There is even a brewer feature comparison chart that lists the features, functions, benefits, concerns and average cost per cup for five different delivery systems: glass pots, carafes, hopper systems, Flavia and Keurig.
Dual focus: small retail and office accounts
The dual focus on small retail establishments and offices has proven very successful.
The foodservice foundation was helpful for Karsay Coffee as some of the foodservice coffee brewing technology transitioned to OCS applications in the late 1990s.
Many East Coast restaurants were adding espresso and cappuccino. To meet this need, Karsay Coffee first offered Nestlé Nespresso, a portion controlled, single-cup system, then switched to Lavazza's Espresso Point. "This (cartridge-based espresso) takes all the guess work out (for a restaurant wait staff)" Rich Karsay said.
Karsay Coffee was successful placing Espresso Points in restaurants and delis, particularly in locations that served first-generation Italian and Portuguese immigrants. "That was our first experience with espresso in a cartridge-like machine," Rich Karsay said.
Restaurants have distinct equipment needs
"That began the search for something to help foam the milk (for cappuccino)," he noted. To improve the quality of the cappuccino, Karsay Coffee began adding a dedicated milk steamer next to the Espresso Point. While the Espresso Point has a built-in steamer wand, it was not sufficient for high volume locations that wanted to serve cappuccino.
Lavazza, an Italy-based manufacturer, was just getting started in the U.S. market in the late 1990s and assisted the Karsays finding locations for the Lavazza Espresso Point.
When Lavazza closed its U.S. parts and service operation in 2002, Karsay Coffee purchased the inventory and became a Lavazza master distributor for New Jersey,
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Karsay Coffee now services Lavazza units owned and operated by Karsay and its "subdistributors." Karsay Coffee presently services about 25 Lavazza "subdistributors."
The Lavazza Espresso Point also found a place in some offices. Because the offices did less volume than restaurants, it was not necessary to place a separate milk steamer to provide cappuccino; the Espresso Point steamer wand is sufficient.
While the Espresso Point addressed the espresso/cappuccino market, that market was limited. However, Karsay Coffee's experience placing the Espresso Point prepared it for the cartridge-based coffee brewers that were about to proliferate in offices in the late 1990s.
In 1999, Karsay Coffee became one of the first Keurig distributors in New Jersey. The response was immediate and Karsay Coffee quickly became a leading Keurig distributor in Central New Jersey. The 30- to 50-person office market proved more profitable and less service intensive than the foodservice business. About 75 percent of all of Karsay's office accounts have a single-cup machine.
"That (single-cup brewer) came along right as we were looking to do something different," Rich Karsay surmised.
Foodservice and office synergies
While the biggest growth is currently in the office market, Karsay Coffee continues to service a lot of foodservice accounts. The company has found a strong synergy between the two businesses.
Karsay Coffee runs four trucks a day, each delivering products to offices, retail foodservice and institutional foodservice accounts. Customers fax, phone or e-mail orders to Karsay Coffee, which calls customers two days in advance.
Combined institutional/office accounts are particularly profitable, Rich Karsay noted. Many large institutional accounts have a need for both foodservice and office coffee.
In one hospital, Karsay Coffee handles all the coffee for patient feeding, employee feeding, customer lounges and staff offices. The equipment includes coffee urns, single-cup brewers, liquid-based coffee dispensers, and water soluble coffee systems; a total of 50 machines.
Large institutional accounts often prefer to have one coffee expert handle the cafeteria, catering, retail and employee coffee needs.