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.

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?

 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Pre-Batching Drinks – Thirst Trends

Speeding up service times & Elevating drink consistency

Pre-batching coffee beverages

What stands out on the menu to you?

Let’s talk about dining out the offerings that grab your eye from a menu. Besides the specific dishes, personally, I’m attracted to words and phrases like: local, “house made,” and “house batched.” It just catches my eye, am I alone?
Obviously not everything can be made in house or local, because of sourcing, resources and costs. But I’ve noticed more businesses are batching ingredients on site. Of course places like bakeries already do this with their pastries, and the realization of the benefits are catching on within the beverage world as well.
When a business has a seasonal special promotion or LTO beverage it will hopefully sell a lot per day. Pre-batching this drink may have a lot of benefits, I’m not suggesting that all offerings should be pre-batched, but some of the big sellers can be, let’s look at why and how.

Benefits of batching drinks

Consistent flavor delivery, a huge benefit, in my opinion more important than service times. A big urn of the daily special can be pre-batched, taste-tested, then everyone knows for sure that it will delight customers.

Faster service times, when everything is prepared you can pull or pour the item quickly.

Less dishes to wash, may seem like a small benefit, but think how many times items like spoons or measuring pitchers need to get washed between drinks.

Batch during slower times, such as being part of the nightly closing routine, or slower afternoon.

Considerations of batching drinks

Need a big urn or pitcher, which could mean increased storage needs. Also its another item to buy, and if its not pretty to look at then where should it be stored?

Keeping it cool can be of concern, there are great machines that are designed to circulate and keep cool, or storing in a refrigerator works.

Guests may not feel its made special for them, its possible to lose that theatre of preparation in front of a guest.

Ingredients that don’t batch or hold wellBatching ingredients for beverage mixes

Carbonation doesn’t last forever. When I batch drinks, like mojitos, I will measure all ingredients besides the ice, soda water, and garnishes. There is still a huge time saving factor by having 4 of the 6 ingredients prepared for me, I just add the last details and pieces.

Pay attention to expiration dates. Remember that the beverage you scale up will expire when the first ingredient goes bad. Batching is great for daily operations, the idea is to batch enough for one day only.
Garnishes always enhance a beverage, but you can’t batch orange slices and expect them to come out when needed. Batch all your liquids and place the finishing touches as you normally would.

Ice

Ice presents some interesting factors. If making a cocktail ice serves as a chiller and as a diluting agent. Ask yourself if the drink needs a little water in the recipe to replicate ice melt.

Other things to think about

I made a punch that needed a little water in it to replicate ice melt. I batched it up perfectly, then to keep it cold I had put the empty urn into a freezer the night before, and separately froze five pint glasses with the punch in it. Day of the event I filled the ice cold urn with punch, then added the pint-cubes, which kept it chilled and also melted without diluting further.

What about hot beverages you ask? If the hot drink has texture, like a latte, it will not work the same in a vacuum system like an airpot or pump pot. Heated spinners are an option. Sometimes just preparing a batch, having it chilled, then heating on demand is still a big time saver. The longest I’ve let a hot pre-batched drink with dairy sit out for sampling was four hours, I don’t know at what point the milk spoils, so I was tasting hourly, then decided to dump it all and start a fresh batch.

Using a granita machine or bubbler is really like making a big batch of beverages. But I wanted to warn you about too much agitation in a machine. I have heard of someone batching a high fat drink into a machine that turned the whole drink into butter. Wouldn’t that be a surprise?

Closing

Pre-batching drinks has saved me lots of time, it is very efficient to use when setting up and preparing for a party, event, or just a popular drink that is made frequently. I wish you the best, and as always if you have questions, please email me directly, Levi.Andersen@Kerry.com.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Coffee Podcast for Baristas: Audio Cafe

Looking for a Coffee Podcast for baristas or coffeehouse operators? If you love coffee and enjoy listening to podcasts, you definitely want to check out the Audio Cafe podcast!

Hosted by Levi Andersen, aka @boyrista on twitter, this weekly coffee podcast is crafted for people working or in love with specialty coffee. Levi is the Beverage Product Specialist for Kerry (DaVinci Gourmet, Big Train, Oregon Chai, Jet & Caffe D’Amore brands). He is basically our lead barista – he takes all of the existing products and flavorings and creates on-trend recipes for Big Train products and other Kerry foodservice brands on My Drink Works.

He gets to fly to events to speak in addition to hosting customers (like chief executive of some of the largest coffeehouses in the world) who visit our corporate office. Levi also trains sales teams on how to use the products and often joins meetings they have with visitors from large coffee/fast-food/chain/restaurant chains. and make them amazing drinks. He also gets to help develop new products.

