I’ve got nothing against coffee shop owners personally. We are just not on the same page when it comes to serving tea. Most coffee shops, especially those big chains, go to great effort to provide freshly roasted, freshly ground, well prepared coffee, while their tea customers get a bag of ancient tea dust on a string with luke warm water in a paper cup that tastes like, well, wet paper, to be polite. What would happen to their business if they gave customers a bag of 6 month old coffee grounds on a string and a cup of warm water?
Serving great loose leaf tea is so economical and easy. Why are so many coffee shops afraid to try?
Economical – It takes a good, lined paper cup to protect the flavor, water, a t-sac tea filter ($0.02 – $0.04), and loose tea. Many good loose teas are available for between $10.00 and $20.00 per pound, so an adequate initial offering of 5 varieties can be had for under $100.00. A pound of tea will produce roughly 80 to 90 10 or 12 oz. cups of tea, so the per cup cost is easily under $0.25 per cup. So, less than $0.50 for a product that routinely sells for $2.50 or more.
Easy – Fill a t-sac with loose tea, fill a cup with boiling water, add the t-sac, add a lid to keep the heat in. Give to the customer and tell them when to remove the tea (typically after two minutes). It’s hard to pour a cup of coffee any faster.
Another good reason for choosing loose leaf teas is that the variety is nearly limitless. Having weekly, monthly, or seasonal variations to the menu offers endless possibilities, drives customer interest, and creates motivation to return to the shop frequently.
Finally, don’t ever, never, never, never, heat or store hot water, or make tea, in a container that has ever had coffee in it.
Now I know some servant hearted coffee shop owner is thinking “I’m doing good. I serve loose leaf tea in those nice silk sachet bags.” Get real. You’ve progressed from Maxwell House to Dunkin Donuts. You’re still not even at Starbucks level.
So, give credit where credit is due. If you patronize or operate a coffee shop serving good loose leaf tea and doing it well, give some credit here!