12 Posts

For well over a century, the wet milling of coffee was a water intensive process, as the name indicates, and there was little concern for water consumption and contamination. In the conventional technology then prevailing and still used in many areas today, water is used in flotation, to separate over-ripe and dry cherries from the ripe ones, in pulping, to remove the pulp, in mucilage removal, carried out by natural fermentation or friction in machines, and in the transport of coffee and by-products (e. g.: pulp).

The growing concern for the environment in the last quarter of the twentieth century led to the questioning of the use and contamination of so much water – often 10 m³ per ton of green coffee – in the wet processing of coffee. The technological reactions to environmental concerns came in different ways.

Water Recycling – The first and more obvious reaction was to recycle waste water after some sort of “treatment”, primarily settling and/or filtering to remove solid matter that could otherwise clog the system.

Dry Transport – Another obvious reaction was to move away from transporting coffee with the help of water. The solution was to use gravity wherever possible (e.g.: dry reception hoppers) and, most importantly, to avoid the transport of coffee with water in channels and pipes using instead mechanized options, like conveyors and elevators.

Semi-dry and Dry Pulping – Next came the drastic reduction and even the elimination of water in pulping; since the pulp is rich in water, it was found that the friction or tearing process that removes the pulp from around the coffee bean could take place with the addition of little or no water. The low-water-consumption and dry pulpers used today are not very different from the conventional “wet” ones. The technical changes, started in the late 1980s, are mostly related to facilitating the flow of coffee and pulp in the absence of “lubricating” water. Several technologies and types of such new pulpers are now available in the market.

Mechanical Removal of Mucilage – The last frontier of water reduction and/or elimination remains in the removal of the mucilage that sticks to the parchment skin that involves the coffee bean. The original technique of breaking down the mucilage layer by means of natural fermentation in tanks with or without water followed by washing was progressively combined with and even replaced by the removal of mucilage by friction in several types of machines that were also water intensive in the past but are quite water efficient now. Although mucilage removers have been around for over a century, it was only in the last 2 or 3 decades that low water consumption models became available, with emphasis not only on water savings but also on full removal of mucilage and minimum damage to coffee.

Although there is little debate today about the impacts on coffee quality of water recycling and the reduction of its use in transport, floating and pulping, even though bean damage may increase with dry pulping, the debate is still far from settled in what regards water conservation in mucilage removal. This is the step that by far still consumes and contaminates the most water.

There are expert cuppers who insist that fermentation is the only way to enhance specific cup features, e. g.: acidity, especially in high-grown coffee. They argue that mechanical mucilage removal is yet to produce the same results in these cases although the cup differences may subsidize and even disappear as altitude drops. However, on the other side of the argument, there are studies that show that given the difficulties to control the natural process of fermentation, mechanical removal may, on the average, produce better quality coffee.

Yet other studies show that natural fermentation for a few hours followed by mechanical removal, which causes water consumption to fall substantially, may yield the same cup quality in most altitudes. It may become unavoidable that mainstream, high quality and even specialty washed coffee processing will progressively resort on full or partial mechanical removal of mucilage. Natural fermentation is likely to remain the option for less and less coffee whose price will have to eventually reflect the cost of treating the waste water generated by its process.


If you plan to open your own café, the coffee shop floor plan will be the most important decision you make. In many states, shop owners will need to submit floor plans in order to get a permit for new restaurant construction. This means that before the physical work – demolition, electrical work, plumbing, and appliance installation – you’ll need to have your floor plan strategy drafted and ready to go.

If you’ve spent enough time in coffee shops, you’ve probably picked up on a few trends. There’s a point of sale, a counter, a behind-the-counter workspace, seating, and, likely, a small and well-curated retail section. But unless you’ve created a shop yourself, you might not know the logic behind these sections’ placement. Optimizing your floor space will take a bit of creativity, a few compromises, and a lot of measuring. Here are a few strategies to consider.

