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  • Writer's pictureSean Willard

The Coffeemania Cup: A lesson from our friends in Moscow on Menu Development & Employee Engagement

Where do new menu ideas come from?

…a hired Chef Consultant? Ownership on vacation in Tahiti or Bora Bora? What the kitchen staff eats after hours?

For our friends at Coffeemania in Moscow, it comes from heated competition within their own organization.

When Gregg Rapp and I had the opportunity to work with the Coffeemania team in December 2015, they hosted us at an event unlike any other I’ve ever experienced before, or since then. An annual staff celebration of creativity and team building - The Coffeemania Cup.

With 29 locations at the time, they pitted teams from each location against one another in competition on two tracks - one for chefs / culinary, the other for baristas on beverages.

The goal was simple: create the best new menu items, using ingredients that were already in-house.

The winning teams would receive exploratory, half work, half vacation trips through Europe to learn more about their craft - be it coffee or culinary learnings. The judges were well known food reviewers and journalists, there were big brass bands, professional hosts, and bleacher seating for family & friends.

The results of this type of competition are nothing short of outstanding and here’s a glimpse at what I mean (and please excuse the poor camera work, it was 2015):

Menu Engineers: Gregg & Sean in Red Square

For restaurateurs and operators, you don’t need to throw a Coffeemania Cup (you might, though…) but where and how do you drive creativity and team building within your organization?

I’d love to learn more about what you do to create new menu items and build cohesion within your team. Please feel free to drop me a line at, …and keep creating!



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