The coffee market has undoubtedly boomed over the past few years, says Elaine Higginson, managing director, First Choice Coffee, with the high-street coffee chains right through to business and industry and quick-service retail offering freshly brewed speciality coffees. However, one part of the hospitality industry that could make more of its coffee is the premium end of the market.
The UK is a fine-dining capital, yet the coffee is often included as a standardised menu item and its quality rarely reflects the fantastic food that has preceded it. While interesting tea flavours have crept on to the menu, such as liquorice and white tea, the coffee - be it an espresso, latte or cappuccino - is often basic and not prepared properly. Restaurateurs could be more adventurous.
By including a signature drink on your menu you can really make an occasion out of your coffee offering. I recently had an affogato correto, a dessert served in a stunning glass that included a shot of grappa and a shot of espresso, which was then poured on to amazing vanilla ice-cream to melt it it was fantastic.
While delivering a good-quality cup of coffee is about the whole package - the equipment, the barista and the presentation - the quality of the ingredients is of huge importance. How the coffee is grown will ultimately affect the quality in the cup and as much consideration should be given to selecting coffees as the wine list and the ingredients used by the chef. By being knowledgeable about the source of its chosen coffees, a restaurant can highlight its commitment to traceability and sustainability.
Serving a coffee should be as big a statement as serving a main course. It's often the last thing a customer consumes in a restaurant, so it should leave a lasting impression. Skill and presentation techniques such as latte art can really give a coffee offer that special touch.
Ultimately, coffee served at the end of a meal should reflect the quality of the whole experience.