Let's face it: one of the reasons people line up everyday willing pay $5 and up for coffee served to them in paper cups by unsmiling baristas is because most bars and restaurants can't manage to serve coffee of any real quality. Espresso arrives to the table at even the most expensive fine dining restaurants tepid and with little or no crema, while standard American brewed coffee is likely to sit too long on the burner or made with stale, pre-packed grind.
That indifferent bar and restaurant coffee experience most definitely has contributed to the decline of quality concoctions, including Irish Coffees, made with spirits. The renowned winter warmer had fallen into such disrepair that when Sean Muldoon and company planned to open the Dead Rabbit, one of the biggest successes in the Drink World in the past few years, returning Irish Coffee to its rightful place as a well-executed classic beverage was near the top of the list. But making a great Irish Coffee isn't just about including quality hand-whipped cream and taking the time to make sure the sweet/strong/bitter/potent balance was right. Having quality, fresh and strong coffee, the basis of the drink, is essential.
So, what's the solution to making sure your coffee service is up to snuff? A lot depends on how much you currently serve and where you want to take the service, but with so many brewing options available, it would be foolish not to consider moving to a process that works for you.
Cold brewed coffee, for instance, provides a deep richness to the brew without too much bitterness, and can be brewed to be concentrated and suitable for inclusion in cocktails. Cold coffee beverages with or without alcohol even stands up well to quick reheating via microwaving. French press coffee makes much better sense, and a chance to increase the check average, when table service for two or more is common, but suppliers offer press pots in a variety of sizes including individual serves. Single cup pour-over drip coffee has become the style du jour in many coffee-crazed markets, and when an operator takes the time to strategize how to execute, it's a format that can make your coffee service stand out.
The point: most operators still prefer outsourcing their coffee decisions to the brewing supplier, even at a time when bars and restaurants have been making their own sodas, syrups, bitters and juices. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but the lack of attention does help explain why customers are less likely to turn to your establishments when a $8 - $10 Irish Coffee is what they want, and why the style has faded, either as an afternoon delight or a contemplative post-dinner treat. Sometimes food and drink items go out of style because the industry simply does a bad job in crafting them. Maybe other bars will pick up the challenge made by Muldoon and Co. at the Dead Rabbit - after all, winter's not over yet.