Thursday, 1 December 2016

New year, new resolution: start reducing food waste

New year, new resolution: start reducing food waste.

Getting ahead of trends can be tricky, especially considering the demands on you as a foodservice operator. 2017 is going to be a big year in the beverage industry. Customers are expecting more than ever from their favorite spots. To make it easy on you and your in-demand schedule, we’re breaking down one trend we’re sure we can help you with.

Waste not, want not.

Millennials, especially, want to know that their favorite beverage bars are concerned about the environment. They want food and drinks that aren’t contributing to the growing landfills around the country. The best part of this, though, is eliminating waste is also great for your bottom line. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Manage food rotation.

Make sure you or your manager understand how to preserve freshness and prevent waste.

Step 2: Review recipes.

Ensure your whole team knows how to make a recipe without overpouring.

Step 3: Create inventory consistency.

Have the same person manage inventory to keep from overordering.

Just these three steps we’ve outlined could help to increase your food cost savings by 2 to 3 percent and ensure customers know you’ve got the environment top of mind when you’re making their favorite mixes.

Success is in the mix.

What if you don’t have a lot of space, many items in your inventory, or a lot of wiggle room in your budget for extras that would add up to food being wasted? That’s where we come in. Big Train prides itself on having a small footprint in your pantry or on your shelves, a smaller footprint on your wallet and an even smaller footprint on the environment. Our mixes are fast, easy to use and offer all the instructions you need to make the perfect beverage every time.

Certainly, you can always add a garnish. We recommend a slice of fruit for something sweet, or a drizzle of sauce. But the best part of our mixes? Just a bit of water (hot or cold), a blender, or ice is all it takes to ensure you don’t have to have a huge operation to keep your customers coming back for more. Plus, we have all the flavors you and yours love now and will love in 2017.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Sip on this: Hot drinks make everything better. (Science says so!)


There’s a lot resting on the shoulders of a hot drink. We use them to feel better, to warm us, to cool us, to create intimacy between us and someone we care about. We use them to fill us up when we’re hungry and to slow us down when we need a break from life. So is there anything to it? The answer is yes—and there have been quite a few studies to prove it.

Let’s start with what hot drinks do for us, and then we’ll get into how hot drinks can even change the perception others have of you. (Seriously.) When’s the last time you had a cold? Did you put a kettle on to treat yourself to a hot cup of something? Or did you opt for the faster, decidedly less picturesque shove-it-in-the-microwave solution to heat up a beverage? Well according to a study in 2008 at Cardiff University, hot drinks absolutely do have a placebo effect. Participants in the study reported “immediate and sustained” relief from coughing, runny nose, sneezing and more—even though there was no scientific evidence any of those things had improved. Then, there are the physiological effects of a hot drink.

Science behind hot drinksSweet flavors stimulate receptors in our mouths. It’s a lot of nerves-to-brain stem science that amounts to the fact that sweet flavors release a morphine-like compound in the brain that makes us feel good. And these reactions are enhanced by heat. So what’s this mean for you? A sweet, hot drink could make you feel just a pinch better when it comes to your next cold.

Even if you’re not sick, though, a hot drink can make you feel better. It can warm you when you’ve been sitting at a desk for too long, or cool you off when you just can’t get cold. Yep, you read that right. It can cool you off. Here’s some more science for you, straight from the University of Ottawa’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory. When hot liquid hits the thermosensors in your throat and stomach, the body turns up your sweating. If you’re wearing clothes that allow your sweat to evaporate, you’ll end up cooler than when you started sipping.

So we know what to drink when we’re sick, cold or hot, but what about drinking something to make people like us? Hot drinks are your answer. They make us seem friendlier. It’s true. The University of Colorado-Boulder published a study in the journal Science that found when holding a hot drink (as opposed to iced), we are viewed as more welcoming by others. Planning to meet someone for a drink? Maybe a hot beverage is your answer.

