As the son of a Cuban baker and the owner of a Cuban bakery, Raul Porto knows a thing or two about espresso. “It's very popular in the Cuban community, so we've had it as a part of our business since early on,” Porto says. “But for a long time, we only served regular coffee and espresso.”
The advent of Starbucks and other coffee houses, though, created new public awareness of quality coffee and coffee drinks. When the Los Angeles area bakery expanded its existing facility to include the building next door in 2003, Porto knew he could capitalize on the coffee house trend by expanding the bakery's coffee program.
He turned to his local espresso supplier, F. Gaviña & Sons, to help get the program up and running.
“We wanted to make sure that we served products that people were accustomed to seeing in other traditional coffee houses,” Porto says. “We had a good relationship with Gaviña already, and we knew that we could do a lot more with our coffee program with some direction.”
With the glut of businesses selling or featuring coffee, Porto says that customers, perhaps more than ever, can detect differences in quality. He trusts Gaviña because of its hundred-year history of making quality espresso.
“We had a lot of compliments on Gaviña. There are a lot of coffee houses out there, so it's good to hear,” Porto says. “The product was very good, the service was very good; plus, the program is full service.”
Gaviña provides everything from cleaning supplies to the coffee itself, and performs everything from training to maintenance.
Porto says it's very helpful to have all elements of the coffee program under one roof. “As you grow and open more stores, these customer service things that may have seemed minor become more important,” Porto says. “The easier you make the job for your employees, the better off you are. Any questions or problems having anything to do with coffee, they have just one phone number to call.”
Porto says a common problem with bakeries is low profit margins. “Unless you sell thousands of donuts, you can't pay rent; the margins are so small that it's difficult to turn a profit,” Porto says. “Coffee helps with margins, and brings in people who otherwise might not come in.”
Porto also uses coffee to stabilize his sales over the course of the day. A bakery might have a morning and weekend busy period only to be relatively slow the rest of the day. The overhead costs of keeping the building, though, are non-stop. The coffee program helps maintain a steady flow of customers throughout the day.
Porto says the addition of coffee increased business by nearly 100 percent overnight.
“Currently, the coffee program accounts for between 10 and 12 percent of my business,” Porto says. “But a lot more of it is probably bakery business that the coffee has driven; baked products that are sold after coffee brought people into the building in the first place.”
For more information about F. Gaviña & Sons Gourmet Coffee, call 800/GAVINAS or visit www.gavina.com