Setting up a great hospitality area in your church that makes a great impression for a red carpet hospitality experience.
We've all seen the rather sad looking coffee areas in other churches that look like they need an episode by Extreme Makeover or DIY SOS to get them habitable again! But it is possible to make great coffee and refreshment areas without breaking the bank or having to call in the professionals.
We'll cover some key principles in this guide, helping point you in the right direction to getting the right coffee station feel for your church.
Is it obvious to a newbie?
Put yourself in the shoes of your guest and see how the area feels from the start - be critical (they might be!) and try and see it with fresh eyes to work out how your coffee area really feels. Is it obvious to find or is it poked away in a corner of your church building? Can you spot it from the entrance and exits so you know as soon as you walk in where it is?
Guests often love to grab a coffee after a service (harder to get single guests to stay I have found!) but most of the time, if it's convenient, quick and easy to grab a decent coffee, most people are ready for one after an hour or two.
Make sure that the location of your coffee station works for your building layout.
For most of us there's a big dose of reality here with listed buildings, awkward spaces and things like access and kitchen proximity to work out - but if your ready to make big changes (only if they are needed!), you can really make your area into something quite special. Now, if you don't have a nice big square to work with, you'll probably have walls, corners and corridors to contend with. Fear not. Simple, clean, on-brand signage can make the impossible, possible. Guests don't mind walking round a corner if it looks welcoming, inviting and there's a clear direction to go.
This is an important one, and it's not often we have seen it done right. Too bright and guests feel like they are on display. Too dark and your overly friendly steward suddenly has the feeling of a mugger! Jokes aside... put those fresh eyes on again and see what it might look like to a newbie.
Use accent, spot and uplighting to create visual interest and add texture to the room.
By adding some spot and accent lighting you can raise the general ambient light of a space without using harsh floodlighting to make the area feel more like a coffee interrogation area. On trend at the moment is the large Edison style LED filament bulbs, they add a warm glow thanks to their soft orangey tones, but add a good amount of ambient light, or when used near pillars, walls or hanging in bunches - they create a visual focus to the space. Creating a focus on some sort is really important. Much like a fireplace used to do in many homes (now replaced by TV's!) a focus helps the space feel grounded and welcoming.
Also consider the warmth of your lighting - what sort of colours are the bulbs? As a general rule: Warm, soft oranges feel welcoming, cold whites and blues feel...cold. You might have restrictions from certain lights (sodium bulbs for example) but do what you can - bring in spot lights, uplighters or LED can lighting. Blend different types of lighting to make the space feel welcoming and exciting - it's this which peoples unconscious brain notices and feels at home in.
Heating and cooling
Another one that's hard for many of us with old or even listed buildings, we know keeping a space warm enough or cool enough can be a challenge. So although there's only so much you can do...have you done it?
Does your welcome zone or refreshment area need a little space heater in deepest December to make it habitable? If so, get it. No one wants to hang around in a freezing building, even if the coffee you serve is incredible - a warm seat in the car has much more appeal at that point! Even a small space heater around a few cafe tables inside the vestry is going to be far more welcoming than no heat and cold lighting.
Mobile air conditioning units are great choices if you have the capital and layout that makes them appropriate. Not only do modern AC unit's provide near instant heating and cooling, but they are far more efficient than convection and thermal space heaters. Mobile units can be used to heat large rooms or even just the coffee station area so that people congregate in the zone you have created.
Cooling is usually a little easier for most of us with older buildings, but if you have a newer space you may want to get a couple of large fan's or even consider the AC units to bring a refreshing chill to the air. I have seen these draw crowds after the service - whats better than enjoying a fresh coffee whilst standing in the coolest place in town?!
Colours and Branding
Your church may have great branding already - well done - so make sure if filters through to the refreshment and coffee area. Are your tablecloths the same colour as your logo's main colour? Do you have your logo on signs you may have made? Do your stewards and welcome team have lanyards or badges on with your logo and colours?
