Should hotels offer their own signature coffee blends?
As specialty coffee sweeps into every corner of the hospitality industry, Cleia Junqueira of Coffee Planet explains the value of signature blends for hotels.
For many travellers, being served a decent cup of coffee at a hotel is no longer a luxury, but an essential requirement that may dictate where they choose to stay. As a result, many hotels and lodges are turning to signature coffee blends and their potential benefits.
In the United States, for example, PJ’s Coffee has created exclusive blends in partnership with several top hotels in New Orleans. The Australian roaster Di Stefano has also expanded its brand to service the unique dining experiences offered by the Langham Hotel in Sydney.
In 2018, Rove Hotels announced a new partnership with the specialty arabica coffee roaster, Coffee Planet, to bring a new signature coffee experience to guests staying at their hotels in Dubai.
It’s also become far easier for travelling coffee connoisseurs to see to their own coffee needs. There’s a vast array of travel brewing kits available these days, which is another indication that as specialty coffee’s popularity has increased, many guests are no longer satisfied with instant coffee provided in their hotel rooms.
That’s where signature blends come into play, helping the hospitality fight back against the growing scourge of bad coffee. For the companies that adopt blends, the distinctive and consistent flavours of their coffees are their greatest branding tools.
Why blend at all?
As opposed to single origin coffees, coffee blends typically consist of several types of beans originating from more than one place. This could refer to different countries, different regions of the same country, or even micro-divisions on the same farm.
“I love to create blends,” Cleia says. “One thing I really love is that you can play around with different roast times and split roasts [to create] a balanced coffee.”
Coffee is often blended to produce this balanced flavour and a flavour profile that cannot necessarily be met by a single origin. Often, this is dictated by the quality of the coffee. Apart, some coffees may lack certain attributes, but when blended, different coffees can complement one another.
When working with a hotel to produce a bespoke blend, this balance can be adjusted to suit the preferences and expectations of guests. As anyone interested in coffee knows, certain varieties and origins have their inherent flavours. By creating a signature blend, roasters like Coffee Planet work to develop a broader spectrum of flavours.
“Depending on what the client wants, you can lean more to one side or the other,” Cleia explains.
“If (the client) wants something with higher acidity, we can use more coffees from Central America, or some from African origins like Burundi or Tanzania. If they want something more intense, we can use coffees from India, Brazil, or Sumatra.”
She adds that the primary purpose of this process is to create a flavour which is an expression of the brand. However, it’s also easily repeatable, meaning that hotels can serve the same, consistent flavour year-round. Over time, guests may come to associate the flavour with the brand, and that’s great for marketing.
As Cleia says, “consistency is key”. In her experience, a good, consistent blend will help the hotel stand out and draw customers back.
Implementing a signature blend and other considerations
Coffee quality isn’t the only challenge that the hospitality industry needs to address. These days, many guests are aware of the impact of commodity coffee and single-use pods on the planet.
This is reflected in the results of a 2022 survey, which found that 82% of travellers plan to make more eco-friendly travel decisions, while 78% are even willing to pay more to lower their carbon footprint.
These findings illustrate that travellers will be looking for hotel choices that prioritise sustainability. Cleia says that when it comes to solutions, Coffee Planet looks at the bigger picture.
For a breakfast service, for example, Coffee Planet offers a signature blend for automatic espresso machines. When it comes to a hotel’s bars, restaurants, and lounges, however, the company encourages barista training to get the best out of the coffee.
Crucially, for hotel rooms, it may be wise to offer biodegradable pods sachets of the signature blend in instant form, capitalising on the increasing popularity of speciality instant coffee.
It’s clear that there is a huge amount to consider when thinking about offering a signature blend. It’s not just about what guests are looking for from hotel coffee – you need to know what solutions your roastery can offer, too.
“To please everyone can be challenging,” Cleia notes. “Palates and tastes change from region to region.”
That’s why she insists that hotels should put a lot of thought and market research into what they think their patrons look for in a coffee.
Where Cleia is based, in Dubai, 80% of coffee consumers drink milk-based coffees. As such, the preference is for darker roasts and lower acidity coffees. However, a younger or more metropolitan guest demographic could be open to brighter, more floral coffees.
Cleia adds that retail options are also a common request from hotels. When they have created brand-defining signature coffees, they want to make them available for guests to take home, as well.
Ultimately, the benefits of a signature blend all come down to customer preference. If you get it right, you’ll be ready to cater to the next generation of specialty coffee enthusiasts.
“There is a real profit to be made,” Cleia concludes.