Can you tell us a little about how you got involved with your current role?
I started Coffee Community Ltd 16 years ago now. I was running a large catering operation and got on well with my coffee supplier and that sparked the original interest. We steadily got more and more involved in coffee education and consultancy over the years as the industry matured and advanced.
With menus constantly changing and consumers’ expectations continuing to grow, what are the key trends in the market currently?
That’s hard to say as there are many different customer segments using many different types of cafés, each one with their particular trends and favourites. Cold drinks are obviously popular at the moment with the more coffee focused drinks like Cold Brew and Shakerattos, and then the wider appeal of fruit coolers and frappés.
There are many keen entrepreneurs about to open their first café/coffee shop, what would be your one piece of advice for them?
There are many bits of advice I could give, but here are a few key ones:
• Make sure the outside of your shop is attractive and entices customers across the threshold
• Good signage is also vital to getting the customers through the door
• Effectively merchandising your products opulently and attractively is vital to making that sale
• Keep a close eye on the costs involved in producing your food and drinks.
Flavoured drinks have become fashionable, with the top coffee chains now creating seasonal recipes with a range of syrups. What would be your top tip for operators trying to stand out from the crowd?
Syrups can be very simple ways of extending your menu, just by adding a flavour to an existing drink, but I would encourage people to be a little more adventurous creating completely new combinations. Make sure to market them well though.
Research suggests 37% of customers would choose caramel as their first choice of flavouring syrup, what would yours be?
Perhaps Chai in the winter, but in the summer something refreshing, Passion Fruit Syrup simply mixed with soda water!
In your opinion, where can we find the best coffee in the UK?
I can remember when it was hard to put a top ten list of outstanding UK cafes together. Now we have loads. London clearly has many serious coffee spots now but most major cities throughout the country have a fair few notable places serving quality coffee.
We interviewed you two years ago, and your top highlight of 2013 was launching the SCAE barista qualifications in Nice. How has that developed over the last couple of years?
The Coffee Diploma System from the SCAE has grown hugely over the last couple of years and is well on the way to establishing itself as THE qualification for those in the coffee industry. It is encouraging to see that it is now endorsed by many different countries and many well respected baristas.
And finally, after a busy day at work where would we find you relaxing?
Huddersfield has a world renown craft brewer called Magic Rock. They have just opened a tap room at their new brewery which serves an amazing range of beers!