Compass Group insists it is “playing with the best of the best” in commercial coffee equipment following a drive towards enhancing its coffee offering and the creation of its first ever Barista Academy.
The caterer has made some significant strides in the sector by developing a range of coffee offers, including the launch of the Caffé Dallucci brand and coffee outlet concepts Peak St. and Crackle & Hum, while its head office training facility has gained accreditation from the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA).
Compass has formed close relationships with the likes of UCC, Victoria Arduino and Simonelli Group, and Stephen Lovegrove, head of format (café and foodvenience), believes such partnerships are the bedrock of its strategy.
“It is not just about having great quality products – having great quality equipment is really fundamental to delivering a great experience,” he explained. “That is then underpinned with training to create the ‘triangle’ that is our recipe for delivering great solutions for both clients and our consumers. We strongly believe that investment in great equipment is essential, even down to extraction times and temperature stability – the key functions that Simonelli Group is able to offer are really important to us in ensuring we can deliver consistently great coffee.”
Compass is only the third company in the UK to receive Premier Training Campus accreditation from the SCA, which is a major coup for the company, according to Lovegrove.
“It is a very important milestone for us in terms of the UK, but also globally for Compass we are the first. None of our competitors have that facility and I think it really just sets out our stall in terms of our focus on training and the importance of training to us as a business.”
Mr Lovegrove said the investment would help it avoid the mistakes of sites that splash out on new equipment and coffee but are let down by their failure to offer the right training.
“You could never put a chef into a kitchen without them being appropriately trained and yet they are quite happy to put someone onto a coffee machine who has had an hour’s training – that’s no longer acceptable,” he said, adding that Compass has now made SCA-training a mandatory requirement for anybody working in its Peak St. and Crackle & Hum outlets.
And he acknowledged that with everyone from Costa and Starbucks to artisanal independents raising the bar in their own different ways, it is essential that Compass has sufficient skills in-house. “Consumers expect great coffee wherever they buy it, whether it is a vending machine, a self-serve machine or a barista-served machine.”
Asked about the challenges it faces in terms of managing client sites that aren’t using equipment from preferred partners such as UCC, he said: “We have got sites that won’t have UCC equipment but the way we approach that is ensuring that the SCA training is the foundation of everything that we do. The new equipment obviously makes the barista’s job a lot easier, but equally a well-trained barista can achieve exactly the same levels and standards with a five- or 10-year-old machine, as long as it has been maintained properly and the barista has been correctly trained. “
Mr Lovegrove was speaking to FEJ at the launch of Compass’ inaugural Barista Academy, where it revealed the five baristas who will make up the company’s elite group of coffee experts.
Compass will now progress the skills of these individuals by enrolling them onto the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) Coffee Skills Programme. They will have the opportunity to gain a Diploma in Coffee and potentially work towards becoming an Accredited SCA Trainer, enabling them to spread their expert knowledge across the business’ barista community by leading SCA training courses themselves.