A hot tip for growing sales

A broad range of products and the right equipment can help boost bar takings, say tea and coffee suppliers

• Heating up: Hot beverages can provide a point of difference and profits, say firms.
• Heating up: Hot beverages can provide a point of difference and profits, say firms.

PUBLICANS that don’t offer their customers a range of top quality hot beverages could be missing a trick – and a crucial opportunity to top up their profits.

Equipment suppliers and brand owners have stressed the importance of hot beverages to the trade, and the difference they can make to an operator’s bottom line.
“Sales of hot beverages and especially coffee in a pub and bar environment have seen a significant increase over recent years, spurred on mainly by the rise in popularity of the nation’s café culture and the trend for speciality coffees and the offering of a diverse hot beverages menu,” said Diane Ho, commercial product manager at Glen Dimplex Professional Appliances.

Specialist coffees are no longer the prerogative of coffee shops.

“To ensure an establishment is able to really maximise on sales and make the most from the sale of these hot beverages, licensed operators should consider the type of equipment used and how it can directly benefit the quality of the beverage being served.”
Using the right equipment is crucial, say suppliers, with quality coffee machines no longer just the province of high street coffee shops.
“Specialist coffees are no longer the prerogative of specialist coffee shops – it’s common to see sophisticated espresso machines in pubs, bars and restaurants,” said Nick Oryino, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).
“The improvements in technology mean push-button, bean-to-cup and pod-based machines can produce excellent coffee – although for the greatest flavour, barista is best.”
As well as helping to diversify an outlet’s product range, a high quality hot beverage offer can provide a venue with a valuable point of difference, according to Richard Pearson, sales director at equipment supplier New Concept.
“The coffee trade is very much a growing trade and is an area where pubs in particular can increase sales by offering something different,” he said.
“We have found that many pubs and bars are willing to invest in coffee machines at the moment as it introduces a different segment of the market into their premises.
“We are still not fully out of the recession and it always helps to have a different reason for customers to spend money.”
Pearson added that products such as chai lattes, coffee syrups and mochas are currently among the most popular with UK consumers.
“People want choice,” said Angus McKenzie, managing director of coffee maker Kimbo. “If you offer not only a good coffee menu, but a good range of teas and a knock’ em dead hot chocolate, you’ll appeal to a wider audience.”
And while a varied range can help to differentiate outlets from their rivals, hot beverages are more than just marketing tools.
“With prices pushing £3 a cup the profit margin on coffee is fantastic,” said Drew Steel, managing director of Ionia Espresso. “A typical 7g shot of espresso works out around 9p if a good quality coffee bean is used.

If you offer a good range of hot drinks you’ll appeal to a wider audience.

“A key ingredient in getting the end product just right is a reliable and experienced machine and bean supplier, who can train staff how to produce great drinks and adapt the grind and temperature to maximise the extraction from the beans to produce the perfect crema.”
And while hot beverages are a year-round proposition, January could be the perfect month to trial an improved selection of drinks, particularly healthier beverages such as green or fruit teas.
John Sutcliffe of Taylors of Harrogate, the company behind the Yorkshire Tea and Taylors Coffee brands, said these products can prove particularly popular in January “with customers looking to detox and get healthy after the indulgence of Christmas”.
“With health a key consumer driver in the last couple of years, we’ve seen green tea transform from a tea drunk by a minority to a heavyweight blend,” said Sutcliffe.
A successful hot beverages range can also have a knock-on effect on other sales, said Sutcliffe, particularly when they are paired with food.
“The hot drink category is very important to [licensees] especially when you consider there’s a huge opportunity for cross-selling food,” he said.
“A quick look at the high street shows how being clever with meal deals and food and drink pairings can give customers value for money and most importantly, get tills ringing for [operators].
“Considering the average hot drink costs just a few pence to make, getting customers to trade up to a breakfast roll, pastry or that slice of cake will prove really profitable.
“Marketing is key to making cross-selling successful; use menus, loyalty cards and tent cards, and make sure staff are trained to always suggest and ask if customers would like some food with their brew.”