Spirit Tea

Earth Humanity Heaven

An uncommon selection of handmade teas, each reflecting a unique moment in space and time.

Wholesale Tea for Coffee Shops Part 2

In my first installment we talked a bit about the economics of switching to a higher end specialty tea vs. a commodity grade basic option.  If true tea is to take hold in the United States it must happen in a venue that already features higher end options.   

Now in this article we are going to talk about the operations in logistics to making a tea program successful in your coffee shop.  

Let's start with a few questions: 

  1. Is your cafe higher traffic with many rush periods or is it slow and steady with an occasional rush? 
  2. Do you have multiple hot water options? 
  3. Do you plan on steeping the tea behind the bar, or putting it in the sachet and offering it to the customers? 

The first question deals primarily with the question of operations - can your customers afford to wait for their tea?  How do we ensure a fast and readily available speed of service? 

We often draw a parallel here to coffee.  If your cafe currently offers pour overs that process typically takes about 5-6 minutes if you include the time to grind the coffee, pre warm the chemex, and then pour the hot water on top of it.   The idea here would be to steep the tea behind the bar - with proper specifications to ensure that the tea is not overextracted - it is this sort of attention to detail that will keep your customers coming back again and again.  

Here are some examples of how to brew the tea behind the bar: 

This cafe does brew to order and the tea is made behind the counter and served to go

This cafe does brew to order and the tea is made behind the counter and served to go

Now that we have covered the service piece lets dive a little deeper into the equipment you might need to make all of this magic happen.  

Truly elite cafes will have multiple hot water towers available -  here is an example of this - in this way you can do on demand - white teas, green teas, oolong teas, and black teas without skipping a beat or waiting for your water to cool. 

Of course this type of equipment is not cheap - so one way to cool the water faster is to decant it into cooler vessles to bring the temperature down.  

The most important element for all this is making sure you have the right partner that will work with you on how to make the tea behind the bar - training, education, and dial in are critical to making the tea program at your coffee shop a success.