March 29, 2012

Publishers Note

Yes, my passport is running out of pages … with a few new countries being stamped in my little blue book.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Café Show in Seoul, Korea, in November, as a guest speaker of Coffee Magazine Korea and Proaster Coffee Roasters.

I found the Korean café industry has amazing service levels, and they are very advanced in their presentation and skill base. I saw some great ideas to be shared with us over the next few years.

Korea had made a right hand turn in their coffee service, moving from espresso based drinks to pour over filter (hand drip). What I liked about this was the main coffee choice for café patrons was not just a novelty, as is the case at the moment in our trendier espresso bars back home.

Many good independent cafés in Korea roast in-house – which is the secret to their success, as they are able to hold a good choice of high quality fresh roasted coffee on standby. Our friends from Proaster are supplying around 50 small shop roasters a month in the Korean market.

The other thing I like about Koreans is they utilised the full rental time for their café. The cafés traded strongly day and night. At night, they introduced alcohol and light food offerings, with most cafés becoming pseudo bars. I know we have a small population in Australia, but I still think rushing out the doors of our cafés at 3pm is a bit early.

I spent some vacation time in Queensland over the Christmas break and found a new café called ‘Black Coffee Lyrics’ on the Gold Coast – and they had a great night time trade. The café did resemble a bar at night but to my surprise, plenty of people were drinking coffee. The success of their strong evening coffee trade was that they had a dedicated barista – not just a bar person being forced to make coffee between drinks.

We know cafés are meeting places. Not everyone wants to hang out at the pub or club at night, so cafés are a great alternative. As with many of my previous observations of the café industry, I’ve often talked about point of difference marketing – and night time trade is definitely a real point of difference. It will only suit certain locations and may only be viable at certain times of the year, but it is worth considering.

I am very excited about our upcoming Café Biz in Sydney in March – and can’t believe it is 10 years since our first event. Our business has grown with the industry, and we are still amazed at how clever our café industry has become. Ten years ago we had very little data and information about the café sector, and many businesses failed due to not being able to get some simple help.

Café Biz and Café Culture Magazine, I believe, have been at the forefront of industry betterment and change. We’ve had some great contributors and sponsors, who are still with us from all those years ago, helping us to improve product and service quality levels. I am looking forward to the Café Biz lead up, where my team and I will get out and talk to café owners and their staff and really find out what is happening out there on the ground.

We are very pleased to have partnered with Café Pulse over the past year, to enable the collection of industry data. Thank you to all our readers who participated in the surveys in Café Culture Magazine. We have had a great response from the industry, and we can now better predict areas of growth and look at issues that affect the profitability of running a café.

From our survey results, we can see coffee consumption is definitely on the rise, as more consumers become more educated and receive better quality product from cafés and espresso bars. The survey also shows more cafés are now focusing on their human resources, with better recruitment processes and understanding the importance of training in all areas of their business. Most new businesses are investing in point of sales systems which include linkage to back of house financial software programs, so cafés can do a quick analysis of their businesses. Some people still get a bit ticked off doing surveys, but it’s the one way we can help our businesses grow and pinpoint trends in this fast moving industry sector.

Talking about trends in the café industry, we are putting a lot of our research and development time into looking at food service in the café industry. We have linked up with (FIA) Food Industry Association in NSW to better understand the latest menu items being served in the average café structure.

Food manufacturers and distributors know the café sector of the business is quite large, but need now to really pinpoint what the needs are for café operators. Traditionally, cafés produced most of their food menus in house as bread based options. As people’s habits and expectations change, so does the complexity of food offerings.

Many cafés have no choice but to outsource some of their food products, so higher quality and more profitable portion controls can enter the café marketplace from food service providers. This process has happened in the restaurant industry, and club and food producers are starting to tailor this service to the café industry. There will definitely be some major menu changes in our cafés, and we can’t ignore what the consumer is expecting.

In the following issues of Café Culture Magazine, we will be working with café chefs and the food producers to look at ways to bring this type of offering to the café menu in a profitable way.For any feedback you’d like to give us about Café Culture Magazine and our events, please email us at

I look forward to visiting your business in the next few weeks leading up to our 10th celebration of Café Biz Sydney.


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