Ever since its discovery in Ethiopia in the ninth century, coffee has been one of the most popular drinks in the world. More than 400 billion cups of it are drunk each year, with the UK spending £730m on the rich, dark liquid in 2007.
Today, more than 11 million people visit a coffee shop at least once a week, so with demand so high, how can the pub and restaurant sectors cash in on such a rapidly growing market?
Speaking at the PubChef forum at London`s Claridges Hotel, Sam Pedder, head of food at Admiral Taverns, said providing decent coffee can be one of the least expensive concepts to put together, as waste is low, margins are high (even higher than chips) and can even encourage food sales in the right environment.
“If you are doing coffee well, the customers are going to think you’re doing everything else well too,” she said, although she warns pubs against getting too big for their boots. “Competing with the high street for the most part is not easily achievable so my proposition is to match the high street where relevant, and beat them at their own game when they are closed or not in the vicinity.”
Pubs and restaurants have the advantage over franchised coffee shops in many areas - food can be made freshly on the premises; service can be more personal as staff identify with regulars; and of course alcohol can also be served.
And despite the government’s scorn at happy hour offers, pubs will be in a prime position to pick up their sales during the day, as 34 per cent of coffee sales take place between meals.
So warm, cosy and comfortable pubs can be the perfect breeding ground for coffee lovers looking for a haven to enjoy their favourite drink, especially where there is no alternative establishment nearby.
Pedder, a previous integral member of the Coffee Republic team, has given her top tips for pubs to get ahead and make the most of this growing trend:
Get a coffee machine for your needs
"There are a lot of options”, says Pedder. “It is crucial what you buy and that it is relevant to your location. Grigia machines, though producing the best coffee, will escalate your labour and training costs – there are other solutions out there like the Just a Kettle concept.”
Think about your accoutrements
Make sure all crockery and teaspoons are in good condition and match, there’s nothing worse than drinking great coffee from a chipped mug. Choose biscuits over muffins as they have a longer life, and invest in small savoury foods, as this is an area most coffee shops tend to ignore. Avoid using UHT milk jiggers – pubs usually have fridges so you can keep fresh milk in those.
Team up with a strong brand
Customers are more likely to buy coffee if it is a brand they recognise, so buy a coffee machine and beans that have a strong stand in the marketplace. You can then cash in on using such a big name by using staff T-shirts as advertising, but remember to always look at what the coffee companies can do for you first.
Create an atmosphere
Coffee drinkers want to sit back and relax, so invite them in by investing in a couple of cosy couches and coffee tables. Most people think with their noses before their tongues so use the smell of your coffee to entice people inside.
Sell, sell, sell
Train your staff to upsell coffee at every opportunity, after lunch, after dinner, and during cold days, especially with the winter coming. Spend your marketing money wisely, using visual space both inside and outside the pub. Create a coffee menu, and don’t forget to include teas, hot chocolates and the opportunity for takeaways as part of your offering.