Caffe Culture to hold three themed days of conferences

08 January 2010 by
Caffe Culture to hold three themed days of conferences

The conference programme at this year's Caffe Culture exhibition offers valuable insights for those in the wider catering and hospitality trades who want to maximize their returns from hot beverages.

The conference programme at the Caffe Culture show will be divided into three theme days, covering different aspects of the modern coffee bar trade. The second day in particular may be valuable for the wider hospitality trade.

The first day is based on ‘managing change', which can refer to such hazards as fluctuating markets and changes in consumer spending habits. The speakers will be Buck Hendrix, regional president for Starbucks; Doug Zell of Intelligencia (a noted coffee roasting company from America); and Paul Ettinger of Caffè Nero.

Programme organiser Gary McGann (of the café-trade wholesaler Beyond the Bean) has reacted with good humour to the suggestion that the Starbucks speaker had been chosen because the chain has become notable for changing its own mind.

"Starbucks were largely responsible for shaping the modern day coffee bar, and are now going through more changes than before," he agreed. "They are openly questioning their methods of interacting with customers and the way they do business. I would hope that attendees will learn from their vision of future changes.

"Doug Zell has built a business that operates on two American coasts, which is a feat for a relatively small company. He is one of the few roasters who have successfully managed to use their support of barista championships for commercial gain by improving their coffee… and has appeared in an American Express TV ad, which can't be said for anyone else in the coffee business!"

The second day's theme is ‘a whole new world', which refers to an understanding of different markets.

Speakers include Marco Schalf, whose Austrian business has over 200 sites in Europe and is looking to expand into origin countries, and Mike Absolum of BP (its convenience retail operation is a giant seller of takeaway coffee) who will offer an insight into different consumer behaviours across Europe. Kenneth Luciani of Baresso Coffee in Denmark will speak about creating a modern café chain within one of the most discerning markets in the world.

Why does the British hospitality trade need to know about this?

"We are increasingly influenced by overseas trends as the ‘Ryanair generation' travels more frequently," says McGann. "Each country has its own version of modern caffe culture - so, with a high percentage of overseas visitors and immigrants in the UK, what is there from their home markets that our operators should embrace?"

The third day is hoped to provide an insight into and understanding of the evolution of coffee bars, and how this fits with consumer trends. The main speaker is a David Schomer of Espresso Vivace in Seattle, a roaster and noted writer on coffee matters.

"We are tackling this subject from the consumer perspective that a coffee bar is a combination of three elements, work, retail and leisure - we are recruiting three leading design experts to tell us of emerging trends and where they see these translating to café bars of the future. It should be an insight into leading design without having to fork out huge fees for it.

"David Schomer will share plans and layout of his successful cafes to ensure that the ‘design' focus does not stray too far from the practical operation."

Caffe Culture runs from 23-25 June, at Olympia London. The conference sessions are £195 per day (or £175 for early bookings) and is run by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, tel 01245 426060

By Ian Boughton

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