We like to think of all of this as hot drink magic, but it certainly is interesting to see the science behind it—even if some of it is a placebo effect. If it works that’s all that matters, so head on over to our store and pick up your favorite mixes for the colder months of the year.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Wake up and smell the coffee. Because science says so.


Whether you’re crushing cups before a big college exam or just trying to get through the day at work, coffee has long been our best friend in its many forms. Specialty or hot and black, we reach for coffee more than any other drink out there. The smell alone can invigorate us before we have our first sip. So what’s that all about? Well, here’s some smell science for you.

Coffee is made up of many different molecules. Depending on what’s done to the bean during roasting, they can all add up to work magic on the olfactory bulb. That’s a fancy way of saying a part of your brain that recognizes odors as being good or bad. You see, all those molecules released into the air by coffee travel through your nose to register as floral or earthy, as bitter or smooth. Caffeine, for instance, smells bitter, and that scent can instantly trigger your brain to make you feel more awake and alert.


Here’s a few others:

Furfurylthiol: A fancy name for a molecule that is believed to be the source of that coffee smell we know and love.

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF): Offers a caramel-like sweet smell that makes people want to sip (us included).

Acetaldehyde: A flavoring additive that creates buttery notes.

Trigonelline: A cousin to caffeine, it breaks down during roasting to give coffee that roasted aroma.

Citric acid: It works with phenols to cause the bitterness of coffee as well as the dark coloration.


So what does it mean for us as coffee lovers? There’s an entire science wrapped up in that little bean. From the moment it’s harvested, it’s packed with the things it needs to smell (and taste!) amazing when it’s finished being roasted. Roasting coffee is an art form unto itself that enhances certain molecules and compounds to create the beloved undertones you love so much, not just in the aroma of your coffee but in the flavors, too.

Next time you brew your favorite cup, you’ll know why it smells so amazing.

Ready to really dive in and understand the chemistry of coffee? Head on over here, but be assured, coffee doesn’t have to be complicated. Just enjoy it.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Summer, fall, winter or spring: go cocoa!


Hot chocolate often evokes images of cold winter nights, snuggled up by the fire with a mug in hand. It’s the go-to beverage for kids fresh in from making snowmen and adults who want to add a little splash of brandy while baking holiday cookies. Well, we’ve got news. Cocoa is no longer a drink to be confined to the colder seasons. You can enjoy it any time of year, hot, cold, frozen, or over ice.

In fact, cafes and coffee houses are capitalizing on this decadent beverage–serving cocoa with swirls of whipped cream on it around the world. Where once they were seen as luxury beverages, they’re now seen as that quick, liquid fix for something sweet with just enough caffeine from the cocoa bean to keep you going.

Cocoa’s popularity has grown so large that across the Atlantic, it has surpassed both tea and coffee as the number one hot drink in England. Is it going that way in the U.S.? Trend reports are showing a slower increase here, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be on your menu. Customers look to cocoa the same way they do coffee and tea. That is, it’s a beverage meant to be indulged in daily, hot or cold. Plus with new flavors being offered every month, customers remain curious enough to keep exploring the trend.

In fact, varieties running from white chocolate to low carb cocoa are staples to have on any good cocoa menu. Plus, if you’re in a Millennial-saturated market, you might want to consider the Vivaz Mexican Spiced Cocoa, which gives every sip a lively kick that keeps a drink interesting. Committing to cocoa as a coffee house is more than just adding the traditional hot cup to your beverage selections, it’s making sure you can prepare a drink no matter what season we’re in.

We’re excited about this. Why? Because who doesn’t love chocolate? With a solid variety, customers can find new favorite flavors to order on the go. Plus, while it’s another item on the menu, gourmet cocoa doesn’t take up much space on the shelf. It’s easy to make, easy to indulge in, and even easier to bring in a profit with.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Customers are caramel crazy. (And why you should be too!)