Understand the dimensions. Your retail design will rely entirely on the size and dimensions of your space. According to Total Food Service, you’ll want about 15 square feet dedicated to each customer to keep guests comfortable. This takes into account the space needed for traffic aisles, the counter, and point of sale. Nobody likes an uncomfortably cozy coffee shop, so this rule of thumb is an important one to follow. That’s unless, of course, you’re trying to do the European-standing-room-only café concept.

Once you’ve determined how much seating you want to comfortably provide, you can start to think about what else you want to include. A sales shelf next to the cash register? Separate pick-up and drop-off spaces? All of that will come after you plan the seating.

Keep the entrance zone separate from the interior space. The entrance zone is a potential customer’s first impression of your shop. This sets the curb appeal, but also the friendliness of the space when they first enter. Unless you can’t help it, you don’t want customers opening the front door and landing directly in front of your point of sale. Instead, you’ll want to give a bit more space; the customer will want to stand back, observe the menu, and take a look around before committing to a product.

The interior space begins a step or two inside the shop. This is where you’ll want to do most of the designing. Do you want to give your customer space to move around comfortably? How much space do you want between tables? This is where you’ll need to start answering those tough questions.

Figure out your point of sale and retail space. Starbucks has taught us that customers are likely to purchase small food items at the last minute, especially when they’re close to the point of sale. This is called point-of-purchase merchandising, and it’s a great way to up your retail revenue. That said, be aware of which items you want close to the cash register. The coffee bar and register are often the focal point in a coffee shop. You want to make sure the area is both appealing and functional. Put simply, don’t crowd the register with last-minute purchases if it there isn’t sufficient space.

If you’re selling larger items, like bags of coffee, brewing devices, mugs, and other accessories, you might want to keep this merchandise on a separate shelf. Providing a different space for retail will allow customers to spent time with the items to make thoughtful purchases. Plus, you’ll have a built-in wall decoration, additional counter space, and the ability to sell items instead of just foodstuffs.

Consider using a software. If you don’t want to leave your floor plan to chance, or if you like data-driven recommendations, consider investing in a store planning software. This type of product can help café owners optimize shelf space, utilize merchandising best practices, and help collaborate with other retailers and suppliers on larger projects. Store planning software will help shop owners identify the performance contribution for every inch of space in your coffee shop – no matter how tiny it may be. You’ll get actionable insights and recommendations to boost your sales and make the most of your space.

Planogram software can be especially important for coffee merchandisers and roasteries working with grocery stores; using sales data, you can help maximize sales in their coffee section. This will boost their sales for that category, which means they’ll likely want to increase stock orders from you. With a bit of data analysis, both you and your stockist can boost revenue.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) has recently held a seminar on trends in new coffee consuming markets. The event identified relevant issues that will definitely shape the future of coffee consumption and possibly affect supply.

Please find below many surprising and interesting facts about fast expanding markets such as Korea, Russia, Vietnam, China and Colombia shared by professionals* directly involved with the coffee business, and Brazil, added by us, which provide a background for important discussions about the types and qualities of coffees to be demanded in the near future.

– The Korean coffee market, a US$ 3.7 billion business, is driven by three main trends: instant coffee (39% share), coffee shops (37%) and ready-to-drink coffee preparations (24%).
– Roasted coffee which used to represent only 5% of the total consumption represents 15%.
– Coffee culture is rapidly expanding among youngsters; there are already 16,000 coffee shops in the country, the vast majority owned by local brands and not part of chains or franchises.

– Coffee consumption in Russia grew 11% in the last 8 years.
– Consumption totals 3.6 million bags; per capita consumption is estimated to be 800 grams per year, with a lot of growth potential.
– Soluble coffee corresponds to 70% of the market, with massive preference for freeze dried products and “3 in 1” coffee mixes.
– Roast & ground coffee is still perceived as a gourmet product, and expensive for the majority of the Russian population.

– Consumption grows fast driven by soluble coffee and coffee shops.
– Soluble coffee responds for almost all coffee consumption at home.
– There were roughly 2,000 coffee outlets in China; today there are approximately 15,000 shops, between domestic and international chains.

