Will You Be The Know-It-All Or The Naysayer?

Dec. 11, 2018

Don't alienate office coffee service (OCS) customers by constantly saying "We don't do that." Instead let your expert knowledge of OCS offerings reinforce the relationship you have and build a long-term partnership. That means getting to know what consumers are demanding elsewhere (such as coastal cities), what manufacturers and suppliers can offer and how you could put the entire program together to produce a decent profit margin. It's not easy, but it is necessary. To begin, here are five things you need to know about before your first client asks.  

The trends your clients are going to ask about 

Cold brew coffee 

Cold brew coffee is still in demand. Not to be confused with iced coffee, cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature water for 12 hours. To make this available to the office, coffee service providers are using kegs, especially as cold brew is made better by adding nitro. Other versions include premeasured coffee in a pod to be made in a pitcher or other vessel. There are also dozens of ready-to-drink varieties available. These come with flavoring and additional elements, such as nitro in the can or association with a national brand of coffee.

Local roasters  

Going local and using a local private label roaster are not the same thing to the consumer. Going local means partnering with a local café that roasts its own coffee. You are showcasing their brand and product, building on their following. This can be difficult because small roasters are making small batches of coffee and find it difficult to roast a consistent bean rapidly and to the quantity needed in OCS. However, just by offering it on your OCS menu and knowing it’s out there, you can stand apart. If a customer does want it, charge accordingly, because it will require extra work in your procurement department.   


Many companies are asking about sustainable products and services. Some of these are committed to the environment and willing to pay a premium for products that are biodegradable or made from certified renewable resources. Offer these items on your OCS accessory list. Just recently a major coffee equipment manufacturer earned Energy Star certification on a commercial coffee brewer, the first to have it. Using this brewer is another way to satisfy the eco-conscious location.  

For companies not willing to pay the extra, there are still sustainability benefits to tout. Traditional coffee, pod coffee brewers and bean-to-cup machines eliminate non-recyclable single-cup coffee packaging. Onsite OCS reduces emissions from employees driving away from the office for coffee, double-walled cups eliminate the need for sleeves, dynamic scheduling reduces the number of delivery vehicles on the road each day, using Fairtrade and similar sustainably sourced coffees, etc.   

Bean-to-cup brewers 

Coffee service providers are calling bean-to-cup one of the fastest growing trends. It offers a fresh, by the cup experience that has built-in coffee flexibility, sustainability and operates using a sophisticated touchscreen. All that comes with a price, however. These machines are large and costs thousands, so it’s imperative you talk to the account about getting a return. Put the minimum coffee purchase in the contract, ask for a rental fee, or both depending on the location, but be prepared with options. Also know the features of a few machines, some can service a large office while other make authentic espresso-based drinks with ease.   

Functional ancillary products 

Functional food is a growing trend. From bulletproof coffee (made with butter and a type of oil that stimulates the brain) to plant-based creamers such as soy. Have a list of some of the latest offerings that have some function ingredient, examples include protein powders, added antioxidants and non-dairy ingredients. Keeping tabs on what’s new in this area will make you look like the expert when a customer asks.