In 2012, we had our eye on caramel. It trended high and grew right into the #2 selling flavor behind mocha. Fast forward to now? It hasn’t slowed. It’s still one of the top flavors to have on your menu—along with chocolate and vanilla—and the best part is that it can be served a variety of ways.
Because of its versatility and years-long chart-topping status, we’re upgrading caramel from trend to staple.  Demand for the gooey, warm sweetness of caramel makes it a flavor that’s going to stay. It’s something to always have on the shelf no matter what customer demographic you serve. So if you don’t have it on your menu, it’s certainly time to add it. And if you do? Consider this contender for your shelf space, too: our  Caramel Crème Blended Crème mix.

It combines the flavors customers love with the versatility of caramel—it can be served blended, iced, or hot. This makes it a perfect permanent menu item that pleases the taste buds from January to December. So where   do you start? Our caramel base can be used to create a latte or frappe, and if you want the kick of coffee, you can simply add espresso to it.

Here’s a couple recipes to get started. They’re easy to make with a base that doesn’t take up much space, and the best part? They’re even easier to drink.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A great recipe for a crowd: Java Chip

Easy to make, easy to sip.

Big Train® Cookies ‘N Cream

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Give the people what they want: Cookies ‘N Cream

It’s like heaven in a glass. Who says you can’t have dessert first?

Big Train Cookies ‘N Cream

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Where childhood and adulthood meet: Fruit Loops Frappé

This drink is made for the kid in all of us. Turn on the cartoons and travel back in time.

Big Train Fruit Loops Frappe

Friday, 9 September 2016

Beverage customers redefine “healthy.”

A healthy drink, to consumers, is more than just caloric intake. It’s better-for-you ingredients that are increasing sales.

The term “healthy” is everywhere. We see it on packages in the grocery aisles and bottles in the refrigerators. It’s decorating our Facebook newsfeeds along with the latest trends in diet and exercise. It’s become synonymous with low fat in some circles, low sugar in others. But when it comes to selling beverages, what does “healthy” really mean to the consumer?

Customers themselves are redefining the term. They’re focusing less on nutrition labels and more on ingredients. They want drinks that are fresher and less processed. They’re ordering beverages that take effort to make—ones they can’t simply pull off the local grocery store’s shelf, uncap and drink. We’re talking mixers that are homemade or fresh-picked. They want locally-sourced herbs and handpicked fruit garnishes.

In addition to muddling your customer’s next beverage, you can also take a look at your menu. Even the way you describe a drink can begin an experience for the consumer long before the first sip. For a healthy drink, consumers are looking for premium cues. A descriptive word or two can make all the difference between ‘a lemonade and vodka’ and ‘a freshly-squeezed lemonade and vodka’ to your customers. Are you creating this experience in your business?

The good news is, implementing this style of beverage into your menu isn’t difficult, even if you also have consumers who prefer the classic definition of healthy. You can easily keep a drink under 150 calories with juices, nectar and lower proof alcohol. It’s the best of both worlds when it comes to the healthier, better-for-you beverage trending in the market. Just remember, never call a drink ‘skinny’ when you want to market it as healthy. Customers tend to think it means poor flavor and crazy amounts of artificial sweetener. You definitely don’t want to give the wrong impression.

Besides with fresh ingredients and a low calorie count, you don’t need the word ‘skinny’. You can keep your customers satisfied, your margins profitable, and your drinks flowing without it.

Tell us, what trends have you heard about in the market and want more information on?


Friday, 20 May 2016

Big Train to Attend Coffee Fest 2016 in Dallas

Coffee Fest Dallas 2016: Where passionate coffee and tea professionals will learn skills, receive education and experience new products, plus great networking!

The Big Train team is excited to participate once again in this leading tea and coffee trade show.

Coffee Fest has been serving the specialty coffee and gourmet tea industries since 1992 and is viewed by most as the best trade show in America and around the world specifically for those involved with retailing coffee, tea and related products.

Everything under the sun that is found in an upscale coffee shop on either side of the counter, including the counter was on the exhibition floor.

The best coffee retail education, training, and workshops were present to network and learn from each other.

In 2013, we took home a best new product award, taking home third place in the New Product Showcase for our Fit Frappe Spiced Chai!

