Ask the right questions
There are some really important questions that you should ask any coffee supplier or coffee roaster before you do business with them. Just remember that a large part of your success will be dependent on the quality and reliability of their products.
Pollards are always asked a variety of questions when speaking with new customers, so to make sure that you don’t forget any of these. We’ve wrote them all down in this blog. We’ve also given our answers below, so it’s a bit like an interview!
How much do you know about coffee?
Simon, Pollards’ Managing Director, has been involved in the coffee business since he was a child and has built relationships with many coffee growers over the years. Mick, the Operations Manager, has worked in coffee for over 30 years and Andrew, the Roast Master, has been roasting coffee for 18 years.
Pollards has been roasting coffee since 1879, so we know what we’re doing and our customers regularly tell us that we do it well!
This question is important to ask any supplier, because you want to know that the information you are provided is not just off a script. You want to know that your wholesaler has plenty of first hand experience in the industry.
Do you roast all of your coffee?
Yes, as coffee roasters we roast all of our own coffee and we don’t sell anyone else’s. Pollards roast coffee every weekday at the roastery in Tinsley, Sheffield.
Again, an important question to ask because so many of our competitors simply buy and sell beans and don’t monitor the whole process themselves. Don’t just assume, ask!
How do I receive my coffee and how long does it take?
Pollards roast to order, so we aim to dispatch your coffee in two working days, which allows us time to roast. However, we do understand that sometimes the unexpected can happen, such as an extremely busy day of business leaving your supplies dangerously low – so Pollards will always do everything we can to get your order out as soon as possible. We send all of our parcels out with a trusted courier business. Currently DPD.
How often do you roast coffee and do you indicate when the coffee was roasted?
Pollards roast coffee every day, in fact freshness is one of our top priorities when it comes to producing coffee. We roast in small drum roasters and we don’t keep any stock on the shelf to go stale. Every bag that leaves the roastery will show the date it was roasted on the label.
This question is important to ask, and can easily be overlooked by the inexperienced. Most coffee that you purchase as a consumer direct from a supermarket for example, does not have a ‘roasted on date‘. Coffee beans are best fresh!
Where do roasters get coffee from and how frequently do you receive new coffees?
We source our green coffee beans from importers all over Europe. As well as directly purchasing coffee from growers and beneficios (coffee processors) around the world. Pollards makes sure to pay a fair price to all producers of green beans, which is usually higher than the market standard.
Our green coffee is delivered twice a month direct from docks in Liverpool and on the River Thames. If there is anything in particular you are looking for there is a good chance that we’ll be able to source the beans and roast them for you.
Can you provide my business with limited edition and guest coffees?
As mentioned above, we have access to most coffees from around the world. This means that Pollards can provide your business with special coffees throughout the year! These are useful for providing your customers with a limited edition coffee or expanding your menu with new and interesting flavours.
Can I have my own bespoke blend?
Yes, we love developing bespoke blends for our clients. The process can take a week or two, because we can only taste so many blends in a day and still sleep at night. Alternatively you might like to use one of our standard coffee blends. You can choose these and tweak it slightly, rename it and design your own label. We have a whole pile of them just waiting to be claimed! We can’t possibly use all the lovely blends we discover.
This question is key for a new coffee supplier. In most cases you don’t want to be selling the same coffee as the guy next door. And having an individual blend can make such a difference!
What else do coffee suppliers provide other than coffee?
Pollards have everything you need from syrups and sugar to crockery and barista supplies. If there is something we don’t stock then we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Coffee suppliers offer coffee, duh. But some might offer your company more, purchasing coffee alongside other consumables might result in a discount or simply make it easy for your coffee business.
Can I purchase a machine from you? What payment options do you have?
We have a selection of commercial espresso machines available to buy out right, or on a monthly finance deal. Pollards can provide you with grinders, tampers, knockout boxes and everything else that you need to start making the perfect coffee for your customers.
Can you repair my equipment?
Pollards work alongside a number of coffee machine engineers up and down the country. We are able to pick up the phone and speak directly to the engineers who will make their way to your business to repair your machine. A call out charge may be required, in addition to any further repair costs. However, this only applies if the problem is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. So make sure you check your warranty of a new coffee machine.
Can I tour your plant when you are roasting?
Yes, we are always happy to arrange tours with prior notice. We cannot accept visitors without a prior appointment. This is because as popular busy coffee suppliers we are usually very busy roasting and packing coffee for our customers.
This is an important question to ask any supplier. Its good for peace of mind, that you know where your coffee is and how it is being handled. Visits help build a rapport between supplier and buyer too so most roasters will be happy for you to stop by. I know we welcome it.
What type of technology is used on the roasting?
Pollards roast all their coffee using two coffee roasters, affectionately named ‘Red’ and ‘Brown’, because… yes you’ve guessed it, they are red and brown in colour.
The ‘Red’ roaster is controlled by a sophisticated digital system. This machine can produce large batches of consistent coffee time after time. Meanwhile the ‘Brown’ coffee roaster allows the Pollards team to have a bit of fun. Allowing them to be creative with their roast, used mainly to develop coffee profiles and produce special batches.
Andy, Pollards’ Roast Master, has picked up many traditional recipes and techniques over the years, which he jots down in his little black book to keep safe. In fact, very few people have had the honour of looking inside!
Can you personalise the labels on my coffee?
Yes, of course, our state of the art label printers can cope we most designs. Our marketing and sales team can also create simple designs to save you the effort of sourcing an external designer.
What packaging options do you offer?
Pollards are able to provide coffee in sachets from 12g to 60kg and everything in-between. We have pillow sachets, stand up pouches and block bottom bags in a variety of materials including foil laminate and paper.
Do you offer barista training?
Yes we do. We regularly hold barista training courses at our HQ in Sheffield. Alternatively, we can also provide training for your business onsite. Please visit our barista training page to find out more about our workshops.
Pollards think that asking these types of questions allow you a better insight. You will be able to understand the company a little better by testing their knowledge. Experienced coffee suppliers are always expecting questions and will be ready to answer. Simon believes in communicating with customers and clients. Pollards are always available to answer any questions to put you at ease.
I hope this helps you when it comes to your next meeting with your chosen coffee supplier or when approaching new coffee suppliers. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment below.
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