Both Mike and I have backgrounds in the coffee industry. I worked in restaurants for 10 years, and Mike worked in them for 15. It is very much a part of who we are and how we got to where we are today, owning our own coffee business. Working in restaurants gave me the tools I needed to open Coffee Labs. We owe a lot to the restaurant industry, but there is one thing that is almost consistently wrong in most restaurants. The coffee!
We are often asked why coffee is so bad in restaurants, even some of the finest ones. It is a common topic of conversation in the coffee industry. How can we get restaurants to make better coffee? It actually has gotten a lot better over the past 12 years, but there are still very few restaurants where I will order coffee after a meal. I really don't have a great answer for why the food can be so delicious and the coffee remains so awful. Many chefs I know tell me the cost of quality coffee is simply too high. Years of buying low quality, low cost beans often leads to sticker shock when looking into high end coffee.
Restaurant people tend not to know much about the significance of quality coffee. In fact, most chefs were never even trained in how to make good coffee until recently. I have had ome of the best meals of my life in Paris, but the coffee was awful. that is beginning to change in paris, where we recently has the pleasure of meeting some of the pioneers of coffee in France. It is an exciting culinary change in a country already renowned for its cuisine.
When I try to sell our coffee to restaurants I will often hear people say that they have been with their coffee provider for so long they would not want to ruin their supplier relationship. While I strongly believe in relationships with my own suppliers, the qulity of the coffee is of more importance. I know that if any of these chefs received mediocre meat or fish, they would immediately disassociate themselves from their unreliable suppliers. Why should it be any different for coffee?
What it comes down to is just a lack of knowledge about coffee. It's not that restaurants don't want the coffee to be the best, it's that they don't realize there is such a big difference between high and low quality coffee.
I remember thinking I knew about coffee before I studied it. I thought "It's just coffee, what else is there to know. A lot, that's what! Coffee knowledge is endless and the science is young. There is still so much to learn.
Newer chefs are now taught about coffee at the Culinary Institute of America, and because of the, we are about to witness a new generation of restaurants who will care just as much about the quality of their coffee as they do about the quality of their food!