With the Food & Catering Zone making its third consecutive appearance at this year’s show, Glee welcomes onboard Blue Cap Coffee as one of the official sponsors.
The internationally acclaimed brand will be on hand to provide garden retailers an unrivalled opportunity to gather best practice examples, advice, contacts and products to help them initiate or improve their catering offering. GTN Food Xtra caught up with the connoisseurs of the perfect Italian espresso’s MD, John Williams, to find out more about them and their much anticipated presence at this year’s show.
Can you give us a short overview of your business and general offering?
Blue Cap Coffee is a recognised supplier of the Lavazza BLUE Concept, an exclusive system which enables garden centre cafes and restaurants to offer an authentic Italian coffee experience. Lavazza BLUE consists of a series of machines and capsules, both created from Lavazza’s century of passion for espresso. The innovative extraction method and sealed single-dose capsules guarantee a real Italian espresso anytime, anywhere to deliver creamy, fragrant perfection.
What can people expect to see from you during the show?
Over the past year, we’ve increased the number of garden centres we supply. We’ve discovered that the capsule concept is particularly successful in an environment that doesn’t require a specialist barista but still demands a quality offering. There’s already significant interest in the Blue Cap offering which we’re hoping to build on. Feedback from our first, Hillview Garden Centre Group, has been overwhelmingly positive and our experience with other garden centres means we should be able to generate even more interest.
At Glee 2014, we’ll have our machines on display at the stands and one machine producing coffee in the Food & Catering Zone. I will be giving a presentation on “How Garden Centres win the Coffee Shop War” which will be a must-see for all garden retailers who want to find out how to maximise their café culture in-store..
What words of advice do you have for any garden retailers wanting to add catering and or a coffee shop to their centre?
In speaking to our existing customers, the two words that crop up time and time again are quality and consistency. There are a myriad of factors that contribute to success – friendly staff, comfortable seating and good décor, for example. Regular customers like to feel ‘ownership’ of their favourite coffee shop – the space should reflect the same qualities that they value in their garden centre. Great, healthy looking plants, guaranteed quality and professional advice easily translate to food and drink that is attractive, consistently good quality and service from helpful people.
What are the biggest challenges for retailers adding a coffee shop to their business? What are the common mistakes made?
Firstly, make sure you choose the location carefully – the space should be attractive, easily accessible, light and welcoming. Don’t spend so much on construction and décor that there’s nothing left when it comes to stocking quality drinks and food.
Secondly, if you are anticipating young families visiting, it may be worth having a seating area with a selection of toys or a books area to make your coffee shop family friendly, without alienating other customers who may prefer a quieter, child-free experience.
Thirdly, establish how many customers per hour you want to serve at your top capacity – then check that your staff and coffee machines are able to manage that.
Fourthly, hire staff that have the right approach to customer service, are enthusiastic, willing and able to be trained.
I’d also suggest using a number of part-time workers so you can offer flexible job shifts to tie in with busy times in the café. On an added note, don’t have long, very complicated menus. Keep it simpler by focusing on quality and consistency of products.
Are there any particular trends that you’ve noticed regarding coffee shops within garden centres? Fair trade or locally sourced for example?
In terms of ethically sourced products, these are expected as standard by customers nowadays, who also expect a great taste and quality of coffee served quickly and consistently. This however isn’t always the case and is often an area of concern for both restaurant managers and customers.
It’s fair to say that the trend for coffee shops in garden centres in general has dramatically shifted over the past few years. Garden centres are now becoming destinations and leisure attractions in their own right for old and young consumers alike – it’s not just a place to purchase plants from anymore. Typically, just 40% of floor space is now dedicated to plants and garden related items, with successful cafes and restaurants contributing up to 50% of turnover. Allegra forecasts the total UK coffee shop market will exceed 20,500 outlets with a turnover of £8.7 billion by 2018, with 4.5% annual outlet growth over the five-year period. That’s incredible!
To find out the latest show news log onto www.gleebirmingham.com or see The Glee Daily News
Blue Cap Coffee at Glee 2014. Stand 17U51.