Coffee Fest chose to highlight our Fit Frappes, Blended Cremes, and Real Fruit Smoothies as “special [and] outstanding products” throughout the show.

In 2014, several members of the Big Train team were on-hand and also participated in the America’s Best Coffeehouse (ABC) Competition.

The ABC competition is basically what you’ve seen from town papers like “the best cafe in town.” But, Coffee Fest took this to a national stage and coast to coast.

If it looks like coffee, smells like coffee, goes well with coffee or is coffee you will find it at Coffee Fest!

One of their primary features is the Drink Innovations Lab allows brands to showcase innovative new drinks.

In partnership with our sister brands DaVinci Gourmet and Oregon Chai, Big Train will be represented at the show.

Throughout the event, we’ll be making custom beverages showcasing featured recipes and products.

This year, Big Train will be highlighting three flavors of our blended ice coffees: Mocha, Vanilla Latte, and Cookies n Crème

Featured recipes made at this year’s show include:

Wild Berry Oat Smoothie

  • 8 oz Davinci Gourmet Very Berry Smoothie Mix
  • 2 oz steel cut oats, blended
  • 14 oz ice
  • Add all ingredients to a pitcher and blend until smooth

Salted Caramel Banana Smoothie

  • 2 scoops Big Train Vanilla Smoothie
  • 1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Hawaiian Salted Caramel
  • 1 frozen browned banana
  • Dusting of cinnamon
  • 12 oz ice
  • Add all ingredients to a pitcher and blend until smooth

Green Smoothie

  • 8 oz DaVinci Gourmet Gratifying Greens Smoothie Mix
  • ¼ avocado
  • 0.25 oz lemon juice or slice of lemon (no seeds)
  • 16 oz ice
  • Add all ingredients to a pitcher and blend until smooth

Twice Spiced Cider

  • 1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Chinese Five Spice
  • 7 oz apple juice
  • Optional: 1.5 oz clear tequila
  • Add ingredients in order, garnish with spices like ginger slices and lime wedges

Strawberry Basil Lassi

  • 1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Fruit Innovations Strawberry (infused with basil)
  • 5 oz milk
  • 10 oz greek yogurt
  • Lightly stir, garnish with 1-3 fresh basil leaves

Raspberry Fields Lemonade

  • 1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Pacific Northwest Raspberry
  • 3 oz lemon juiced
  • 4 oz water (also works with soda)
  • Ice
  • Add ingredients in order, garnish with a lemon wheel

Coconut Cold Brew Frappe

  • 2 scoops Big Train Vanilla Smoothie
  • 5 oz cold brew
  • 0.75 oz DaVinci Gourmet Natural Coconut
  • 12 oz ice
  • Blend

Fruit Loops Frappe

  • 2 scoops Big Train Vanilla Bean Blended Crème
  • 5 oz water
  • 2 oz fruit cereal of choice
  • 12 oz ice
  • Blend garnish with whipped cream and cereal

Cookies ‘N Cream

  • 2 scoops Big Train Cookies ‘N Cream
  • 5 oz water
  • 12 oz ice
  • Blend

Arnold Palmer Bubbler

  • 1 oz Oregon Chai Extra Spicy Super Concentrate
  • 1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Fruit Innovations Lemonade
  • 10 oz soda water
  • 12 oz ice
  • Add ingredients in order listed and garnish with a lemon wedge

Salted Caramel Matcha Chai

  • 5 oz Oregon Chai Salted Caramel
  • 5 oz half and half
  • 1 tbsp matcha
  • Blend
  • Pour into ice filled glass

Blended Spicy Cucumber Lemonade

  • 4 oz Big Train Lemon Cooler
  • 0.25 oz DaVinci Gourmet Habanero
  • 4 oz water
  • 1 thin slice of fresh cucumber
  • 16 oz ice
  • Blend drink, pour into cup, garnish with lemon wheel on rim

If you’ll be joining us in Dallas June 10-12, stop by and visit us in booths #500 and #502!