Its fun, fast, and challenging, and I love it,  says Levi. Working in the Specialty Coffee industry in general is awesome. There are so many great people who share their knowledge openly because they genuinely love what they do and want to make a lasting difference. Speaking at Coffee Fest trade shows has been a personal highlight.

Levi’s podcast features interviews about brew methods, customer service, staffing, tips and tricks like opening a coffee shop, tea 101, and discovering the best cafes around.

It’s designed to pair with your americano or cappuccino as you learn from the top leaders in the coffee industry. The voices of those who participate include cafe owners, coffee growers, roasters, baristas, managers and chefs sharing real stories and advice.

Levi details what the coffee house podcast is about and why he started it

While working in many different aspects of coffee I kept seeing that people want to connect. There are many great resources our there like magazines (Barista, Roast, Fresh Cup, etc.) websites (Barista, Roast, Sprudge, Barista Exchange, etc) and even now a TV show, Dangerous Grounds. But at the time, there were no active podcasts about coffee. Personally I’ve listened to 1056 hours of podcasts just on my iPhone in 2 years. That’s 44 days of podcasts. And I’m not alone, a lot of people are doing this.

So, I knew there was a need for a coffee podcast, the only question was how should it relate to coffee exactly? Looking at what was out there already was helpful because I didn’t want to do what they were already doing. And I wanted to do something that was an extension of myself and my experiences.

A part of me wanted to talk about what they were covering like café styles, the history of espresso, and black coffee vs having cream, but I needed to make it my own and unique. So I decided to target the people who really need the most help: baristas, coffeehouse owners and managers. And I will speak to them from my own experiences of owning my coffee stand.

If your hands touch coffee, then your ears deserve to listen to this podcast. Many big issues are covered, like water quality’s effect espresso and what that means for the ‘average joe’ and the Single Origin connoisseur. These lessons are worth their own weight in Organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Panama Esmerelda Especial Mario Carnaval green beans.

The podcast has also been transitioning to Google Hangouts as well. These Hangouts are recorded and streamed live. There is also a chat room for attendees to ask questions. After the events, the recorded videos are searchable on YouTube.

Levi plans to host two hangouts per month, with the next one scheduled for April 21st. The last hangout had 8 people, which adds a layer of exclusivity and intimacy. During the last Hangout, the group talked about latte art in cafes along with dos and don’t, why at all, what it means to be a customer, etc.

Some hangouts are geared to consumers while others are geared toward baristas. The last barista podcast was aimed at people who make coffee for customers. The groups shared tips, tricks, and concerns. In the future, Levi plans to type an outline and vision in advance to display the reasons an average coffee drinker may want to attend and watch.

For more information about Levi’s coffee podcast go here: Audio Cafe . For more information about Kerry’s foodservice beverage brands go MyDrinkWorks.com.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Decaf vs Caffeine Free – What is the difference?

Caffeine is a favorite ingredient in many different beverages from around the world. It gives people a mental boost. This has been true for literally thousands of years. The first note of a caffeinated beverage is Chinese brewing tea. Legend holds that a particular Chinese emperor began the practice around 3000 BCE. Coffee was already established when the first mention of it was made in a Persian medical text in the 9th century. The kola nut, another source of caffeine, was in common use in Africa hundreds of years ago. Cocoa beans, the source of chocolate, is found as early as the 6th century BC in Middle America.

Caffeine Free Vanilla Fit FrappeUnfortunately, caffeine is not something that everyone can take all the time or even ever. Caffeine has a stimulant effect on many people. That means it revs up the metabolism and creates an alertness not there before. That has an upside. However, it can also have a downside. It can keep people awake. For those trying to get around the caffeine, there are a couple of options: decaffeinated or caffeine free.

What is the difference between decaffeinated or caffeine free? Decaffeinated items are those from which the natural caffeine has been removed. Caffeine free items are those that have no caffeine to begin with. For example, decaffeinated black tea has a regular caffeinated tea base that goes through a process to remove the caffeine. On the other hand, herbal teas are naturally caffeine free. Many like the taste of the original caffeinated item but want the decaf version to avoid the caffeine. However, decaffeinated items still usually retain one to two percent of the original caffeine content. That can easily add up over the course of a typical day.

How do you regulate your caffeine intake? Pay attention to the caffeine content of any decaf or regular beverage you drink. For example, brewed decaf coffee can contain 0.7 mgs of caffeine for every ounce, or 5.6 mgs in an 8 ounce serving. A major coffee company’s decaf product we found has 13 mgs in a 16 ounce serving. A Big Train Decaf Mocha contains considerably less. So decaf products may are not necessarily caffeine free and may vary significantly.

