Insights from Account Management
We sat down with Anders Pierson, our Head of Account Management at Irving Farm, to discuss a range of questions pertaining to his experience working with wholesale customers. See his insights on upcoming challenges in 2022, the best way to improve your coffee programs, trends in the marketplace, and more.
What do you see as the single greatest challenge for wholesale customers in 2022?
I have been watching the list of challenges change since the beginning of the pandemic so I don't want to answer this and have the 'single greatest' challenge be totally different by the time this is published. If I had to guess, though, I would say that keeping new and existing staff well trained is high on the list. We've put a lot of care into being available to help with the coffee side of this challenge.
How can training help businesses improve their coffee programs?
I believe that even the casual or infrequent coffee drinker can recognize when a shop is invested in their espresso program. Great coffee served consistently is the most obvious result, but there are other things that can provide clues as to whether or not a shop is invested, such as cleanliness of the barista area and whether or not the staff seems to know what they're doing. There's also the loud, squealing milk sounds of improperly steamed milk... Customers pick up on these details, whether they know it or not.
What are some tips for maintaining equipment?
The biggest tip for keeping your equipment good-as-new is to clean, clean, clean! A huge focus of our barista training is on the proper way to keep the machines cleaned - think: purge and wipe steam wands after use so the milk doesn't crust on them or get sucked back up, empty the grinder hoppers at night so coffee oils don't cause problems or introduce bad tastes the next day.
Have you noticed any recent trends in coffee, or the food and beverage industry at large?
I've been keeping my eye on the ways companies are improving the energy efficiency of their products. Espresso machines have come a long way in terms of temperature stability, using digital controllers to turn on and off the heating elements. There are brewers that heat to order (called "flash heating") so there isn't wasted energy keeping water hot 24/7. It makes me really happy that nerding out on coffee technology is a part of my job. If you see something new and interesting and want to pick my brain, feel free to reach out!
If you had one piece of advice for people building a coffee program, what would it be?
Talk to your roaster! Everyone I've met in specialty coffee has worked as a barista and can hop behind the bar and start making drinks. This kind of passion for what we do means that we've all thought a lot about what the barista experience is like, or seen things from the perspective of a store manager. When there are questions I don't know the answer to I immediately know who to turn to who has a related background and is willing to help.