McCafe Tassimo T-Discs and K-Cups Are Here!

Your favourite McDonald’s McCafe coffee has arrived in single-serve formats, available for both the Tassimo as McCafe T-Discs and Keurig as McCafe K-Cups. McCafe single serve cups are roasted slightly darker than a medium roast, bringing that bold and flavourful cup of coffee you’ve come to love. Just as convenient as a drive through with the push of a single button, it’s also less expensive and time consuming than sitting in the drive through in the morning.

McDonals McCafe T-Discs from Canada

The move to provide they McCafe experience from home in formats for both Tassimo and Keurig is a smart one, keeping the brand from isolating any customers who made the decision to buy their single serve coffee making before McDonalds announced their intention to offer a single-serve format. Feedback from customers have indicated that while they often appreciate the higher quality and flexibility of the Tassimo, there hasn’t been as much choice as far as varieties and brands. Boxes are priced around $11.00 for the Tassimo 14-ct.

McDonalds McCafe K-Cups from CanadaThe K-Cup format is compatible with original existing Keurig machines, and is priced at about $11.00 per 12-ct box.

Skinny Latte Recipes (Sugar Free) for Cafes

Customers are seeking more and more lower-calorie options, opting for healthier, sugar-free options to better serve customers. Making that delicious low-carb drink that keeps your customers happy without feeling guilty is a great way to increase repeat sales and keep customers coming back.

torani-logoWith Torani, you don’t need to worry about the “artificial after-taste” associated with other sugar-free sweeteners. Sweetened with Splenda, it’s stable at high temperatures (well above the brewing temperature of coffee and espresso) which keeps it from breaking down – and Torani is artfully crafted to provide flavour without being overly sweet. There are of course the ever-popular Italian Soda Syrup Flavours for summer, but it’s also great to have some warmer options for cold-weather as well as holiday-themed syrup flavours.

Here are a couple recipes that we’ve had great feedback with from some of our cafes, which yield drinks comparable to the major coffee chains.

Skinny Sticky Toffee Latte

torani-skinny-hazelnut-mochaSkinny Hazelnut Mocha

* for bonus appearance when presenting, top it off with a little sugar-free chocolate sauce zig-zag.

Skinny Caramel Brulee Latte

Skinny Salted Caramel Mocha

It’s also worth taking a look at some unique, new Monin Syrups for even more choices and variability.

Have your own favourite recipe? Feel free to share it in the comments!

Fontana Syrups Canada

Fontana SyrupFontana Syrups are essential Starbucks syrups with a different brand, keeping the Starbucks experience distinct from home. While available in the U.S., there aren’t many options for buying the syrups in Canada, and most people will tend to gravitate towards Torani or Monin, both of whom make a comparable product.

Fontana’s Flavouring Syrups are used to add flavours to coffees and lattes. With flavours ranging from Vanilla to Hazelnut and Cinnamon, there’s an option for just about everyone. In addition to the standard flavours, Fontana has a small line of sugar-free syrups that taste identical, without the calories. All the syrups come in 1-Liter (1000 mL) bottles, and there are pumps specifically designed for compatibility with the bottles of that size. Regular pumps used in other syrups won’t work either due to the neck size on the bottle, or the fact that they won’t reach the bottom and will leave syrup that can’t be used. Pour spouts are not recommended, as air will cause the flavour to degrade quicker.

Where syrups really shine over flavoured coffee is in their ability to flavour a single beverage, instead of forcing you to buy an entire pound of a single flavour. With syrups, you can buy a pound of premium roasted coffee and add Vanilla flavouring to only the drinks you want, without forcing everyone else in your household to drink Vanilla-flavoured coffee. Those who enjoy Vanilla can use that syrup, those who enjoy Cinnamon can use the other syrup, and everybody is happy.