If you are looking for decaf and/or caffeine free gourmet beverage products check out Big Train. You can also find plenty of items in our selection without any caffeine at all. Our Lemonade gives you a refreshing boost. Our Big Train Naturals offer real fruit smoothies without any caffeine. Fit Frappe Vanilla protein drink mix has all the energy and vitamins with no caffeine, for example. Of course many of our most popular products do have caffeine. For greater service to our foodservice professionals and home baristas everywhere, we aim to provide a great selection to meet varied nutritional requirements.

For more information regarding Big Train gourmet beverage mix products, call 800 BIG TRAIN (244-8724) or go to BigTrain.com or follow Big Train on Facebook or twitter. Look for our Big Train videos on YouTube. Cheers!

Friday, 9 December 2011

What is a Chai Tea Latte?

What is a Chai Tea Latte?

A chai tea latte starts with the chai. Chai is a term that means something a bit different when you look from its place of origin versus the Western world. Chai is a term used to refer to black tea throughout South Asia. In India, the word chai tends to mean a black tea blended with a mixture of warm spices like cardamom and cinnamon. In the Western world, chai has come to mean a beverage spiced with the warm spices found in the Indian version of the tea. Chai spice blends go well with many flavors. Lattes are a great way to serve these flavors. Latte traditionally blends hot milk and coffee. Tea lattes substitute tea for the coffee.

Chai Tea Latte

Big Train Sereno Organic Chai Tea Latte

Chai tea lattes offer you the taste of chai and the benefits of tea drinking. Many people prefer the taste of tea to coffee. Moreover, adding chai spices makes the tea even tastier. The chai blend usually has a milk base that helps make the blend smooth and a bit creamy. You can find chai added to other flavors that the Western palate flavors like chocolate, raspberry, and vanilla. The combinations are very flavorful and growing in popularity with people of all ages. If you want to make chai tea the old fashioned way, it will take experience and knowledge of how to blend the spices and tea properly to get the bright blend of flavors. Or add water to Big Train’s acclaimed chai mixes. For instructions on making homemade chai from scratch ask our twitter friend, aspiring chef, foodtrucker, & elite Yelper Sukhraj (aka “Suki”, @eatsukieat on twitter). She can give you some great tips or check out her awesome video The Best Masala Chai Tea.

If you run a café, coffee house, food truck, restaurant, or other foodservice operation, you might be wondering how you can bring chai latte beverages to your establishment. Big Train offers 15 varieties of gourmet chai blends that make delicious chai lattes, including a dairy free option so that you can use your own alternative milk or dairy product in your Chai Tea Latte recipe. And because Big Train chai mixes are powder based, they have excellent shelf life and are very versatile. Just add water for an instant amazing chai latte. In addition, Big Train carries liquid chai concentrates you can use as a base for your lattes. Big Train chais can be served hot, over ice or blended as a frappe. Big Train’s twitter page is loaded with comments with customers from around the world that love Big Train products. Like this one from @missmarisol:

“I love, love, love, love @BigTrain spiced chai. Love!”

We love what we do and we love our customers too.

Big Train’s unique blend of spices has earned recognition by taste professionals the world over. Its blend of honey, vanilla, black tea and other great flavors make a great addition to any coffee house menu. You can come up with your own combination using Big Train chai mix as a base. It is a great way to make a spectacular change to your menu.

Chai tea lattes are simple to make, but offer spectacular flavor. Big Train takes a lot of the work out of making the perfect chai tea latte with these mixes, so do it yourself. All you need to do is heat up the water and blend the tea latte. Your customers will think you spent hours in the back blending the tea and getting it just right. The fact is you have a cost effective and a fast option to provide a new menu item for your customers that will have them begging for more.

For more information regarding Big Train gourmet beverage mix products like Chai lattes, call 800 BIG TRAIN (244-8724) or go to BigTrain.com or follow Big Train on Facebook or twitter. Look for our DIY chai tea latte recipes and instructional videos look for us on YouTube. Cheers!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What is Eggnog?

EggNog Drink Mix by Big TrainWhat is Eggnog?

What is eggnog? That is a question that many ask when it comes around to the Christmas holidays. Eggnog is a tradition that came over to the United States and Canada from England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Due to slight differences in available ingredients as well as changing tastes, the eggnog of today is a bit different from the original English version.