– Economic development, an expanding middle class and a young population contribute to coffee consumption growth, specially of “3 in 1” instant coffee mixes.
– Although established local coffee chains like Trung Nguyen have strong presence, international chains opened many stores in Vietnam in recent years, including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Gloria Jean’s and Starbucks (the latter opened its very first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in February).

– Domestic coffee consumption resumed growth greatly due to the efforts of Toma Café, a promotional program being implemented by a coalition of companies (based on strategic guidelines designed with the assistance of P&A).
– Consumption is consistently growing 1% per year.
– Although R&G is the choice for the majority of Colombians, soluble coffee continues to gain share.

– Today the world’s second largest consuming country (over 20 million bags) and not a new market but consumption expands at emerging market rates of 3% per year.
– The market is vastly dominated by R&G and there is rapid growth of out-of-home consumption.
– Espresso is the fastest growing beverage due to its ubiquitous presence in neighborhood bakeries, coffee shops and offices.
– Single dose machines are aggressively entering the market and being adopted by the middle and upper classes.

The trends above – greater consumption of Robustas in soluble than Arabicas in coffee shops – show that there are fertile grounds for the expansion of the Robusta supply in the near future. However, a word of caution, these emerging markets still respond for a relatively small portion of global coffee demand and soluble coffee accounts for less than one sixth of world consumption. Nevertheless the tendency to consume more Robusta is compounded by its increasing participation in R&G blends in order to not increase coffee prices, especially in countries still affected by the economic crisis like the traditional markets of the US, EU and Japan. The growth of Brazilian consumption, today equally divided between Arabica and Robusta, also contributes to push the demand for Robusta coffee up.

A bright prospect for Robustas does not necessarily mean a bleak prospect for Arabicas. World consumption is expected to continue to grow at a solid rate of 2% per year or more and although Robusta demand may grow faster, the smaller growth of Arabicas will be on a larger base. Since Robustas replace primarily lower quality Arabicas, the supply scenario is set for now and the immediate future: a permanent search for quality in Arabicas and Robustas, in the former to guarantee its space and to conquer new consumers and in the latter to ensure that substitution can continue even after soluble consumers eventually migrate to R&G.


Cold brew coffee has become the go-to warm weather coffee drink. Gone are the days of $1.50 iced coffees from Dunkin Donuts; now coffee fans spend as much as $6 on a medium cold brew. Popular national and international chains have picked up on the trend, too. Starbucks has several variations of cold brew, most of which cost around $5 for a grande/medium. Even 7-Eleven is capitalizing on the trend, advertising their new and improved cold brew coffee at most stores in America.


If you’ve been into an American coffee shop in the past couple of years, you’ve noticed the extreme price difference between iced coffee and cold brew. You’ve also likely wondered about that mark-up; is it because the coffee is actually better, or is it because shops want to cash in on a popular trend? Well, it’s a little bit of both.


There’s no question that cold brew’s popularity is driving the price. Both chain and independently-owned coffee shops understand that their customers are more likely to opt for a cold brew in 2018, and adding an extra $0.50 to the price can result in several hundred dollars of additional revenue on a good summer day. Increasing the price just a bit can have a lasting impact, turning a usually tough coffee season into an incredibly lucrative few months. However, we can’t blame the high price of cold brew on greedy business owners.


Cold brew is exceedingly expensive to produce. To make this coffee, baristas must soak a lot of coffee. A good rule of thumb is to grind around 1 cup of grounds and add to 4 cups of cold water. That ratio is significantly different from a usual drip; it uses roughly 4x more coffee beans than a standard cup of iced coffee. Though the coffee is meant to be watered down a bit (this brewing method produces a coffee concentrate), the production cost is still way higher than the standard cup.


While you may remain frustrated with high cold brew costs, it’s important to know that producing this type of brew is a huge cost for most coffee shops. If you’ve never tried it, get an extra small and see what you think—the taste is a lot stronger and more complex than the standard iced coffee, but it’s not for everybody. If you love the brew but can’t justify the purchase, try making your own cold brew concentrate. It’s a lot cheaper, and you can adjust your concentrate-to-water ratio very easily.


