Britain’s artisan coffee aficionados can be found crowded into one place this weekend – the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London, for the London Coffee Festival. The festival is packed with talks, tastings and workshops to hone those barista skills. The last day is Sunday 31st March, with tickets still available starting from £18.50 (or £4.50 if you have a 16 or 17-year-old teenager you want bringing the best out of the beans you feed your espresso machine). This is one of the UK’s biggest coffee events, so if you can afford to go yourself, or spare a member of staff to attend, you could bring back a stack of tastes, techniques and ideas to put into action in your coffee shop.
Of course, sparing a member of staff isn’t always easy, especially at the weekend. Research from Allegra and the London Coffee Festival suggests that as many as 6,500 new coffee outlets could open between now and 2023, which would require an extra 40,000 coffee shop staff. The problem is that there seems to be a shortage, and with Brexit already affecting the number of EU nationals making Britain their short- or long-term home, recruitment is proving tricky for lots of coffee companies and eateries. Do you find it difficult to attract and retain loyal, hard-working committed staff members and skilful baristas? A lot of coffee shops give new recruits their initial barista training and then leave them to it. We think that’s a mistake. Regular refreshers prevent your staff from falling into bad habits, rejuvenate their interest in the more technical aspects of fine coffee pouring, and are an excellent differentiator for you as an employer. Covering the cost of travel and attendance at an event like the London Coffee Festival is an investment in the people you train up, demonstrates your passion for coffee, your business and your people, and shows staff that their job is more than, well, just a job.
All that said, this is a big weekend for coffee shops. Spring has sprung and much of the country will enjoy relatively warm weather over the weekend. As dutiful daughters and sons will know, this Sunday is Mother’s Day, which means more mums being taken out for treats. Finer weather and a national tradition are a good combination for busier high streets and a coffee shop marketing opportunity not to be missed.
Throw in the arrival of British Summer Time, and those clocks going forward are going to see extensive yawning and a clamouring for caffeine to make up for that lost hour of sleep. Better pour yourself and your team a double espresso.