Colin Nagy, head of strategy at Fred & Farid, a global advertising agency, writes this opinion column for Skift on hospitality, innovation, and business travel. “On Experience” dissects customer-centric experiences and innovation across hospitality, aviation, and beyond. 

Over the past several years, almost every conceivable surface area of hospitality has been examined and re-invented. Some for the good, some for the bad.

There’s the more extraneous elements, like pillow menus and initiatives started with a cynical public relations headline in mind, but then there are also huge advancements in things like customer relationship management, the check-in process and also the ability to stream your own media in your room.

Even food and beverage has evolved. You’re getting very complicated cocktails at what used to be a the hotel watering hole, and a variety of the ever proliferating array of local craft beers.

But one of the largest areas of consumer interest, craft coffee, has been missing. One of the most contradictory experiences can be staying in a fantastic hotel that still manages to serve up a cup (or a pot) of lackluster coffee for a hefty sum.

Some people have taken to bringing their own little rig on the road, with an Aeropress, a mini-grinder, and the accouterment necessary to brew their own. It’s a kit to keep the morale up, when you can’t get the perfect dose from your local barista.

Tradecraft Outfitters

Enter Tradecraft Outfitters. Its idea is bringing craft coffee, with all of its nuances, varieties and local roasters, to hotels in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Other category disruptors have transformed various industries by offering new and painstakingly unique choices to consumers — and the company believes that the same story is playing out in coffee and tea.

Typically hotels have one big contract with some of the massive players, including Starbucks, Royal Cup or Illy.

“The thesis of our company is that that this model is inconsistent with the consumer’s expectations, says Michael Klong, CEO of Tradecraft. “We see a massive parallel with craft beer and where craft coffee is going right now.”

The trend lines are encouraging. There’s been a 340 percent increase in Cold Brew sales from 2010 to 2015, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Tea Time

One-third of adult consumers drink specialty coffee, up from one in four just five years ago. Consumption of specialty tea, like matcha and tumeric, is also surging.

Tradecraft is working directly with hotels to provide craft coffee and tea with the equipment, training, service, and accessories they need. The company has local relationships with some names that, for coffee nerds, will jump off the page at you, including Verve in Santa Cruz, California; Zingermans in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Parlor in Brooklyn, New York.

The big idea is to make it easy for a larger, national hotel chains to conduct local, nuanced and interesting coffee programs that make sense cost-wise.

On the overall experience coming together, Klong commented, “Offering great coffee and tea from a local/unusual choice brings a high-quality experience to guests and makes a hotel feel like it’s more connected to its location. We supply with a universe of craft choices so they can deliver tailored experiences per location—which lines up perfectly with what the lifestyle brands are trying to do.”

And without the hassle of having to do it all yourself, including equipment, roaster relationships and barista training.

Some Tradecraft Outfitters’ initial launch partners include Graduate Hotels as well as Commune Hotels, with the launch of one of the nation’s largest hotel chains expected to be announced in the coming months.

Photo Credit: Craft coffee, fast becoming a hospitality trend, at Stir in Cambridge, UK. Bex Walton /