No picture of a busy office would be complete without employees slurping cups of coffee as they type up their reports and sit in their morning meetings. Coffee motivates employees and boosts alertness, and in doing so, it results in increased productivity.
Over time, businesses and facilities management companies have been waking up to this and providing even better office coffee-making facilities for staff. In many competitive industries, gone is the supermarket-brand instant coffee that you used to find in the office kitchen. Instead, management stocks the cupboards with pods and even high-quality, freshly roasted whole bean coffees.
But this begs the question: with good coffee in the office, will busy employees stop running to the local coffee shop in their lunch break? Could office coffee represent a threat to the speciality café?
Office Coffee Gets an Upgrade
“These days, employees have much more mobility,” says Karl Purdy, owner of the Irish roastery and retailer Coffeeangel. He believes that employees now expect not only a pay cheque but also a positive working environment.
And for many employees, good coffee is an important part of the office environment. (In fact, according to the Staples 2016 Employee Coffee Survey, one in four workers would rather drink a cup of coffee every day than go on their annual vacation.)
What’s more, as Karl points out, if an employee is queuing up at the coffee shop, they’re not working. It’s in employers’ best interests to provide good coffee.
So, it’s no surprise that the coffee is getting an upgrade in many offices. WeWork, an office and event space provider, is a great example of this: not only do they supply super-fast internet, private phone booths, and online customer service, but they also offer micro-roasted coffees at every location.
Commercial coffee equipment manufacturers also share credit for this new trend, as they launch products designed to make café-quality coffee even easier to brew. Modern coffee-makers offer quality, precision, and ease of use. Take the Marco Jet6: users can set their own recipe for this batch brewer, which has an automated, intelligent grinder and offers temperature accuracy, cost-per-cup control and energy efficiency. With tools like this, excellence in coffee beverage preparation becomes easy – even in the office.
In fact, even those offices who don’t wish to invest in coffee equipment are still looking into ways of providing quality coffee for their employees. Karl explains that companies can outsource or subsidise kiosks and canteens within the building. Generally, the catering company will hire the staff, supply commercial coffee brewers and equipment, set it up, and maintain quality standards.
“They are putting in pretty equipment and beautiful coffees sourced from very good roasters,” he says.
Should Coffee Shops Worry?
“In my experience with internal speciality coffee kiosks and canteen setups, they are subsidised by the employer,” Karl tells us. “[The coffee is] generally either free or a whole a lot cheaper… if we sell it for €3 and they offer it for €1, we can’t compete with that.”
In other words, yes, quality office coffee could affect speciality coffee shops.
“Not only are we now competing against the shop around the street or around the corner, we are competing against the office building across the street, or beside us, or above us,” Karl stresses.
So, what’s the solution? As Karl says, “Simply get better.”
How Can Speciality Coffee Shops Compete?
He advises that coffee shop owners always try to offer the highest-quality product possible. What’s more, the ambiance and customer service need to be excellent.
After all, the office might provide good coffee, but it’s still going to have that office lighting and those desk chairs.
“In a lot of respects, [quality office coffee] just keeps us on our toes…” Karl says. “We constantly need to be looking at how we can improve.”
From coffee shop design to barista training, there are many ways cafés can create an attractive space. Consider the layout, choice of music, and amount of interaction between the customer and the barista. Equipment such as the Marco MIX, a multi-temperature water boiler and font, will allow staff to face the customer while brewing pour over coffee and teas. A well-trained barista can then use this time to engage them, giving them information about the product being prepared and served.
Ultimately, running a successful coffee shop comes down to satisfied customers. And when workplaces are also providing excellent coffee, cafés need to offer their regulars something extra. “So, build a lovely coffee shop; hire talented, friendly, service-focused baristas; and brew really well,” Karl says. “I think that’s the secret.”
What About Other Office Beverages?
Whilst office coffee is growing in popularity, what about other beverages in the office? For years Facilities Management and POU (point-of-use) water companies have offered the standard office water fountains, often big, bulky and reliant on large plastic water drums. Today employers want to offer their staff more than just cold water from a tap and are introducing fresh, healthy beverage options as standard. For example WeWork supply cold brew coffee and kombucha on tap, whilst Airbnb provides home-made wine, beer, lemonade and a whole host of speciality beverages to their lucky employees.
To meet this increasing need, Marco have developed the FRIIA, hot, cold and sparkling water system. With a sleek, brushed metal countertop font and modular undercounter machines, FRIIA gives offices the ability to provide fresh, varied beverage choice without compromising on space or aesthetic.
Want to learn more about Marco brewers or the Marco FRIIA? Contact us.