Joe On The Job Guest Column

Welcome to the first Joe on the Job guest column. For the debut edition, we took a quick coffee break to catch up with Jonathan Peters, executive vice president of ARAMARK Refreshment Services. In this role, he is responsible for the leadership of the company’s refreshment services business in the U.S. and Canada. Here, Peters shares his views on the coffee service and related industry segments for the year ahead.

Q: What is your view of the most important trends we’ll see in coffee service for 2013?
Peters: Overall, we’ll see continued growth and a movement towards single cup service. This includes milk-based products. As consumers, we are all looking for a coffee-shop experience in our workplaces and this includes the expectation for a broad selection of coffee-related offerings, including cappuccinos and lattes.

Looking to 2013 and beyond, it’s important to recognize that creating the coffee shop experience is really an important, quantifiable benefit to employees – and business owners -- everywhere. The “coffee experience” is where we take a breath and interact with colleagues in a more informal, personal way. It’s a place and a time in the work day employees can feel more like people and less like workers.

I also think it’s important to mention that the consumer’s taste profile has continued to evolve and mature. Workspaces of today are designed specifically with open spaces to foster collaboration, idea-sharing and discussion. It goes without saying that this facet of the workplace is particularly important for Gen Y and the millennial generation who have grown up with the coffee house experience.

Another very exciting trend in refreshment services overall is the very real opportunities in the unattended market space. The growth of micro markets, grab ‘n go concepts featuring fresh, healthy and other convenient dining options, is astounding and it’s going to continue that trajectory.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing you for 2013?
Peters: This business is always fast-moving. A challenge for 2013 is the need to continually demonstrate that the coffee experience is extremely important in a measurable, significant way. We need to position coffee experience not as a cost but as an investment with tremendous ROI and simply one of the best things employers can provide.

If you look at any amenity or employee benefit that’s out there – gym memberships, health and wellness programs, dry cleaners – the list goes on…a refreshment program, specifically a coffee experience, is the least expensive benefit and one of the most important, most meaningful to employees.

Quite simply, office coffee pays off. Employees appreciate it; it increases employee productivity and results in better business outcomes. In terms of engagement and productivity, coffee service is an absolute win-win.

In Northern California, where a number of high profile technology clients are located, they have taken this concept and elevated it to a new level. They are really doing some innovative things with this opportunity and see it as an imperative, a cost of doing business.

Q: Finally, please share your views of the upcoming NAMA Trip to Costa Rica.
Peters: I’m really looking forward to the Costa Rica trip with my NAMA colleagues.
The entire trip to Costa Rica is going to be of value in many ways but with the comprehensive agenda, it is sure to increase our understanding of coffee, from farm to cup.