Fontana Syrups

Fontana Syrup Ingredients

The ingredients in each of the Fontana syrups vary, based on which syrup you’re looking for. For example:

  • Toffee Nut Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE, CITRIC ACID.
  • Caramel Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, PRESERVATIVE: POTASSIUM SORBATE, CITRIC ACID, COLOR: CARAMEL.
  • Vanilla Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL FLAVORS, PRESERVATIVE: POTASSIM SORBATE, CITRIC ACID, COLOR: CARAMEL.
  • Raspberry Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, COLORS: CARAMELĀ  AND RED #40 , PRESERVATIVES: POTASSIUM SORBATEĀ  AND SODIUM BENZOATE , CITRIC ACID.
  • Hazelnut Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, PRESERVATIVE: POTASSIUM SORBATE .CITRIC ACID.
  • Peppermint Syrup: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL FLAVOURS, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE, CITRIC ACID.

Fontana Syrups generally contain anywhere from 18-22 grams of sugar per 1-fl-oz serving (30 mL). This is roughly the same as any other brand of syrup on the market. The exception to this is their line of sugar-free syrups, which include:

  • Sugar Free Vanilla: WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MALTODEXTRIN, CELLULOSE GUM, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE, COLOR: CARAMEL.
  • Sugar Free Caramel: WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CELLULOSE GUM, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE, COLOR: CARAMEL
  • Sugar Free Cinnamon Syrup: WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CELLULOSE GUM, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE, COLOR: CARAMEL
  • Sugar Free Hazelnut Syrup: WATER, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, MALTODEXTRIN, CELLULOSE GUM, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE, PRESERVATIVE: SODIUM BENZOATE.

Fontana Sauces

White Chocolate Sauce, Similar to Fontana

There are a couple of choices for thicker sauces, which can be used as toppings instead of blended into drinks and desserts. Toppings are typically added to mochas and cappuccinos where they flavour is complimentary to the drink, instead of blended into the drink. Drizzling a bit of sauce on top of whipped cream is a little bit of heaven that you can enjoy at home now as well as out at cafes.

All syrups and sauces come in plastic containers that are recyclable in Canada and the U.S.

Storage

The syrups don’t need to be stored in the fridge once opened, but it is recommended that a cap is left on the bottle if a pump isn’t being used to prevent air from freely entering the bottle. Both the regular syrups and the sugar-free syrups contain preservatives that keep the flavours spoiling.

Syrups typically come with “Best Before” dates as opposed to “Expiry” dates. For more information on the difference, see: http://buycoffeecanada.com/best-before-vs-expiry-dates

Sauces vary depending on whether they contain dairy or not, with some requiring refrigeration and others being OK left out for some time. Typically sauces should be consumed within 4-6 weeks of opening for optimal taste. Make sure to follow manufacturer recommendations on the bottle.

Future of Coffee Shops is Robotic Baristas

Straight out of the Jetsons… A startup called Briggo at the University of Texas has come up with a self-encompassed robotic barista that takes orders over the internet and makes them automatically. While there are existing machines that will make lattes and cappuccinos, this one is differentiated by the fact that it literally imitates the movements of a barista. Over 250 sensors are used to mirror the actions of Patrick Pierce, an award-winning barista.

With over $5 million in funding, the machine – a kiosk – is nearly ready to roll out. It is still entirely encompassed in a boxed case (likely for sanitary reasons), but the feedback so far has been positive. It actually does make good drinks.

Could this be the future of the coffee industry? No more baristas to customize your drink to your needs, or will machines adapt and grow to that point? Likely, it won’t go all that way, but it is an interesting concept nonetheless.

Guide to Promoting Your Cafe Online in Canada

Everyone hears about how important it is to be online these days – connecting with your customers running Groupons and specials via Twitter, it’s easy to get lost. You don’t have to be a social media expert to get feedback or run your own campaigns that encourage customers to come back. There will be a couple parts to this guide, and we’ll focus first on what’s probably the most useful for cafe owners: review sites.

Review sites will not only put you in front of people searching for cafes, they’ll put you in front of entire communities devoted to discovering neat, unknown businesses in your local city/community – just like your business. They also give you extremely honest feedback, people aren’t afraid of letting you know how they actually felt about your products and services because they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet. It is (in my opinion) the best way of connecting with your customers – finding out what they honestly liked, or what you need to improve on.

