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The Surprising Gap Between What Operators And Customers Think About Coffee

This is a special message from Nescafé® Alegria

How good is your coffee program? If you're like most operators, you’re probably happy with it and see no reason for change.

However, new research from Datassential1 reveals that customers are not nearly as satisfied with your coffee as you might think. In a recent survey of more than 1,500 consumers, a whopping 89% said that at least occasionally they have been served coffee that is stale, bitter, cold, acidic, weak or with unwanted coffee grounds. Yet 96% of operators rate the quality of their coffee as good or excellent.

That disparity is explained by the fact that people usually don't complain to the operator about poor coffee. But 70% say that a poor cup would lower their satisfaction with the whole meal and 57% say that a poor cup makes them less likely to return to the restaurant.

“The first thing operators need to do with their coffee is make sure it doesn’t suffer from any of these potential issues,” notes Brian Darr, managing director at Datassential. “Rather than worrying about all the bells and whistles, the first priority is to minimize the risk of common problems. Consumers won’t care about fancy beans or roasts if you’re serving coffee that’s old and stale.”

Actually, customers care more about the freshness of a cup of coffee than the brand, origin, product format or any other factor. In fact, 84% said they would be more likely to order coffee if they knew it was fresh — a higher score than any of the other attributes listed. But what exactly qualifies as "fresh"?  According to the research, 40% of consumers say that coffee is no longer fresh 30 minutes after it is brewed.

After freshness, consumers say the next most important factor is consistency. In a restaurant, brewing temperature, brewing time, coffee-to-water ratio, holding time and human factors all can introduce variability into the coffee equation. Just as with your food, customers expect your coffee to taste the same every time. Otherwise, they’ll look elsewhere for their morning fix.

You could address the challenges of freshness and consistency by implementing a regimented coffee program with strict quality controls — throwing coffee out after 30 minutes, carefully measuring portions when brewing and appointing an in-house barista or coffee steward to manage the process. However, this can be quite expensive and operationally challenging.

A better alternative is to use Nescafé® Alegria coffee solutions to provide fresh, brewed-to-order quality coffee in a controlled and consistent manner. These systems use 100% real coffee in a liquid or soluble form rather than traditional grounds to dispense a fresh, consistent cup every time while increasing labor efficiency and reducing waste dramatically.

Nescafé® Alegria solutions provide a range of quality coffee beverages that are convenient, reliable and designed to be in tune with operators needs. Here are some of the solutions:

The Bowl Brewer brews coffee in amounts ranging from a cup to a pot at the touch of a button. It also eliminates messy grounds and the need for filters.

The Table Top Barista delivers eight different black and specialty coffee beverages (regular and decaf black coffee, latte, espresso, double espresso, cappuccino and mocha) plus hot cocoa, all at the touch of a button. In addition, its unique technology adjusts to different cup sizes.

The V-Café is a medium-to-high volume brewing solution. Its serving size flexibility works for both portion-control and free-flowing dispensing at the touch of a button. With a variety of robust coffee products to choose from, it is easy to capture roast and ground flavor every time.

The Java Giant II brews and holds 3,100 cups of coffee for a more practical alternative to 6- and 10-gallon urns. Capable of brewing up to 2 gallons per minute, it dispenses up to three types of coffee plus hot water and is programmable for cups or bulk coffee. The flavor profile can be adjusted according to customer preference.

The Java Giant III is for even higher-volume operations, brewing and holding 4,700 cups of coffee for dispensing on demand by the cup or in bulk.

If you’re concerned that your customers won’t like the taste of on demand coffee, fear not. In recent blind taste tests of more than 250 consumers, Nestcafé Alegria on-demand coffee scored higher than the top roast and ground brands.

Nescafé stands for Quality, Convenience and Customization principles that have been part of its success all over the world. These same principles remain at the core of Nescafé Alegria today, delivering an attractive coffee menu with a variety of coffee shop style beverages in a hassle free solution for operators.

For more information about boosting your Specialty Coffee program with Nestlé Professional Vitality, including products, dispensers and great recipe ideas, call 888-863-6726 or visit

1 Source: Datassential, December 2010. On-Demand Coffee: Insights & Strategies.

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