Now it might seem OTT, but having a clear and consistent message is not just about winning PR branding points - it's about helping people feel safe in your space.
Keeping your branding and colours consistent helps your guests feel welcome and relaxed, this is because their mid-brain is being fed information that helps it know it's in a safe place. Let me explain... when the human brain processes information the midbrain and cerebellum process the information around us to work out if we are in a safe place or if our body needs to be moved into action to get out of danger. This fight or flight goes on all the time unconsciously in all of us, but we often don't think about this in our churches - but it's really important.
If our surroundings seem consistent, attractive, friendly and safe - we'll want to stay in them. If not, we're going to want to leave.
So by keeping your areas the right colours (linked to your church logo, branding and venue) you'll be helping your visitors unconsciously feel welcome and relaxed. And that's a great way to to start welcoming people into your coffee area.
Keeping it clean - easy to clean
It may sound obvious, but designing your coffee station to be as easy to clean as possible is really important. Clean coffee area equals happy coffee drinkers. If you have 5 star rated kitchens that's great, but how the kitchen and serving spaces look makes a big difference to not only hygiene, but also satisfied drinkers will be.
Some tips to getting it right:
Consider the surface - do you have tablecloths or wipe down surfaces. You can get great wx or PVC coated tablecloths that are easy and quick to clean, and can match your church colours.
Is it easy for people to clean up after themselves. Sugar always ends up everywhere, but making it as easy as possible to clean up after themselves helps not onyl cut down on the hard work, but keeps areas looking great.
Use sustainable, disposable serving equipment and cups if this is right for your church (more on this later).
Keep cleaning sprays and BluRoll to hand - again, make it as easy as possible to clean as you go will keep the area looking fresh
Make sure your coffee brewing equipment is easy to clean - time and time again I have helped churches with our coffee and found they haven't ever cleaned out their filter machine. Let us help guide you through some simple steps and you'll be serving our incredible coffee at its best. We supply the equipment to help you save time and money when serving great coffee.
Are you being served? Self service or team service - having the right people for the job
This will largely come down to a few things: the style of your church and who you have available and willing to do the hard work. Serving great coffee does require a little effort, but it shouldn't be hard when the efforts applied the right way. We're here to help you have the right church coffee supplies and reduce the time and hard work it takes.
Self service or part self service is popular amongst many churches because you can have meaningful human interaction with people when it count's and use your time better when it's not required. Do you really require someone to stand there and press the coffee pump or can a guest do that whilst you chat to them about the sermon and get to know them? I am not saying either is more important, but sometimes it help to reconsider what you do to make sure your having maximum impact where it counts, not where it doesn't.
On the other hand, if you have some wonderful people who love what they do and are born natural hospitality providers, then great - use them where they have their God given talents and get them providing a 5 star, full works coffee service - brilliant! This is all down to who you are as a church and who you have available. feel free to drop us a line if you'd like some support choosing what sort of service style and the coffee equipment you might need. We're very happy to help you with some free advice and suggestions because we have the hospitality experience to know the right sort of things to think of when serving coffee in churches.
Another important thing to make sure you have is the right people on your refreshments team. Don't put moaning Meg on the team if all she ever does is moan and mope! Put happy Harry on your team to help spread the joy of God's love!
Are you sitting comfortably?
Now I could start a whole new consulting business on church seating (maybe another day!) but the important thing to remember is, work with what you've got, not what you'll never have. Whether it's a wonky church pew or plush arm chairs, keep your refreshment area welcoming and friendly by keeping the seating just right for your setting. By that I mean:
Do you actually need seats?
Sometimes seats are really important. Particularly for elderly or those requiring assistance, but sometimes they just get in the way. Consider how many seats is right for your congregation and the sorts of guests you welcome. I have seen lots of churches have standing only refreshment areas with high cafe bar style tables to help provide space for drinks and keeping it social.
Are there enough seats?
Sometimes you just don't need seats, sometimes you do. But it's important that if your setting up a cafe zone, you have the right amount of seats for those who will want them.