Purchasing an espresso machine is an intimidating affair. Ever-escalating price tags and added mechanical flourishes require hours of research in order to find a machine that works for you and your shop or personal needs. Don’t get overwhelmed—the right machine is out there. This guide should help steer you in the right direction for the type of machine you want to buy.


Espresso machines come in four categories: manual, semi-automatic, full automatic, and super automatic. Before making a purchase, as yourself what exactly you want. Here is a list of questions you should ask before making any decisions:


  • Do you need additional bells and whistles, or are you interested in just straight espresso-making?
  • How many drinks do you want to churn out in a pull?
  • How often will you make drinks?
  • Will you need to manually fill the machine’s water reservoir?
  • What type of power supply do you have?


So, what can you get for your money? There are often three price points to consider, and each is separated by a different boiler configuration and accompanying mechanicals:


Machines under $1,000 are often single-boiler, dual-use setups. They use a single thermostat to control water temperature, and they can’t brew and steam milk simultaneously.


Machines above the $1,000 mark are mostly single-boiler, heat-exchanger machines. They feature a larger boiler that keeps water at or around 240 degrees Fahrenheit, making is possible to both brew and steam simultaneously.


Machines at or over the $2,000 mark often feature two separate boilers for simultaneous brewing and steaming. Though this may seem like the best way to go if you’re making an investment, keep in mind that most North American 110V power outlets can’t always handle the needs of these machines.


When making your decision, pay attention to the intricacies of the machine. How easy will it be to clean and maintain it? What is the maximum pump pressure, and if it’s self-priming, what type of boiler setup does it have? These variables will determine the effort and time necessary to make single drinks.

If your interest in coffee is strong enough, you may be considering opening your own shop. This process is, understandably, not as easy as it may appear. The key to coffee shop success, regardless of location, is to keep production costs as low as possible. You’ll have to do a lot of research on products, tools, and consumption trends, and you’ll need to figure out where to get the best shop equipment on the market.


When you’re ready to start making equipment purchases, you may wonder where to begin. This list is curated to reflect what most shops have upon opening. In includes standard equipment as well as a few items you may otherwise neglect.


Automatic Drip Machines—Standard drip brews are the bread and butter of coffee shops; block coffee will account for some 30% of your store’s sales, so you want to invest in a coffee maker that will pull its weight. When choosing, ensure your model is durable enough to produce a high quantity, quick enough to meet demand for busy times, and large enough to produce sizeable batches. Most successful coffee shop owners suggest keeping three or four blends available at a time.


An Espresso Machine—Most coffee drunks customers are likely to order have espresso. You’ll need an excellent espresso machine to meet both production and taste standards. Understand what makes a good espresso machine, and shop smart. Industrial espresso machines can cost a lot of money, so be sure to know what you’re getting into. For additional reference, see our Guide to Shopping for an Espresso Machine.


An Industrial Coffee Grinder—Most shops will keep unground beans in inventory. This will allow them to stay fresher for longer periods of time. Adding an industrial grinder to your shop equipment list is essential for producing great, fresh coffee.


Refrigeration System—You’ll need to keep food and dairy products fresh. This requires refrigeration in both display cases and in units behind the bar. When designing your shop, be sure to consider where and how you will install your refrigeration system.


All other coffee shop equipment—from food products and glassware to shelving and toasters—should be purchased after these initial tools. The rest of your purchases will depend on the type of coffee shop you want to run. Do you want to offer food and smoothies? How much merchandise do you want to sell? Answering these questions should provide a guide for your remaining equipment purchases.

Whether you’re a coffee professional or a passionate recreational lover, extraction tastings are imperative for introducing yourself (or clients!) to a new coffee product. Hosting extraction tastings is an excellent way to draw customers into your shop, and doing them on your own is a great way to better understand the complexity of coffee flavor. To do an extraction, all you’ll need is coffee, scales, a grinder, and an espresso machine—tools you likely already have if you’re reading this blog. You can run experiments with any coffee and grinder.

