Great-tasting beverages depend on good quality equipment and well trained staff, writes Louise Whitaker, marketing manager at Peros, the UK’s largest distributor of Fairtrade beverages and snacks to the foodservice sector.
What types of beverage machines are there?
Caterers will need to utilise a range of equipment. For hot beverages, a traditional espresso machine is likely to be at the heart of the operation – these provide excellent beverages, time after time, together with the necessary ‘theatre’ that customers have come to expect.
These machines are still the leading method of delivery for a serious and profitable coffee menu. They are unmatched in the quality and range of coffees they can provide in the cup through the huge number of variables that can be controlled by a skilled barista – including coarseness of grind, tamping, brew-head temperature and the time and pressure of water flow.
Depending on the operation, caterers may need to be familiar with filter equipment, whose popularity is currently very high, as well as other brewing methods such as Chemex, V60 and Aeropress.
In terms of cold drinks, smoothies and iced drinks offer huge potential. It’s easy to offer a range of tasty, made-to-order soft drinks; for example, smoothies, iced chai, frappés, chunky frappés, sparklers, iced teas and iced coffees.
To achieve this, just a blender, refrigeration and some cups are required initially, as well as a range of ingredients. With a small number of core ingredients a wide range can be offered, including unusual and seasonal flavours.
What are the training requirements for operating the various systems available?
Remember, it’s not just about the equipment itself. It’s also important to make sure your staff are properly trained to get the most out of your machines and that your equipment is well looked after to ensure it delivers high quality and consistent drinks over its lifetime, so maximising the return on your investment.
Staff training is a vital part of your overall hot beverage offering and will pay good dividends in the long run. The quality of your baristas doesn’t just determine the quality of your coffee; it fundamentally affects the overall customer experience you’re offering.
But training is no good if it’s just a one-off; it needs to be regular and ongoing. Consider ‘training a trainer’ for your team so that staff development becomes the heart of everything you do. Carry out regular audits of your procedures and skills to measure the progress your team is making. Look at doing on-site as well as off-site training to add variety and maintain interest.
Training should also incorporate some advice on maintenance. Each machine and every piece of equipment requires a regular regime of cleaning, maintenance and servicing. It’s a time-consuming chore; not just carrying out the tasks themselves, but also scheduling the work correctly and keeping effective records.
But if you look after your beverage equipment, it will look after you.