Travel Essentials: The Dire State of The Hotel Coffee Station

Tragic – that seems an apt word to describe the paltry serving of most ‘Coffee Stations’ in hotel rooms.

Not even international luxury hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, Tsogo Sun, and Starwood, are immune to sequestering the essential amenity into a dark corner, portable unit, or cupboard, with as little care and consideration as they pick their tea or coffee station’s beverage selection.

Coffee and tea are a fundamental component of one of the most celebrated morning rituals globally – a warmth down the throat that signifies life can go on.

Following the evolution that’s happening in hospitality, where such typically traditional facilities offered within guest rooms and suites, are being discontinued, there has been a rise in hipper or more energy and cost-effective alternatives (and hygiene & health-considering options), including:

Century City Hotel
(Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Cold Brew stations
  • Hands-free coffee machines
  • Pop-Up Coffee stands
  • Complimentary on-request tea or coffee service
  • And access to a communal coffee bar.

However, there has been no tasty improvement in the varietals within the tea and coffee stations that continue to act as conveniences to a large portion of travellers.

To the savvy traveller, the kettle and tea & coffee accoutrements – and sometimes biscuit – are the fortification before, or balm after, a hectic time out in the real world. They’re a necessity for the noodle-toting budget traveller, and a begrudging choice when hotel kitchens are closed and takeout coffee seems unbearably indulgent.

“Oatmeal and dried fruit have become a staple while I’m traveling (just add hot water). When I’m faced with an underwhelming hotel breakfast, I just ask for a bowl and enjoy the most important meal of the day in the privacy of my room.”

Christopher Elliot. (2022). Wall Street Journal.

To the uncivilized outliers, the station is even a grand stop to boil their underoos too, I’ve terrifyingly read.

*P.S: Always check your kettle, cups and stirrers for cleanliness.

Additionally, boil the first pot of water and throw it into the toilet to be flushed down later.

Hotel du Parc (Cape Town, South Africa)

I am making a case for the Tea & Coffee station in the face of a world filled with a growing number of some of the most excellent coffee and tea companies. I’m making a case for the delicious and refreshing tea bags and coffee sachets produced by both the big and small companies (like Enmasse or Truth Coffee) – many actually providing options for bespoke beverage choices tailored to your clientele, as well as wholesale prices for bulk purchases.

There is also the case of plastic reduction and environmental conservation

where rethinking your plastic milk pods, and honey, sugar, and coffee sachets could mean a significant decrease in your establishments’ plastic use.

This is something at the forefront of so many people’s minds and important in their lifestyles, that it could be a marketing tool, is an industry best practice, and the clincher in getting a whole host of environmentally-conscious guest bookings!

In a time where hotels have also felt burdened by the dining demands of guests, as well as the dynamic menus laid out by competition for every meal, this tidy corner of a room or suite could also be a sustainable saving grace. Your in-house team would not need to part with essential help on a far more urgent task, to simply deliver hot water, quality tea or coffee, sugar and milk. Having an excellent Tea & Coffee Station could mean ease of burden and guests descending once they’ve enjoyed a genuinely lovely cuppa at their convenience throughout the day – perhaps ensuring they’re more polite to those on-duty.

Wherever I am, and regardless of time, I care most about the taste of my tea, to be honest. I down tea in large portions and make it very distinctly depending on whether it’s a loose leaf or tea bag, Oolong or Black tea. And so the setups I’ve encountered thus far, haven’t inspired me to be anything but disappointed.

Boschendal (Franschhoek, South Africa)

My moue of disappointment was prominent even when I asked the incredible team at Belmond Mount Nelson why they didn’t have a fine medley of coffee and tea at the ready in-room – considering their restaurant High Teas are lauded both locally and internationally, for being an exquisite experience, made especially so due to the curated and cared for selection of teas.

I got a heady selection of loose leaf teas delivered to my room, of course, but I do think it sure would be something if guests arrived to a delectable assortment without prompt.

Belmond Mount Nelson (Cape Town, South Africa)

There’s good tea and coffee out there, and some of it is even reasonable and local to the establishment. Uplift your local non-alcohol-producing beverage entrepreneur and elevate your guests’ next in-room cuppa. If there’s someone hired to stock these wares, then they’re doing a disservice to your hospitality brand so far; I just know it.

Make the change!

“75% of people said that they believe unique dining experiences are worth paying more for – whether this revolves around an elaborate dinner, or even just grabbing their morning coffee.”

Single Platform. (2022). The Coffee Industry is Changing: How Will Your Business Adapt?

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