Have you ever considered what the workday would be like without coffee service? No? Well, neither have I. And Chicago employers don’t want to see that happen either.
According to a recent report by Emily Refermat, Editor at Automatic Merchandiser, “employers are taking it [coffee] to the next level, spending money to bring in quality coffee, beverages and other refreshment. Due to an increasing number of options, including single-cup brewers, OCS [Office Coffee Service] providers are able to create a solution tailored to their customers wants, size and budget, while still keeping good margins.”
There is, however, one important factor to consider when determining the best possible solution—don’t treat coffee like it is a commodity.
A coffee bean is actually a seed from the coffee tree. The two types of coffee species that are used for coffee are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica represents 70 percent of the world’s coffee and Robusta represents the other 30 percent. Of the two types, Arabica is the more expensive one and is used in specialty coffees. Arabica grows at higher altitudes on steeper terrain at cooler temperatures and is more disease-prone. Robusta is primarily used in coffee blends and instant coffee. A hardier tree, the Robusta is more resistant to diseases, can withstand warmer temperatures and is grown at lower and more accessible altitudes.
For Chicago’s office coffee service, there are several different types of suppliers:
- locally roasted coffee: the brand is known to local consumers; 31.1 percent of OCS sales
- national coffee brands – value: the beans are sourced from different locations, and are mixed, processed, roasted, and ground on a large scale; 28.3 percent of OCS sales
- national coffee brands – specialty: the beans are from a single location, grown to produce a higher quality bean, and roasted on a smaller scale; 21 percent of OCS sales
- espresso coffee – a concentrated form of coffee made by forcing pressurized, hot water through very finely ground coffee beans; 8.9 percent of OCS sales
Packaging & Brewers
Options for packaging and brewing can be just as varied as the different types of coffee. In an office coffee service, coffee is packaged using several different methods: frac pack (enclosed filters filled with pre-measured amounts of coffee), whole bean, single cup (non k-cup), and k-cup. While the packaging can dictate the type of brewer required—single-cup packaging requires a single-cup machine, for example—often the two are separate decisions.
Today, pour-over coffee brewers and automatic brewers continue to play an important role in many Chicago break rooms. Single-cup brewers, however, are slowly finding their own place. Emily Refermat wrote that “consumers love the idea of brewing coffee one cup at a time. Whether it is the novelty, the ability to brew a personal hot beverage choice, create an espresso-based drink conveniently at work or the newest, must-have OCS innovation, single-cup attracts consumers, despite the fact that it costs more per cup.”
An alternative to the single-cup brewer, and a potentially a less expensive option, is the bean-to-cup brewer. When a Chicago employee orders a drink, the appropriate amount of whole beans is dropped into the grinder, ground, and brewed to the drink’s specifications. It’s a gourmet coffee shop and single-cup brewer all rolled into one.
Offering coffee service in your office break room is a great benefit for future and current employees, but don’t forget about other popular Chicago employee benefits. Micro-markets, cashless pantry, water filtration services or healthy vending machine choices are popular additions. For more information about adding or updating any of these options, call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216. We look forward to hearing from you.