March 31, 2015

Cafe Culture – Publisher’s note

After having a nice quite break over Christmas, I thought it would be good to ease into the new year slowly with some forward planning and a strategic approach to what lies ahead in business for the year. No such luck, as I was on a plane circling the globe again. First, speaking in Thailand at the Pentair APAC conference, then flying to New Zealand to complete route to market consultations, then on another plane to Singapore for a few more speaking engagements before a quick trip to Portland, Seattle in the USA for a coffee conference. I should not complain, as if I did not do so much of this travelling thing, I would not be able to help spread the great word of Café Culture to you as the reader.
Travel opens your eyes and lets you see a different perspective of the world. It has taken me a lot of years to learn not to compare cultures against our own and to say who’s got the best practices in business. Each culture has its own way of designing a workable model that suits the lifestyle of their customer base. I now try to focus on great points of difference that you see when you travel and try to pick those great bits that I can mould into my own workplace. Seeing exciting new concepts is the way change will develop and seeing something firsthand is often better then reading about it on the internet. I have a bit of a chuckle when I come across people who try hard to push a style or idea onto me when I know they have not seen the concept in action, because they have never been out their own backyard. Travel to me unlocks my mind and lets me see different opinions and interpretations of the big world, and it is my job to share these workable solutions and ideas.
One of the good ideas and innovations I would like to share came out of my recent New Zealand trip, where I visited over 250 cafés. The Kiwis’ skill in baking and making their café deli cabinets look amazing is at the forefront, I believe, based on all of the cafés I have visited around the world. I believe the big reason that the humble cake cabinet in NZ is at a pinnacle, is because many cafés in there were once bakeries that have been slowly transformed into a café structure as the coffee culture grew. They were lucky to hang on to the concept of eating with your eyes, with a bakery type display cabinet that works so well in a modern day café business.
The main reason I like to see a well designed deli cabinet system is that it cuts down on labour costs, thus being able to serve a meal directly from a cabinet. It will also speed up the food delivery process, allowing for more customer turnover. The main thing that stood out in my mind when I visited New Zealand cafés was the use of products that had good shelf life, and NZ has the best range of slices that I have ever seen in my world travels. A slice can have many different faces, from a healthy muesli and fruit combination to total indulgent square of chocolate and salted caramel slice. Slices make up most of the sweet side of the display; the other clever ingredients on show were different patties, again with good mixes of meat, tuna and vegetarian options, covering all your food groups in the café customer modern menu. I also noticed the use of interesting raw salads that I definitely see in vogue in today’s trends and healthy eating habits of the café customer.
We are now in a period of time where we are stepping into a crazy line up of café food expectations. It’s where a café menu has to divide between super healthy diets from paleo and vegan to the total back flip and be super indulgent, with items like sticky cinnamon buns and sugary fried cronuts.

Some quick tips for deli cabinet must dos are:
• Sixty percent savoury, forty percent sweet of total cabinet.
• Use good lighting to help feature the colours in the food – remembering a cabinet frames the display, so keep it clean! No finger prints on the glass or old food scraps on the bottom of the cabinet.
• Keep the cabinet full and label products neatly and clearly – helps make the purchasing decision easier, which flows through to time savings.
• Big bowls of salads will be one of the café’s biggest selling items, so make salads that have at least two days’ shelf life and are health focused.
• Pick cakes and slices that will last more than a day and wrap them overnight with cling wrap so they don’t dry out.
• Sales formula is, product cost times three equals minimum sale price.
• Become a retailer, not a short order cook.
The nice thing about the deli cabinet in a café structure is that most people expect this as a normal fixture in today’s café. Cabinet food allows you to fill in the gaps of daily service and will speed up takeaway selections. You have to understand that over 50% of coffee purchases are takeaway, so why not send them out with a pre-made salad or sandwich.
I hope all Café Culture readers enjoy their start to the New Year and look at what changes they can make to their business moving forward – and remember to keep your customers in the loop of change, as having their buy in always helps those relationships and sales.

Sean Edwards

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