If you’re back in the office again after working from home, you’ll no doubt be thinking of ways to get office life back to normal – well, as much as possible anyway. Your team’s health and wellbeing will, of course, be the main priority. But simple office perks like providing your team with a premium coffee experience will also help to support your team’s happiness. In a recent survey, we found that 36% of people were missing their office coffee and 46% were missing informal chats to work friends and colleagues – something the office coffee machine has always been a central part of.
We took a short coffee break to chat with our resident Specialty Coffee Association trainer and all-round coffee connoisseur, Scott Barnes, about the things you need to consider when choosing your office coffee experience.
What should people consider when choosing office coffee solutions?
Scott: Firstly there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to coffee. And what works for one customer often won’t work for another. That’s why our FreshGround team, who are SCA-trained, are on hand to guide customers and help them to make the best decisions that are right for them. But overall, in my experience, there are three main factors to consider when choosing an office coffee partner – the application (or brief), the blend and the service level.
Ok, so let’s start with the application – how do we define that?
Scott: Like anything in business, starting out with a good brief is key in providing a clear understanding of an office’s requirements, to get optimum results. We want everyone to be happy and satisfied with their choice of office coffee experience so we tend to run through several questions to understand exactly what they need.
Firstly it’s important to know why the customer wants coffee and how they want to serve it – are they looking for filter coffee for hospitality, or bean-to-cup for their staff so they don’t have to nip out to a high street shop for a good milky coffee? Then there are practical elements, such as understanding the peak times their staff will use the machines, how many employees they’ve got and how many floors they’re split across. Perhaps the customer would prefer two smaller machines at either end of the office rather than one large one, so their staff don’t have to walk far just to get a coffee. Or they may be looking to foster conversation around a central office coffee machine. Maybe they’ve got breakout areas with seating for informal meetings, or just a teapoint where staff can grab a brew and take it back to their desks.
Either way, it’s really important that the customer doesn’t simply spend more, but actually gets the right setup for their needs. The brief is the most important part of ensuring this happens. And having been in the office coffee business for nearly 40 years, we’ve got a lot of experience to draw on in guiding the customer in selecting what’s right for them.
And what about the blend?
Scott: Coffee is such an emotive and personal thing, so it can be a real challenge to opt for just one blend for an office full of people. Provenance and varietal are often factors when choosing a coffee for personal use. But at the end of the day when choosing an office coffee it really comes down to taste – what’s going to be the coffee the majority are happy with; application – filter coffee or bean-to-cup; and, being a business expense, budget. We also encourage people to think about what they want their office coffee to say about their company – to their staff, their clients and their guests. We know that rewarding teams with high-quality coffee not only shows them you care but it can also help to create an impression on the people who visit your office.
Some customers like to buy beans to grind themselves for superbly fresh filter coffee. Other customers will choose two different blends for the office because they’ve got a split of people. Often it’s useful to look at the profile and expectations of your staff or clients here, as coffee preferences can differ a lot across international lines. Some of our customers will consider running a quick employee survey to establish exactly what people would like, and although we know you can’t please everyone all of the time, this can sometimes be a great way to manage expectations and to make the vast majority happy!
We’ve made things really easy with our FreshGround range of coffees and organised them into colour-coded blend families. Lighter on the scale will give you a more fruity and complex coffee experience, which will produce a great cup of filter; whereas the blends at the bolder end of the scale will give a better machine espresso as they have more body.
Finally, you mentioned service and support?
Scott: Service and support are the most critical aspect when making a decision on your office coffee experience. We’ve had a number of new customers come to us having had a less than ideal experience elsewhere, where the equipment and coffee is good quality, but the machine hasn’t been set up properly and they’re getting complaints from staff that their drinks taste bad.
So choosing a supplier who understands coffee is absolutely essential, as they’ll have the knowledge to provide the right setup in the first instance, and also be able to deliver ongoing support if something does go wrong. You need someone you can phone up, who asks the right questions when you tell them that your coffee tastes bad, or you mention that your colleagues are complaining their milky coffees are only filling their cup halfway, for example. Because often it’s something so very simple, but will only be picked up by someone who really understands how coffee works.
Additionally, you need someone who’ll support you in looking after the coffee machine yourself – for example how to clean it, or change scale management filters. Our team offers end-to-end service so we’ll get our customers up and running and then provide service and support throughout their contract. FreshGround customers have our SCA-trained customer experience team on-hand to answer queries and quickly deal with any issues that may arise. Of course, if we need a technician out to take a look, we’ll get on that straight away so offices aren’t without fresh coffee for long!
I’d also add that people should choose an office coffee provider that’s flexible and responsive as well. What I’m saying is that customers need to consider the whole package to determine the best choice of coffee experience for them. People can head over to our TrustPilot page where we hold an Excellent rating to hear what our actual customers are saying about us.
Are you considering your options for office coffee now that people are returning to the workplace? Simply get in touch with our expert team and we’ll be delighted to help you with any of your coffee-related queries! We’re happy to visit offices or invite people to our London showroom for a coffee tasting session where people can learn more about our blends and office coffee machines. Just contact us to organise your free discovery session.