The Power of Seasonal Coffee Offerings: How to Keep Your Menu Fresh
Your goal as a cafe or restaurant owner is to give your patrons a wonderful and distinctive experience. Our own experience operating cafes has taught us that leveraging the power of seasonal coffee offerings is one efficient method to accomplish this. Coffee is, after all, more than just a drink; it can be an adventure and a love affair with flavors. As coffee connoisseurs, our mission should be to constantly bring your customers something fresh, something unique, and something exciting. Below we talk about how to keep your menu fresh, and your customers coming back for more.
Leveraging Seasonal Fresh Crop Coffee
Our seasonal sourcing is one approach to make sure we're giving our consumers the freshest New Crop coffee. This strategy doesn't always include buying in small amounts; instead, it involves timing our purchases to coincide with the natural harvesting seasons for coffee.
Our philosophy on coffee is firmly grounded in a dedication to excellence and freshness. Here is how we accomplish that:
- Micro-Lot Coffee: We source our micro-lot coffees in very small quantities from unique coffee growing regions. These are often limited supply lots, which means the coffee you enjoy is as exclusive as it is fresh.
- Seasonal Harvesting: Coffee, like all agricultural products, has a harvest season. By aligning our purchasing with these seasons, we ensure that we're buying coffee at its peak freshness.
Understanding Coffee Harvesting Seasons
Coffee, much like any agricultural product, has a season. Here's a quick look at coffee harvesting seasons in various regions:
- Central America: December - March
- South America: April - September
- Africa: East Africa - October to February, West Africa - October to March
- Asia: October - March
These timelines can vary based on several factors like weather and climate conditions. It's essential to stay in constant communication with your suppliers to ensure optimal freshness.
Why Micro-Lot Coffee Is Popular
Our entire coffee selection is sourced seasonally to ensure peak freshness, but we also offer the unique option of micro-lot coffees. With these rare, limited lots, you can give your menu a unique and extraordinary twist. You may have noticed that we regularly release new coffees that are only offered for a brief period of time. Our Burundi Angele Ciza lot, a lovely offering we expect will only be available for a month or two, is a recent example of this. The reason for the limited supply is to make room for the upcoming special coffee experience. By doing this, we update our selection frequently, keeping the coffee experience fresh and exciting.
Engaging Barista Teams and Customers with Seasonal Coffee
The introduction of seasonal coffees creates a sense of excitement and anticipation
- For Barista Teams: New coffees provide an opportunity for learning and engagement, keeping their passion for coffee alive and thriving. Your team likely enjoy having something new to talk about with your regulars, so this is a way of keeping everyone engaged.
- For Customers: The opportunity to savor diverse, seasonal coffees not only stimulates spontaneous whole bean purchases but also keeps the coffee experience lively and varied. While a consistent offering can retain your regular customers, having a rotating selection can attract new clientele who appreciate variety and novelty in their coffee choices.
Enhancing Your Menu with Seasonal Flavored Drinks
Also consider refreshing your menu with seasonal drinks that feature distinctive flavours and syrups, like our Giffard Syrups, in addition to coffee. Although we recently shared some Spring beverage suggestions in a blog post, there are many more options available for creating creative drinks.
- Introducing New Flavors: Every season presents an opportunity to bring something fresh to your menu, perfectly complementing your coffee offerings and the spirit of the time of year. Consider the phenomenon of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte and its massive following across North America. What could be your next seasonal sensation?
- Unleashing Creativity: Encourage your team to test their creativity by inventing new drink combinations. This can result in unexpected and exciting flavors that surprise and satisfy your customers. An internal competition to create the next menu feature can be a fun team-building activity and a source of motivation.
- Stimulating Customer Engagement: The anticipation of fresh menu additions keeps customers intrigued and enthusiastic about your offerings. Not only does this create a dynamic in-store atmosphere, but it also provides new content for your social media platforms, fostering online engagement and customer interaction.
We believe that seasonal coffee offerings can significantly improve your customers experience . Your offerings will always be current, intriguing, and special if you source seasonal ingredients/flavors, highlight exclusive micro-lots, and regularly change your menu. Take advantage of seasonal coffee offerings today and watch it change your company through excitement and increased average spending habits.
Central America, Direct Trade coffee sourcing trip – An overview
Following this post will be a detailed write up on the new relationships we are forming as well as updates on our current relationships. What I first wanted to communicate was the overall reaction of what we saw in Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica last month.
