4 Top Tips to Choosing a Coffee Supplier
Choosing the right coffee supplier is critical to establishing a great coffee destination. To help you with choosing I have compiled what I feel are the top 4 considerations.
Most business owners will put the highest emphasis on price of the coffee bean, and what will be supplied free. This can be misguided as I will discuss below there are more important things you need to find out.
1) What is the back-up you will be getting with your coffee supplier?
Most people think of back up as the coffee machinery offered, but there is the servicing and maintaining of the machinery to consider also.
The machinery servicing side of things is where a lot of suppliers can fall down. It is very important that your machinery is functioning with little downtime and this is a critical support role of your coffee supplier. This spans from the basic ongoing onsite checking of the machinery that should be provided on regular visits to your site, to breakdown repairs. As an example we personally handle the smaller servicing work ourselves when onsite, things like changing the head seals, changing the water filters, diagnosing any issues and putting a plan of action in place to remedy should it be required.
Regular on-site calls are very important to help you with your coffee, from machinery support to on-site training of staff to product updates. Some suppliers do not call on their clients for months at a time or only once or twice a year, this is just not enough as far as I am concerned and you should expect more.
2) Quality of the coffee available
The coffee offered should be consistent in quality and freshness and flavour, this is more important than pricing to a large degree in my opinion. The reason is that usually the price variance from 1kg of beans to another is a couple of dollars so can be absorbed pretty easily, but if you want to grow a loyal customer base they will be looking for consistency in coffee, we have seen it time and time again where beans are supplied to businesses that are very inconsistent and the flavour is affected causing customers to become dissatisfied and potentially go elsewhere. To avoid this systems need to be in place at the roastery to ensure consistent fresh roasted coffee bean supply.
Always check what is in place to provide consistency with any supplier you are talking to.
In relation to this is the actual consistency of making the coffee at your site. There is no point having a very consistent bean if your coffee makers/baristas are making it different each time.
So in-house training becomes a very important and ongoing requirement that must be offered to you, this should be done in a way that can allow you to take over some of the basic training yourself. We aim to have our site sufficient enough to be able to get new staff up and running on the machines then we can step in to further the training is required.
3) Can you have exclusive coffee blends?
This is something to consider when choosing your supplier, there is nothing worse than getting your coffee in then it being placed next door when you are trying to create a point of difference. Can your supplier offer you this exclusivity and brand protection? This is not available for all blends but should be for some of the blends on offer. This will mean there needs to be a certain level of commitment from you to get this but this is how win-win relationships are developed.
4) How much experience does your supplier have?
How long your supplier has been supplying and supporting customers like yourself is very important as it takes years to get a really good feel for what support is actually vital verse just offering shiny new things.
What do I mean by this?
Every supplier has a limited amount they can spend on obtaining your business, some will offer free shiny things up front to get it, which on the face of it looks great, however with experience comes the realisation that in order to provide you with the backup and service you require to create great coffee and grow your coffee business, a focus of time and money needs to on the areas that achieve that. Which relates back to my back-up service point above.
Only those suppliers that have been in the industry actually providing the support and have actual results should be considered for a long term business relationship.
I hope this gives you the business owner some insight and goes some way to helping you on your coffee supplier search.
We are proud to be an experienced supplier of coffee to many of our local coffee businesses and enjoy passing on our knowledge to support our customers.
All the best
Coffee and Equipment
Servicing Central Otago, Queenstown, Wanaka, Timaru, Oamaru, South Canterbury, Te Anau, West Coast