Alan Tomlins, MD and co-founder of Small Batch Coffee Roasters, will be taking part in two lunch! Keynote panels this year, including The Coffee Cup Debate on Friday 21 September. He’ll be appearing alongside Sam Roberts, CEO & co-owner of Boston Tea Party, and Ollie Rosevear, head of environment at Costa Coffee, sharing their strategies for reducing single use disposable items from their businesses. 

Brighton-based Small Batch recently introduced in-store paper cup recycling and are launching a city-wide cup recycling initiative for independent coffee shops. The session will be hosted by Martin Kersh, chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association. Head to Keynote Theatre 2 at 2.15pm to find out more.

Alan will also be taking part in the Growing Coffee Shops panel on opening day (20 September), discussing the pros and cons of brand expansion in 2018, alongside Henry Ayers, director of The Gentlemen Baristas, Prue Freeman, director of Daisy Green Collection, and (chair) Anya Marco.

What do you feel is the key for operators to successfully compete against their competitors?

Customer service is always the key differentiator in competitive markets. Many factors feed into this, training, staff hiring and retention, employee happiness and engagement, but good service always tastes good.

What do you see as key trends for food-to-go in the coming year? 

Vegan and free from will continue to grow in importance. Personally I’d like to see the growth of quality coffee in bigger operators.

What’s your bestselling product at the moment?

Flat White. Always has been, always will be.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Working directly with coffee producers to create sustainable and mutually-beneficial supply chains, then watching those grow as our business grows.

And the most challenging?

Right now we are in a hyper-competitive coffee and cafe market in the UK. It is tough for everyone with so much competition and I worry about specialty coffee becoming diluted in such an environment.

How important is lunch! to the food-to-go sector?

It’s the key trade show for our food focus and a great way to connect and learn.

Describe the lunch! trade show in 3 words

Current, evolving, and essential.

Who or what inspires you to be even better?

Our staff and our competition. We have around 100 employees, so our staff motivate me to grow the business for them and they inspire me with fresh energy ideas and passion. The competition inspires as specialty coffee is still a young and developing industry. We look to our peers as well as ourselves to keep pushing our industry forward.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Time to lean, time to clean.”

See Alan at lunch! 2018

Growing Coffee Shops panel: 2.45pm in Keynote Theatre 1 on Thursday 20 September
The Coffee Cup Debate panel
: 2.15pm in Keynote Theatre 2 on Friday 21 September

To register for a free trade ticket, please click here.

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