How easy to clean are they?
We've mentioned it already, but easy to clean is key. Armchairs can look great and be super comfy, but how do they cope when your Sunday school are let loose on them? It's important your chairs are cost effective, can be regularly wiped clean and look good.
Are they comfortable?
Having the right seats in your drinks area means they also need to deliver on the right level of comfort. Did you know McDonalds design their seating to actually be uncomfortable after about 12 minutes because they wanted you to leave to free up space for more customers? Now I am not suggesting you do that, but consider levels of comfort again cost, and ease of cleanliness.
The tea and coffee - the right quality, ethics and price
And let's not forget what we do best - great coffee! The tea and coffee you serve as naturally going to be really important.
Not only does the taste matter to your regular congregation, but increasingly guests and visitors do really notice what your serve. Why? Because it shows you care.
How we serve our refreshments as well as what we put in the cup really does matter, and it's noticed. Take this site for example picking up on London church cafes. It's clear not only the church insiders, but the visitors looking in (and to) the church care about what goes in the coffee cup. Our coffee is ethically sourced, tastes incredible and even though it's a higher grade than other roasters economy blends - it still delivers incredible value at lower cost.
Our fairly traded coffee needs to deliver time and time again on value and the service we provide it with, which is why we take the time to ensure we meet your expectations and those of your guests. Making sure you serve great coffee with us is easy because it's what we have done for years ourselves - serving great coffee in church to happy congregations. We have been active members of local churches for over 25 years, so we really do have the unique experience of knowing what it's like serving in church, which is why we are so passionate about helping support you and making your life easier.
To wash or not to wash. That is the question.
We are firm believers in making sure you have the right tools for the right job - so here is an example of when one size doesn't fit all. Sometimes having biodegradable cups is the right choice, other times it isn't. So when are biodegradable and recyclable cups a good choice?
When you don't have decent washing up facilities (hygienic washing uses lots of energy and water for example)
When you need something quick, easy and cost effective
When you want a sustainable, ethical choice that will compost, be recycled or biodegrade
When your serving drinks out and about away from your usual space - offering takeaways for example
When you use cups infrequently, disposable ones are actually much better due to lower manufacturing carbon footprints
There's lot's of different schools of thought on whether reusable or disposable cups are better for the environment, with things to think about such as whether the cup can be reused (drink more than one coffee? - great your doing your bit to reduce carbon!) and how much energy and water are required to hygienically wash ceramic cups.
This is a really complex area to get right because there are so many factors that can take play when choosing the best cups for your church coffee refreshments. But we have found that our biodegradable and recyclable cups offer a great choice to make serving coffee in your church easier, ethical and lowest cost.
and last but not least...
The Great Goodbye - how do people leave?
Now people have come to your church, enjoyed the service (hopefully!), enjoyed a tasty coffee (definitely if your serving our coffee with our support) and about to head on their way - how good is your goodbye?
As guests come into your church and inevitably leave after a drink, does your welcome or stewarding team make sure they leave well? It's just as important as your welcome... maybe even more so as by this point people are naturally less forgiving! Ensure your refreshment area is well located, has clear signs to the exit and has relevant materials people can take away. Maybe a welcome pack (even a brief one is great), information about your church or how they can get connected during the week are all really important things to help people leave your building well.
Your people are really important in continuing the Christian Hospitality Experience as guests leave.
By making sure you have friendly and switched on people mingling around in your refreshment station area, you'll be sure to catch even those making a quick exit. All it takes is a friendly "Goodbye" or "Hope to see you again, thanks for coming" to make all the difference between helping someone feel they connected and someone leaving like a stranger. These moments really matter when it comes to overall hospitality experience, because although your coffee will be great at this point, it's the people connection that actually matters.
Thanks for reading, and if you'd like some free church coffee help or advice please do drop me a line or order incredible coffee through our site.
Call: 01202 300834
BUY COFFEE: here