Don’t have time to constantly monitor all these sites? Don’t worry – after setting up your account, you’ll receive notifications when people interact with your listing or write a review, giving you the opportunity to respond whenever you can.

To get started, you’ll need a physical location (your cafe), an email address and preferably a website. Let’s create a hypothetical cafe named “The Blonde Bean”. I would take two dozen pictures that you can use in the profiles online, and watermark them with your cafe’s logo (or just the name)if you have the ability to so that others can’t steal them. Take pictures of anything and everything – the menu, the counter, the view from your cafe, your specialty drink or food – anything that might entice someone to come visit.

Google Local
Google Local (Google Maps) is the big daddy of review sites – getting listed here will give you the most bang-for-your-buck because of how well it’s integrated with searches. It will also aggregate reviews from the other top players and display them right on the page. They verify every listing with either a phone call or postcard, which can take a few weeks to arrive after you sign up.It’s not necessary to use your exact business name as shown on your Master Business License or papers of incorporation. I would recommend adding the word “Cafe” to the end to make it clear exactly what your shop is. In this case, we’ll register “The Blonde Bean Cafe” – people who know your business will identify it, and those who don’t will understand what it is you serve. It also helps when people search for the word “Cafe”. Fill out as much information as possible. Add store hours, a coupon and lots of pictures, filling out every field you can. The more complete your profile is, the more likely it is to be shown to a searcher.
Example: http://maps.google.ca/maps/place?hl=en&cid=5193387586656989408
Yelp
Yelp is another big player in the online reviews community, with lots of users and people who might be looking for a new cafe. Photos appear in the top-right of your cafe’s profile.
Example: http://www.yelp.ca/biz/art-square-cafe-toronto
UrbanSpoon
UrbanSpoon is a food-specific review site, making it perfect for Cafes. They have a very active user-base who love visiting a new restaurant or cafe and writing about their experience – some even write professionally. Find their “top reviewers” list for people who are well connected, and whose positive experience might draw dozens more customers. Photos also appear in the top-right of your Cafe’s profile.
Example: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/10/130309/restaurant/Downtown-University-of-Toronto/Avenue-Cafe-Bistro-Toronto
ourfaves
ourfaves is a little older, but still well respected by Google for reviews. It displays information about price, whether you have wifi access, whether there is parking, what kind of payment methods are accepted, etc. ourfaves is focused on what is the reviewers’ favourite parts of the business – summarized in a few words at the bottom of their review. The users’ “fave” things about your cafe is summarized on the right-hand side.
Example: http://ourfaves.com/place/404854/epicure-cafe-toronto
FourSquare
FourSquare has been around for years, allowing people to “Check In” at local places. They offer badges and rewards to the most frequent visitors (like the “Mayor of The Blonde Bean Cafe”). You can run promotions like offering people a free upgrade to a larger size coffee when they show you that they checked in at the counter. Photos of appetizing foods and decor appear prominently above reviews, which can urge viewers to come check you out.
Example: https://foursquare.com/v/hot-house-cafe/4ada5d5bf964a520e92121e3
blogTO
blogTO is a Greater Toronto Area site, and the reviews are frequently pulled into Google Local. Set up your page and write a quick article when you can, with lots of pictures (or have someone else do it). This is one of the best sites to showcase the interior design of your cafe and your main menu items.
Example: http://www.blogto.com/cafes/orangealert
dine.TO
Another one specific to Toronto, you’ll find people in search of businesses that are smaller, high quality and that others recommend – just like yours. dine.TO makes suggestions about other things you might like – which means that if your business is positively reviewed, you’ll show up on the profile of other businesses.
Example: http://dine.to/jetfuel

 

Don’t be afraid of bad reviews. People have bad experiences, it just happens. A company profile full of positive reviews just looks fake. Take the time to write the person back apologizing that it didn’t live up to their standards, then make the adjustments in your business and offer them a free trial to come back to evaluate it. It shows that you care about your customers and are always improving.

Those cover the big ones, you can also sign up to the sites below to make sure you’re found everywhere your customers might be looking for you. It’s a smart idea to to take a look at what the top 2-3 listings are doing as far as descriptions, images and reviews and make your listing identical.