Coffee Service Corner

For the nearly 5,000 attendees at the NAMA OneShow recently concluded in Las Vegas, there were ample Coffee Service booths to peruse and ample education sessions in which to learn and exchange ideas. Much of the sustainability interest that was prevalent at the Coffee, Tea, and Water show carried through to OneShow.

In a post-event meeting with Dean Gilland, NAMA’s VP of sales, said, “Once again the NAMA OneShow brought operators and suppliers together to showcase the latest products and equipment for the Coffee Channel. Technology is exploding….allowing the equipment manufacturers to provide more efficient brewers with features that allow consumers to customize their cup of coffee along with other beverages. Regional, national and local roasters also continue to meet evolving operator demands, allowing them to offer more unique roasts and packaging to the consumer including the group we recognize as ‘millennials.’ All of this adds up to continued excitement and opportunities for all of us involved in this unique beverage called coffee.”

As Dean commented, there were a multitude of new products and delivery systems that are meeting today’s evolving industry needs. From an operator perspective, two items stood out to me.

The first standout item was the LaVit point-of-use chilled water and product delivery system being showcased at the MTN/LaVit booth. The system had been in development for almost 5 years and the result was spectacular, with the unit providing filtered still and sparkling water that can be consumed straight or in combination with an interesting array of tasty rigid, cup style beverages.

During our Specialty Beverage session and in the research process leading up to it, I spoke with a number of operators who were already providing bottled sparkling water and expanding their menus with more water soluble flavor sticks, etc. Most operators experience the seasonal downturn of dollar volume with the onset of warmer months and are eager to find profit-builders during this time.

The LaVit unit is a handsome, intuitive system that fits comfortably on the counter-top beneath cabinetry. And the CO2 bottle change-out does not appear to be too onerous. Include the ability to add a wide array of healthy, flavorful drinks and that adds up to a winner.

Speaking of drinks, the LaVit folks already have more than a dozen drink varieties contained within 100% recyclable aluminum capsules. The ability to have these drinks still or carbonated expands the options.

With existing POU water systems already commanding a monthly rental, this combo unit should also demand a nice recurring revenue stream. With the rental potentially satisfying the full return on the asset investment, the product sales would all be accretive. I hear that the first container will hopefully be arriving sometime by July. For more information see

The next item of particular interest to me was a hopper-based presentation concept as presented by Karen Cebreros, a well-recognized “greenie” who was among the very first to bring sustainably grown coffee into the states.

While Karen was representing a nice hopper-based brewer company, the “hook” was a concept being presented as an “Organic Coffee House in a Box.” The concept begins with high-quality whole bean coffees, badged as Certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, and in Karen’s case, the products would all be sourced from farms owned and operated by women. The operator would then present to the prospective coffee service account a single-cup solution that centers on social responsibility coupled with delivering top-quality beverages.

Talk to your roaster about such a solution, or reach out to Karen for more information at

On the education front, I had the privilege of being a panelist in a Specialty Beverage session that included Steve Brehm of Berry Coffee and Tom Steuber of Associated Services, two top-quality veteran operators. Our moderator was Mike Tompkins, NAMA Quality Coffee Certification instructor and industry icon. Mike’s engaging personality and panel interview techniques made for an engaging, informative and entertaining session.

Not surprisingly, both from the dais and from audience questions, cold beverages and matters of sustainability were topics of interest. It’s exciting to see the continued evolution of our industry. And though e-commerce continues to be an effective supply solution for many offices, we operators must continue to focus on the operative word in Coffee Service…which is service. So many of the new products and delivery systems require more than an on-screen image to fully comprehend their value.

Our industry looks forward to the next NAMA trade show gathering which will take place November 2 – 4 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, DC.

See you there!

by Ken Shea

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