The times of old-fashioned petrol station coffee are over - at least at Shell. The petrol stations of the Dutch-British company are keeping abreast of popular trends and now serve comforting cups that put a smile on coffee lovers' faces.
Working behind the scenes of this coffee revolution is Evelien Vreeke (35). After her Hospitality studies at the Hotelschool The Hague, she worked for almost ten years as an account manager for the coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts. Today, the Gouda native has been with Shell for three and half years as a Category Manager Food and Coffee for the Benelux. At the deli by Shell in Gouda, Evelien talks about the changes in coffee offerings introduced by Shell in past years.
Which types of coffee does Shell offer?
“We make a distinction between highway and non-highway stations. Since last year we have been rolling out a new format in stations that are not located along a motorway – the deli by Shell. There are currently 35 of these throughout the Netherlands. By the start of 2019 this number should have risen to over 40. When we initiated this new concept, we searched for a coffee solution to cater to the new and growing needs of our guests, not only for deli by Shell but also for the Deli2Go locations along highways.”
New and growing needs?
“We noticed that people want a different type of coffee nowadays. Consumers feel more strongly about the quality of their coffee, and guests have become more critical when it comes to coffee. Fully automatic coffee machines no longer provide the experience, nor the quality that our guests now demand. This is why we started thinking about how we can deliver that experience and quality, all the while keeping in mind that we have many locations with a lot of people who have to work with the same system.”
What did you pay the most attention to in your research for a new coffee solution?
“We looked for something that was high-quality yet easy to work with, especially for the personnel. We sell over 50,000 cups of coffee every week at all our Dutch stations. And yet, you do not want to compromise the quality or the experience. You also want to keep a consistent quality at all the stations. It was important to us for the basis to always remain identical. So whether you are in Amsterdam or in Eindhoven, the coffee should taste the same.”
Why this choice?
“Fully automatic coffee machines are not good enough anymore. It was clear to us that we had to start working with semi-automatic machines and grinders. But then frothing the milk became an issue. It’s hard to maintain a consistent quality, it is an art initself. Besides, when you trust upon a steam wand to froth milk, you end up throwing away quite a bit.This is where Lattiz changes things. By just pressing one button you get perfect milk, adjusted for the amount that you need. This means there is virtually no waste. If the staff is well trained, Lattiz really makes their work easier.”
How do you train your personnel?
“We share the education of our staff with our partner Bakerstreet and FrieslandCampina. With the major rollout of Lattiz we have been able to centralise the process. For every new opening we deploy trainers on location. The personnel is trained twice by a barista from FrieslandCampina, for example in latte art.”
So soon you will have cappuccinos with the Shell logo on them?
“Haha, that might be a bit too complicated. But at present my challenge is for everyone to pour a heart in their coffee. That would be fantastic.”
What's the feedback of the personnel?
“So far I’ve only had positive reactions. It is very important for us to involve our personnel in the choices we make. Our staff at the stations already have to do a lot of things: charge for fuel, stock up the shop, and sell coffee and sandwiches. We have thoroughly explained to them why we are introducing these changes – that it has to do with the increased value our guests attach to the quality of the coffee.”
Does it save money?
“Yes. For example, we throw away less milk and the quality has improved considerably. This is also reflected in the increased coffee sales and revenue. Since the introduction of Lattiz our coffee sales have risen by more than 15 per cent. I am absolutely convinced that this is thanks to the quality of the coffee we are serving. People will associate Shell with a good cup of coffee.”
What kind of coffee do you sell the most?
“That remains black coffee. The Dutch are fairly traditional as far as that’s concerned, but the americano is closely followed by cappuccinos and latte macchiatos. And those numbers are constantly increasing. I personally think it’s because of the better quality we are offering: the quality of our regular coffee, but certainly also the coffees with milk in them.”