Since I wasn't scheduled to judge today after all in the USBC semifinals, I decided to attend a seminar I really wanted to catch - the Restaurant Coffee seminar. It's one about improving restaurant coffee, and move the concept of that coffee from "regular" (and decaf) to culinary. And decaf, I guess.
There was Jim Munson, a fellow I've known for some time in the biz, from Dallis Coffee giving the main talk. Dallis is really high on the presspot service in restaurants, in the NYC area.
Joining him on a panel were Christopher Hollis from Boulder Creek/Blackstone Steakhouses, Nils Lindblad from Bodum, and Christopher Russell from Union Square Cafe, all based out of NY. Russell offers a very culinary selection of press coffees in his bustling and famous restaurant, and Hollis' business goes more single scope - a single type of coffee, and one press size.
The talk was very interesting. Munson put up some slides that showed exactly how profitable moving to a press service would be, sometimes showing as much as a $25,000 increase in yearly revenue when a restaurant moves about 500 cups a week. They covered costs, practicalities of the setup, and because Dallis is pushing Bodum-labeled "frac" packs (exact ground portions in a sealed bag) mainly covered doing the service with these proportioned, preground coffee samples.
It was funny, because Jim at one point challenged me to a cupping test to tell the difference between fresh ground, right in the middle of the seminar. I know Dallis has great coffee, but I may have to take him up on that one.
The talk had some interesting tidbits, including the fact that the biggest barrier to press pot service introduction is not customers or the initial cost - but the serving staff. Apparently serving staff don't like changes. Russell even joked that giving out raises to staff is difficult... "here's more money..." "but it's different!" "I know, but it means more money for you!" "But.... it's changed. It's different! I don't know what to do!"
I loved the seminar because it even touched on doing a "coffee list" in a restaurant, much like a wine list. I've been thinking about this idea for some time, but I want to bring it steps forward even more. I want to introduce the idea of coffee pairings in flights. Small demitasses of coffee paired with quarter-portions of deserts. It would rock.