Article written by Nathan Wakeford | Somage Co-Founder, USA Sales Director
There is a definite move toward specialty or craft products around the world, the most notable of which in cafes and coffee shops is specialty coffee. Yet there are other areas of food and drink served in cafes that have not yet gone through the specialty revolution in the USA as has occurred in other developed countries, which provides a unique opportunity for the courageous and willing.
This article offers some insight into the common misconceptions that are holding back the progress of specialty tea in coffee shops and how, if you are a business that serves tea and coffee, you can make a genuine positive difference in your business instead of falling prey to the misconceptions that may have you missing great opportunities.
Many coffee shop owners have an awareness of the importance of quality and a specialized coffee knowledge that helps to attract customers and create a successful business. Coffee preparation and service underwent a transformation over a decade ago with the advent of specialty coffee associations, origin trips, barista championships and quality certifications. This transition changed consumption preferences from instant coffee and commodity coffee to specialty coffees which are now prevalent in coffeeshops today.
In a growing number of countries, tea has undergone a similar transformation, albeit at a slower pace, with access to expert knowledge not being as widely available. As a result, consumer experience and ultimately tea sales for cafes has suffered.
Convenience has also been valued at a premium to quality and taste, and the overall service experience for tea in the majority of coffee shops all too often has not been an enticing one –– the prevalence of tea bags, absence of specialized brewing equipment and hiding the tea at the end of drink menus without descriptions are testament to this. For too many coffee shops, tea is not considered a serious contributor to a venue’s revenue, yet in my experience poor tea sales are a result of a self fulfilling prophecy. Businesses that don’t value tea are not motivated to create a valued experience for their customers and sales suffer accordingly.
Disinterest or lack of enthusiasm for tea might be a consequence of the common misconception that a coffee-focused business will somehow diminish their positioning if they are seen to do tea as well as their coffee. Comments like, “we don’t really focus on tea” create a culture of apathy, leading to an underwhelming experience for the customer which presents the business negatively to consumers who do enjoy tea.
Investing in higher quality tea, taking care and control of the variables in tea infusion, and presenting and promoting your tea offerings in an informed way will create better tasting beverages and increase sales. There is a new method of precision tea brewing that involves a more interactive approach to preparation and service which has proven results in supporting coffee shops to achieve dramatic increases in the amount of tea they sell, and with great returns to the bottom line. Many coffee shops are surprised by how much their tea sales increased, increases of 200-300% are not uncommon. An increase in 20 unit tea sales per day can return as much as $400 additional profit per week to the businesses’ revenue.
Employing a professional approach to all aspects of service also reinforces the positioning and standards of the business, and is shown to create raving fans –– the customer who comes for tea, leaves as impressed as the customer who loved their coffee.
This knowledge is now available for businesses who wish to take advantage of the opportunity and the good news is that many of the disciplines for professional tea service are already in place as they are similar to those for coffee. These disciplines, if adapted for the preparation of tea, create a comparable service experience for tea consumers as is currently enjoyed by coffee lovers, one that tea lovers greatly appreciate.
You might be curious to where the evidence is from what I am sharing?
Over the past 12 years I have built an international tea business serving more than 2,500 leading cafes and restaurants, partnering with industry pioneers and innovator, supporting them to increase tea sales in their business.
The results are real. The knowledge that forms the basis of the strategies and systems we share has been gained through visits to more than 160 tea estates, designing a precision method of tea brewing and having worked in cafes and coffee shops for the past 24 years. I’ve seen the approach to tea change across many industries and countries as an official Envoy of Tea Culture for Guizhou Province in China, a founder of The World Tea Brewing Championship, The AustralAsian Specialty Tea Association, and in the process of building my company from a lounge-room startup to a multi-million dollar global Specialty Beverage Company.
This month, in collaboration with Slayer Espressp, we will share the knowledge that has helped businesses like yours to go to the next level in their tea service. If you are curious to explore how you might enhance your service and increase your sales, please reach out to us and come to our next industry event which will be hosted in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle at:
Slayer Studio & Showroom
80 South Washington
Studio # 304 Seattle, WA 98104
The two industry-only sittings are being held on Wednesday January 23rd at 2pm and 5pm. Space is limited so please reserve your place now. RSVP by email [email protected] by Wednesday 16th January, 2019.
The event is free to attend, however the knowledge we share is sure to be of genuine benefit to your staff and business. It is likely to be a sensory experience that might introduce you to a realm and appreciation of tea beyond your experience to date.
I look forward to seeing you there!