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Critical components for success with espresso: a good system and inventive marketing.

An "espresso system" equals good espresso; good espresso with inventive marketing equals profits. This bottom line contribution is a big reason why espresso is growing at such an amazing rate in the U.S., both in foodservice and retail. But for every success story with espresso, there is a story of failure. What makes the difference? From what I've seen, successful espresso programs concentrate on two areas; the espresso system and marketing. If you don't have the first, you won't have good espresso; if you don't have the second, you can have the best espresso in the world; but nobody will know about it.

A traditional espresso system refers to the blend of beans, equipment, maintenance of the equipment, and the operator. Assembling an espresso system costs time and money and requires dedication, experimentation, and a commitment to quality.

Problems arise when trying to alter the system. Like using stale, cheap, burnt coffee to save money, or ordering a commercial espresso unit but refusing to buy a grinder, or not maintaining your equipment because you'd have to pay a service call, or not teaching employees to make a proper espresso, because you didn't have anyone to train them. You can't cut corners if you are talking about quality.

Many retailers and foodservice operators want to sell espresso but do not have the time or inclination to assemble the system. They prefer to rely on marketing to generate profits. This is o.k. as long as they are dedicated to "good" espresso because you can buy complete espresso systems that take any guesswork out of preparation and produce a consistently good cup.

After you have assembled the components of your espresso system and are confident about the quality of your espresso, what now? You tell people about what you have to sell ... you market it.

A primary step is to decide on an exciting drink menu. Espresso is versatile and with imagination, it can be prepared to please anyone. Serve plain or with a dollop of foamed milk or whipped cream for those who like the basic taste. Add steamed and foamed milk for a cappuccino (the espresso drink that is most popular here in America) and add more steamed milk to make it a latte. Add chocolate milk, whipped cream, after dinner liquors, whatever you like. Espresso drinks are good hot but in the summer they are delicious cold, just pour over ice after you make it. Espresso can even be used as an ingredient in desserts and main dish recipes. Your imagination is your only limitation.

After you decide on your menu, buy the appropriate serving receptacles. Serve espresso in small, thick, demitasse cups, do not try and save money by using regular coffee mugs. Lattes and other large, hot espresso drinks look nice in clear mugs made with thick glass and handles. Large, cold, espresso drinks look good in these mugs too, or tall, thin, uniquely shaped glasses.

Think up imaginative names for the espresso drinks and put descriptions on the menu. If a customer reads interesting information about an espresso drink, it can influence their decision to try it.

If you are serving espresso in a restaurant, you might want to prepare a separate menu for espresso and coffee drinks so they are showcased. You also might want to try a coffee and dessert menu. This type of menu can be every bit as impressive as a well thought out wine list.

If you have a coffee house or coffee shop, display the menu where it is easily seen and the information legible. You might want to mention that the coffee you use for your espresso is available by the pound to take home.

To stimulate your pound sales of espresso, print recipes using espresso and distribute to customers. If you roast your coffee on premises fresh every day, put up signs telling customers about your fresh coffee. Don't assume they will notice it by themselves.

Espresso is versatile, it can be prepared to please anyone and is therefore very marketable. It is also profitable. At approximately 1/4 ounce of coffee per serving, there is about 64 servings of espresso per pound. If the cost of the espresso beans are $4.00 to $6.00 per pound, the cup cost would be 6cts and 9cts respectively. At an average sales price of anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 per serving, it is real easy to calculate a substantial profit margin. (If you don't have a calculator handy, let me help. Let's say you charge $1.50 per serving, at 64 servings per pound, that comes to $96.00 per pound minus a cost of say $5.00. That is $91.00 per pound gross profit. Not bad!)

If you want to have a successful espresso program, whether you sell it by the cup or by the pound, select the right espresso system for your needs, concentrate on quality and market your program creatively.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sturdivant, Shea
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1991
Words:828
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