FROM Brazilian blends to continental cappuccinos, coffee is becoming as broad and complex as any other on-trade drinks category.
While in the past a simple hot beverage offer may have sufficed, operators looking to capitalise on coffee must meet the demands of increasingly knowledgeable customers.
Justin Stockwell, managing director at equipment supplier Caffeine Ltd, said that “customers judge a pub or bar by the drinks it serves”, adding that coffee “is now a familiar part of the offer of the trade”.
“As coffee consumers become more aware of what is available and what they like, there is a greater demand for a wider range of coffees, including iced coffees and flavoured coffees,” he said.
Echoing this view, Andrew Jack of coffee and tea supplier Matthew Algie reckons “we have turned into a nation of coffee lovers”.
“Therefore, it is important for the licensed trade to respond by ensuring they have a high quality coffee offering which will attract coffee lovers and keep them coming back for more,” said Jack.
Quoting research from specialist firm Allegra, Jack said operators are responding and, increasingly, catering to more complex coffee demands.
And he said that licensees looking to grow coffee revenues should look at their opening times, as breakfast is a “key opportunity for attracting coffee drinkers”. With the morning “still the highest consumption period for coffee”, Jack reckons it’s an opportunity that should not be overlooked.
“More and more operators are taking advantage of their premises and getting as much turnover as possible by opening for breakfast,” he said.
He added that, in order to remain relevant, licensees should consult with their supplier, who can advise on the latest coffee trends.
For instance, a growing number of pub and bar operators have started to offer “more artisanal” coffees, such as a guest or seasonal blend, said Jack.
This was echoed by Jenna Horsnell, UK marketing manager at Miko Coffee, who said the real growth opportunities lie in “trading up to higher quality and taking advantage of trends within coffee and related beverages which offer growth in overall numbers as well as in price points and margin”.
“Trending now are speciality single origins, artisan and local roasting, filter coffee, iced coffees and cold brew,” said Horsnell.
“Consumers become more knowledgeable by the day and will seek out all of the above and more.”
In addition to changing consumer trends, technology has played a significant role in the growth of coffee within the licensed trade, according to Stockwell of Caffeine Ltd.
He said as technology has advanced and become more user-friendly, it has become much easier for licensees to offer their customers quality cups of coffee.
“Modern bean-to-cup machines are responsible for the expansion of good quality coffee into pubs and bars where previously it was a no-go,” said Stockwell.
It is important for the trade to ensure they have a high quality coffee offer.
“They offer the ideal solution as you can get close to barista quality using relatively unskilled staff.
“As the technology continues to develop, it’s getting easier for operators to offer a more complex coffee menu as well.”
Taking a similar stance, Phil Smith of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, said “semi or automatic bean to cups eliminate most of the variables” involved with specialist coffee machines, which allows operators “to focus on customer service and pour a consistent coffee with minimal training”.