This is going to be a VERY challenging year for coffee producers. Across all of Central America the average harvest is down 30-50% per farm, in total pounds being produced. This is due primarily to the record-breaking rains falls, which wreaked havoc during the flowering season. When a flower is damaged, a coffee cherry will not grow. On top of this, global demand for top quality coffees is WAY up!! To add fuel to this fire, the fund companies who seem to be in control of the New York Commodity market are pushing the NYC Price of coffee way down putting price pressure on low quality lots reducing the income for farmers even more. This goes to show further evidence that TRUE Direct Trade relationships between coffee producers and roasters is vital for the future sustainability of our businesses. Roasters like Fratello will continue to reward our coffee producing partners for quality coffees, and pay the high prices for green coffee regardless of how low the NYC market is going.
The main reason for going to Guatemala was to visit Diego De La Cerda who owns the multi award winning Finca El Socorro & Finca Guabaya who took 1st place in the Cup of Excellence (COE) last year (as well as 2007) and finished in the top ten of the COE in the last 6 years now. These neighboring farms are in the Palencia region of Guatemala. This coming year we are going to be introducing a few new micro-lot options from Guatemala.
We also visited coffee producers in Antigua as well as Florencia. It was nice to visit some smaller coffee producers as typically in Guatemala we have been working with larger producers who are able to produce and separate smaller lots like our Montecristo. Fratello’s desire is to work with smaller producers, focusing on micro-lots and micro-regions.
The goal is to have coffees that are unique in cup profile to better showcase what a growing region is capable of doing. This means we will need a broader selection of coffee producers in any given region we are working in.
We then went to El Salvador. This was our first trip to El Salvador and it was truly an eye opening experience. El Salvador might be a new favorite coffee region. The expertise, tradition and focus on quality & experimentation just blew my mind. I tasted plum, pumpkin pie, thick syrupy cup profiles which were new to my palate.
We first traveled to the Tecapa region to visit Gilberto Baraona, the owner of Finca Los Pirineos. At the elevation of 1500 meters, situated between two volcano’s is some of the nicest farm land I have been to. Gilberto is growing over 40 different varieties of coffee in the search of the next Geisha. He knows he has some special terroir in his farm, and now needs to find the best varietal of coffee to grow. I guarantee he is going to find it. Gilberto had us taste a few experiments he did with the highest end liquid fertilization he could find. WOW!!! We are going to be taking this Pacamara and it is going to blow your mind!
At Finca Malacara B, who placed #3 and #4 in the Cup of Excellence in 2011, showed me the best example of the original old way of tree pruning called Agobio Para, which translates to “tree bending”. Typically producers will “stump” a tree, cutting at the base, to allow for a new coffee tree to sprout. I’ve been told that a lot of the health, nutrition and character of the coffee tree is in the trunk. Agobio Para treats the trunk like a “spine”. The art of Agobio Para is bending the trunk and tying it to the ground. This will allow for many new sprouting coffee trees to grow from a single root system with out damaging the original trunk of the coffee tree. What you end up with are MANY coffee trees, all of different ages, growing from one root. This root will require MUCH more fertilization than a typical root, however, over all you use less per farm. Each tree takes up WAY more space than a normal tree, however, it will produce much more coffee compared to a regular tree. The goal is a more stable harvest, year over year. Its hard to describe, but was truly mind blowing. Why is no other region doing this?
We are trying to secure 3 very unique lots of El Salvador for this coming year. These are extraordinary, award winning coffees….potentially some of the best lots we have ever offered.
As always, Costa Rican impresses my with their Micro-Mill revolution which continues to expand and improve. I am seeing better organization, at farm level as well as more dedication to improve quality. These producers have been getting premiums for their coffee for a few years now and are typically re-investing into their mills for efficiency’s and consistency.
This year we are going to continue with our relationship with La Cabana and Miguel Rojas and introducing a new producer and micro-mill La Lia. The La Lia coffee is glorious. Its delicate, floral and elegant…..a true stand out coffee on the cupping table. We will potentially have 2 lots from them as well as 2 lots from Miguel Rojas. Miguel has harvested a special micro-lot for us, which is in a very protected micro-region at his farm. The consistency of red cherries on the trees was like something I’ve never seen. This was a new experiment Miguel was doing with higher quality fertilization. Proof will be in the cup, but I have no doubt that this 15 bag lot will be impressive.
In general we are seeing quality way up, however, quantity way down. This is going to be a big year for Central American coffees out of Fratello. We are going to be really raising the bar on quality and selection in the hopes of continually introducing new/fresh coffee offerings. We know you and your clients are going to appreciate the work that goes into sourcing coffee the way we do.