Cashing in on quality coffee
Published: December 31, 2012
Quickservice chains are cashing in on coffee. McCafe espresso-based beverages account for a substantial portion of McDonald’s revenues. The chain also sells packaged coffee in Canadian stores and may offer bags of McCafe Premium Roast in the U.S. For its part, Wendy’s upgraded its coffee program last year with the Redhead Roasters line and Burger King has partnered with Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Best coffee in America? That’s what Dunkin’ Donuts thinks about its brew. But they recently lost their bid to trademark the phrase. The chain has been augmenting hot coffee sales with its popular K-Cup single-serve product for home.
Despite the recession, the coffeehouse and donut segment has maintained steady growth over the past five years, with a projected 7 percent increase in 2012 to $28 billion, according to Mintel. An additional 18 percent growth is forecasted over the next five years.
Although wholesale prices have moderated from the spike of a couple of years ago, the demand for better quality beans has translated into a more expensive cup of Joe. The average price for restaurant coffee has risen 25 percent since 2007, according to Packaged Facts.
Consumers seem to be willing to pay that price—if the coffee is worth it. On-trend operators are hand-selecting raw beans (often directly from growers), roasting on-premise and utilizing elaborate brewing methods, such as the wildly popular cold brewing.
The new specials
Move over cappuccino, customers want frappes.
Change in coffee types menued, 2009–2012
|Source: Mintel Report on U.S. Coffee Houses and Donut Shops, October 2012|
Cold brewing is the latest coffee trend to entice consumers and baristas alike. Various contraptions and methods are used but basically, ground coffee is steeped in cold water for 12 to 72 hours, producing a concentrate often used in iced drinks. Proponents claim it produces intensely caffeinated yet mellower, smoother, sweeter, less-acidic brews, with a different flavor profile than hot-brew methods.
Taking a unique approach to cold brewing is Dwelltime Coffeebar and Bakeshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We spent a lot of time working out the details,” says GM Jaime Vanschyndel. “We’re not using the Toddy method, it’s a true cold brew process.” During the 12-hour procedure, right up until service, the coffee is refrigerated at or below 40°F. Instead of traditional straining, Dwelltime uses three-stage filtration adapted from beer and wine production. This yields a final product with no cloudiness or sediment. Made in 5- or 35-gallon batches, the cold brew is kegged, nitrogen flushed to prevent oxidation and dispensed from a tap.
“With our cold brew, you can actually taste the origins of the coffee and the way it was roasted,” says Vanschyndel. Dwelltime serves only single-origin coffees, all roasted at its Barismo roastery facility.
The coffee bar charges the same for cold-brew as for drip coffee—$3 to $4 per cup. Although there is less demand in winter, Dwelltime sells about 15 gallons a week; in summer they’ll go through 15 to 20 gallons a day. Cambridge Cold Brew is available in liter bottles for take-away, and there are plans to sell at retail.