a small dark chocolate on the saucer or on the takeout top of every cup. If that does not work for your business, try a biscotti as is customary in most Italian bistros. The idea here is a little amuse bouche or something extra that the customer was not expecting.

2. Don’t forget sugar. Consider a crystal sugar stick added to all premium drinks, or brown cane sugar cubes – that is, the rough cut. Both add slight points of differentiation and an upscale perception to your coffee service. I recognize there is an additional cost here, so make sure you manage your pricing accordingly.

3. Update your crockery. There are many Italian coffee companies that offer branded cups and saucers in the appropriate size ranges for espressos, cortados, medium cappuccinos and large lattes. If you are not using their coffees, look to source your own. Look for something colorful to give your service a distinctive look. Or look for a somewhat esoteric shape so that it stands apart from all the other more perfunctory designs.

4. Create a brand identity. An easy way to brand coffee is to sprinkle powdered chocolate or cinnamon on a well-frothed cappuccino through a metal template that reveals your logo. Other ways include custom-printed serviettes, emblems on cutlery, branded packaging for snacks, nicely stylized printed materials and all manner of themed décor or furnishing upgrades.

5. Make your coffee service accessible. Learn from Starbucks. Bring your coffee service out in the open. Find a way to have your barista engage with your customers and to educate your guests at each and every touchpoint. The closer the customer is to the coffee, the better.

6. Avoid flavored brew. Real coffee is not flavored with vanilla or hazelnut. These additives must come after the roasting phase as the aroma created by these artificial supplements when heated can be off-putting to real coffee enthusiasts. But, if you must add a flavored variant, provide separate brewing equipment or look to make these additives available via a range of ad hoc extras like shakers or making a few nut milks on hand.

7. If offering hot chocolate, do it right. Powdered mixes are flat out unacceptable. True hot chocolate is made with steamed milk and bar or cube chocolate. It is expensive to make, so price it accordingly, but the result is a flavor so far beyond the powdered kind that the two are practically incomparable.

8. Add a loyalty component. Even if the program is quite basic – for instance, with a manual stamp – loyalty is nevertheless an important factor in any coffee service. Rewards can be as simple as one free with ten purchases. More sophisticated programs can be built, but if starting from scratch, this entry-level offer will certainly suffice. After all, the more complex the reward, the harder it will be for customers to comprehend and the smaller the uptake will be.

9. Offer fresh snacks. The key to any bakery accompaniment is freshness. Croissants, pastries, muffins, scones, cookies, brownies, tarts, pies, cakes, petit-fours and any manner of wild creations will taste insurmountably better when fresh. My recommendation here, like that for so many other aspects of hotel operations, is ‘less is more’. Start by focusing on only a few essentials and make them utterly delicious before adding to the confectionary list. To ensure freshness, fine tune your daily baking routine so that you almost sell out but you aren’t left with a significant quantity of leftovers on any particular day. As well, these are often impulse purchases, so make sure the visual display is satisfactory to complement these creations.

10. Use POS to fine tune your presentation. Data will ultimately guide you in terms of optimizing your selection, pricing and additional services. Give any new initiative time, and go slowly with any menu adjustments. For the first few months, I would also advise getting some firsthand qualitative feedback from your guests to see if there any deal-breakers that need immediate course correction.

This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author.

Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.

About Larry Mogelonsky

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes four books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), and “The Llama is Inn” (2017). You can reach Larry at to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

Contact: Larry Mogelonsky

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