The dramatic rise in coffee prices is turning planners into bean counters. Cate Smith, executive director of Education Law Association
, says her eyes nearly bulged out in 2011 when a gallon of joe was $110 at a conference. Now that’s the norm Smith and other event professionals face as global supply drops and demand increases. Rather than wait for bad news when your final F&B bill arrives, percolate on these ways to keep the java flowing.
Start with the RFP.
Smith says she’s learned to ask venues for coffee prices in the initial bid process. “It puts them on notice,” says Smith, who has received offers with current prices for events as far as two years out. Philip Thompson, executive chef at Capital Hilton
in Washington, D.C., agrees planners are better off expressing needs up front.
To-go cups often end up with leftover coffee in them, observes Smith. An attendee might not think much of it, but that drink is liquid gold to planners and catering managers. “That’s money going down the drain,” says Smith. To limit waste, she directs venues to serve solely in china that stays on-site.
Find a sponsor.
Everything tastes better when you don’t have to pay for it. Not only would a sponsor offset the damage on the coffee bill, it would free up cash in your budget to pay for other growing expenses, like Wi-Fi.
If you have a small group and it’s within your budget, consider handing out $5 gift cards to Starbucks or another nearby coffee shop in lieu of coffee service. That way, attendees can choose what they want, and it might save you money in the long run.
An open bar is a pricey nicety. If you opt for a cash bar instead, you can pour more money into the morning pick-me-up. “It’s like putting money in a jar,” says Smith. “You do it little by little for long enough and you have a lot of money in your jar.”
Don’t be stingy.
Smith recalls attending a conference that delayed coffee service until the midmorning break to save a few beans. It didn’t sit well with the audience. “You don’t want people to feel like you are withholding from them,” she says.
Photo credit: marissa_collections