Traditionally eggnog consisted of a mixture of raw eggs, sugar, milk, and spices like nutmeg. In some cases, cream was added for a thicker drink. Another ingredient commonly added to most eggnog recipes is some form of alcohol. Originally, in England, the eggnog was mixed with brandy or Sherry in order to make an eggnog that would not spoil easily. However, when this drink crossed over to North America, the availability of brandy and Sherry made the drink expensive. Substituting Rum became popular before the American Revolution. After the American Revolution, whiskey and bourbon became the liquors of choice for eggnog. Companies like Big Train make eggnog mixes to create a stand alone beverage or as a base for other holiday drink recipes. Whiskey or rum not included.

Here are some interesting facts about eggnog:

  • In North America, eggnog is connected with holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Finding eggnog other times of the year can be very difficult.
  • Today’s eggnog often contains gelatin as a thicker. Traditionally, the thickener of choice was cream.
  • The first mention of eggnog in North America was by Captain John Smith stating that eggnog was a beverage served at Jamestown in 1607.
  • The origins of the word eggnog are somewhat cloudy. Some think it is derived from Old English for eggs served in a small wooden mug.
  • While eggnog is mainly a North American drink today, there are versions found around the world. Iceland has a traditional non-alcoholic dessert that resembles eggnog. The Germans have a version that uses beer instead of hard liquor. Novemberfest?
  • Eggnog has a close tie for toasting one’s health during the holiday season. That derives from a 16th century custom.
  • Other names for eggnog include egg flip, posset, syllabub, coquito (Puerto Rico), biersuppe (Germany), rompope (Mexico) and biblia con pisco (Peru).
  • The first instance of the word eggnog appeared around 1775 according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Common spelling also include Egg Nog.

Around the holiday season, many people look forward to the flavors of eggnog. You can get that traditional flavor with Big Train Eggnog Blended Crème (great as is or with espresso) as a new seasonal gourmet drink mix. For more information on Big Train seasonal gourmet drink mixes go to BigTrain.com or call us at 800 BIG TRAIN (244-8724). Happy holidays! What’s your favorite holiday drink?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Casein Protein – What is it? Learn the Skinny:

What is casein protein?

Casein is a type of protein mainly found in mammalian milk. It makes up over 80% of the proteins found in bovine milk and up to 65% of the protein in human breast milk. Casein is useful for many things including making cheese and in protein supplements. It is very popular with bodybuilders who want to maintain an anabolic state for longer periods.

Casein vs. Whey

How is casein protein different from whey? Casein and whey are both byproducts of milk production. The differences come in how the body processes these proteins. Casein is a slow acting protein. When the milk settles into your stomach, it becomes a solid. The body then feeds off that block of protein for hours afterwards. Whey, on the other hand, is a fast acting protein. The body can take this protein in quickly and convert it into energy. Casein is good for overall protein buildup while whey is great for immediate protein needs.

Casein Absorption Rate

What is the absorption rate for casein protein? The easiest way to measure the absorption rate is to look at when the amino acids in the blood stream tend to peak after consuming casein protein vs. whey. Blood amino acids spike 300 minutes after consumption of casein protein. With whey, that spike happens in less than 90 minutes. That is over 300% difference in time.

Casein Tastes Better

What is the flavor profile of casein protein? Casein protein offers a low flavor profile. That means it does not have a strong flavor that will overwhelm the other flavors that you might want to combine with it.

Casein Protein Sources

Where can you get casein protein? Casein protein is available in cheese products as well as in protein substitute products or supplements. Here at Big Train, we are harnessing the power of casein protein with our line of Fit Frappé™ Protein Drinks. These drinks offer over 20 grams of protein in a single serving. In fact the top ingredient is Calcium Caseinate which provides the casein protein. You get three amazingly delicious coffee flavors: Vanilla Latte, Espresso, Mocha, and two non-coffee flavors, Chocolate, or Vanilla which are great on their own or they can be used as bases for your own personal delightful protein creations.

These drinks will give you that shot of protein you want for long lasting protein power. Moreover, you can do it without high counts in calories, fat, or sugars. Too good to be true? Check out the testimonials here. The slow acting protein will give you that boost you want over the entire day. You also get a shot of caffeine to get you going. If you want a low calorie, high protein drink option, with no aftertaste, then you need to look at Big Train’s Fit Frappe line for your next high protein high energy drink.

For more information regarding Big Train’s Fit Frappé™ gourmet protein drink mixes, checkout FitFrappe.com, or call 800 BIG TRAIN (244-8724) or go to BigTrain.com or follow Big Train on Facebook or twitter. Cheers!