I recommend starting with a typical espresso recipe. The flavors will likely be balanced, providing you a great “middle of the road” taste for the experiment. Don’t worry about shot times; as long as your grinder is calibrated to make the typical recipe taste great, size and time won’t really matter. The trick here is to make espresso to weight. To do this, grind, weigh, distribute, and tamp your usual dose into the basket, making sure to be as accurate as possible with dose weight. Tare your cup on a small set of scales. Start the espresso shot and place the cup and scales beneath the spouts. As the espresso begins to brew, the weight will increase. Stop the shot when the scale reads between two and six grams less than your target yield. Follow this process to make seven espressos with the same dose and different yields. I like to use intervals of 4 grams (a typical espresso yield is 40g).


Now, it is time to dilute. The longest shot will be the weakest, so you should dilute all other espressos down to the same concentration. The shortest shot will be strongest, so it will need the most water. Add appropriate amounts of water to each espresso so they are roughly the same number of grams. At the end of the process, you will have seven espressos of similar strengths but with very different extractions.


Now comes the fun part: the tasting! You will now have a neat flight of espressos. The first two will be the most aggressive, and the middle (the fourth) will be the “correct” balance. Taste each and record anything that comes to mind. This is a great activity for coffee professionals and enthusiasts, and I hope you enjoy the tasting process!


Name: Bellden Cafe

Neighborhood: Bellevue

This café serves up quality coffee with a charitable twist: they support a rotating cast of local nonprofit organizations. They offer these nonprofits a space to discuss their work, providing café staff as volunteers, and donating proceeds from the sale of specialty items. In addition to coffee, visitors can enjoy pastries, sandwiches, salads, acai bowls, and toasts.


Name: Espresso Vivace

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

For anyone looking to make the journey to Seattle on a genuine coffee pilgrimage, you simply must stop by for an espresso drink at Vivace. Co-founder and coffee legend David Schomer revolutionized the industry by customizing his espresso machines to create a more consistent heating temperature. Along with extra shots but light pulls and a distinct silky-style microfoam in the milk-based espresso drinks, it’s no fluke that chef Emeril Lagasse called Espresso Vivace “one of the best coffees I ever had in my life…”

Name: Metropolis Coffee

Neighborhood: Edgewater

Metropolis is a coffee shop and roastery that services much of the greater Chicago area. They believe that great coffee comes from a line of respect, beginning with bean farmers and the love of their land. They pay fair prices for harvest (direct-trade) and offer a range of brewing methods: pour-over, Japanese cold brew, and standard drip. Their prices are some of the most affordable around. The shop is conveniently located (just off the Granville red line stop) and boasts three rooms of tables, chairs, and couches. Each room seems to have a “set” volume level—the entrance is noisy, the second room is full of discussion, and the farthest room is full of people quietly reading and writing.



Name: Oromo Café

Neighborhood: Lincoln Square

The newly-opened Oromo Café is like the United Nations of coffee—their espresso and coffee drinks feature flavors from around the world, including India, Turkey, Madagascar, and Ethiopia. You can ask the barista to spike your beverage with superfoods, such as spirulina, for an added boost of nutrition. My personal favorite is the pistachio-rose latte; it’ll run you around the price of a beer at a local bar, but it’s a can’t-miss drink. You can also get traditionally-brewed Turkish coffee and Iraqi teas.


Name: Barismo

Neighborhood: mid-Cambridge

Formerly called “Dwelltime,” this neighborhood café boasts plentiful seating, fine coffees, pastries, a weekend brunch menu, and affordable lunch options. Unlike in other Cambridge spots, you won’t have to fight Harvard and MIT students for a seat. However, be warned: they do not offer WiFi. This, however, makes for a cozy atmosphere—you’ll spot people reading and talking quietly throughout the café. They have outposts throughout the city, meaning you can pick up a cup of Barismo coffee in several spots throughout the Boston metropolitan area.