"What am I Drinking & Where is it From?”
As we start to head towards the end of winter, and with the worst of Omnicron hopefully past us, we can now look back over the past 2 years as the most turbulent time our respective businesses have seen. As we are still experiencing a continued unsettled environment not knowing specifically when workers will return back to the office, and more related to the coffee industry, the continued climb to levels unseen in the past number of years. What is our best course of action?
To search for answers in the foodservice industry I recently started reading The Next Supper, written by Corey Mintz, a former Toronto Cook, Food Reporter, and Food Critic who now resides in Winnipeg. In this book he describes that change in the foodservice industry was needed even prior to the pandemic and examines what he anticipates will be next for the industry. The food that we eat, the way we order it should all be examined. What food we eat and how we eat is changing. It is a fascinating read of how the industry has changed through the pandemic and a sign of what is to come.
What does that mean for coffee?
Customers are asking with an increased focus “what am I drinking and where is it from?” They want to know that their coffee is ethically sourced, and traceability to source. Now this isn’t necessarily new news. Coffee roasters have been telling stories of farm to cup for quite a number of years, but customers are asking this with increased frequency. A couple of years ago a number of cafes started to offer a service to trace their cup to the exact farm where the coffee was grown. This was an innovative way to differentiate their coffee from their competition. While it hasn’t widely taken off, I wonder how far away we are from consumers asking for this level of detail.
Consumers whether in the office environment or foodservice want to be given choice and options on what they are drinking. They want the ability to choose their country of origin and then tailor that drink to make it their own. Think of it this way, what choices do we have when it comes to television today compared to 20 years ago? The entertainment industry has had to adapt and change and we too will have to adapt for the changes in the foodservice industry.
Coffees with clear storylines, tracing back to farms and growing - whether it is Fair Trade and Organic or Rainforest Alliance, will become more and more prevalent. It is a differentiating factor and can help create choice with customers demanding to know more detail on what they are consuming.
In a time when the green coffee market continues to climb, it may be the time to consider this type of product offering and do what Corey Mintz so wisely surmises. One thing that came out of this pandemic is the fact that we all need to be in relationship with others. We need to build that relationship more closely with our customers and build our programs and education for the market appropriately.