Within the coffee world all the talk is of the third wave, referencing the highest quality coffee beans sourced from distinct farms and roasted lightly to enhance their flavor profiles. Coffee from these beans is also prepared in a variety of devices, including sophisticated espresso machines, pour-overs, Chemex, and Aeropress. But there is another method of making these high-quality coffee drinks that is becoming increasingly popular with the touch of a button. Single serve capsules have entered a new generation of taste and flavor.
Roasters are embracing the challenge of working with these prized beans and are preparing them specifically for single serve systems. Technical challenges are daunting, as coffee must be roasted differently for single serve, using different grinders, measured precisely, filled in a capsule which is nitrogen flushed for freshness and then hermetically sealed. When done properly, capsules always deliver a consistent freshly brewed cup in less than a minute.
Capsules filled with exotic single origins like the prized Gesha beans from Colombia or limited edition and rare releases from coffee farms in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Guatemala, among other locales, are now available. Unique blends and decafs enhance the varieties available in capsules. Capsules can deliver both espresso and filter coffee options, and the latest generation of single serve machines make it simpler to use capsules and serve drinks in higher volume situations.
For specialty food service operators, the goal of delivering a delicious, consistently made cup of coffee to every customer every time appears simple. But simplicity can be complicated. Diverse factors affect the customer experience. Having enough freshly brewed coffee on hand available at all times can be difficult as customer traffic ebbs and flows during the day. Coffee must be brewed correctly with equipment that is adjusted properly. Espresso machines must be maintained and recalibrated daily to ensure optimum extraction. Brewed coffee that is not sold is discarded. Batch brewed coffee systems help deliver hot coffee but limit the choices. Offering broader ranges of hot drink options requires multiple different containers and needs to be consistently refreshed. Staff and labor needs fluctuate. The goal of selling fresh, delicious beverages is more difficult than it appears.
Consumers are attuned to the quality offerings of different brands and seek out their favorite drinks in different locations and venues. What was once primarily a means for people to enjoy their coffee at home now includes the ability for food service operators to offer those same drinks easily and efficiently.
Single-serve systems deliver beverages on demand, with capsules augmenting or replacing existing drink options. Numerous restaurants already offer espresso from a single serve capsule or soft pod, including highly rated, Michelin starred restaurants. Capsules for making larger cups of filter coffee deliver bigger drinks for take-away. Balancing quality with speed of service and limiting waste is a perfect combination for a food service operation. But single serve does not need to be limited to fine dining. Single serve capsules also deserve a place in cafes and quick serve restaurants. On-demand brewing provides the operator with freshness, beverage choices, and consistency with no waste. And since every capsule makes only one drink, it is possible to greatly expand one’s coffee beverage menu in a very small space by offering customers greater choice without having more coffee already made and waiting for sale.
Running a successful café or business offering specialty coffee has become more challenging. With a new generation of roasters embracing the challenge of offering their best possible coffees in a single serve format, utilizing single serve capsules to enhance coffee menus is a way to offer great-tasting, consistent cups of coffee on demand. Smart operators are adopting capsule systems to augment their offerings and increase their profitability and efficiency. As coffee roasters have embraced the change and adapted their offerings for customers, food service operators should be doing the same. It is as easy as pushing a button.