In the black: Quality coffee could hold the key to customer retention for pubs

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coffee, Fast food outlets

Coffee lovers surveyed by United Coffee ranked the quality of the hot drinks in pub lower than that of fast food restaurants
Coffee lovers surveyed by United Coffee ranked the quality of the hot drinks in pub lower than that of fast food restaurants
Pubs are increasingly realising the importance of coffee for their business, with national operators now selling more of the hot beverage than high street coffee shops. However, a ‘quality’ cup is apparently still hard to find in the licensed trade as just 10 per cent of customers rate the coffee offering of pubs as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

That’s according to a survey of 2,000 coffee drinkers by coffee solutions provider United Coffee, which found that pubs are ranked lower than independent and fine-dining restaurants (64 per cent) and even fast food outlets (22 per cent) when it comes to serving quality coffee.

What’s more, a coffee offering can have a significant impact on how likely a customer is to return to the venue, with 33 per cent of pub-goers citing poor-quality coffee as a ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ reason not to come back.

This supports a similar survey conducted last year​by automated coffee machine manufacturer Nespresso, which found that a quarter of diners wouldn't return somewhere that served them a bad cup of coffee.

Case Study: TCG

TCG’s commercial director Nick Francis and chief operating officer Nigel Wright enjoy a cup of Cafeology coffee on the company’s flagship site, the Tattershall Castle

Coffee has become a 'growing part of the sales mix' at pub and bar group TCG, according to chief operating officer Nigel Wright whose company has just formed a new partnership with a coffee supplier to boost its sales further.  

The pubco, which currently operates 75 pubs and bars, has secured the services of Cafeology.​The Fairtrade supplier will supply coffee to the majority of TCG’s sites and provide hands-on barista training for all operational staff.  

“Increasingly our venues are trading for longer hours,” said Wright. “This partnership puts us on a strong footing to develop our coffee sales and daytime business.

“Working with Cafeology, an independently owned British company, will give us a point of difference in the competitive coffee market.”

Increasing popularity

Although it still lags behind other countries in Europe in terms of overall sales, the UK was also the only country in Europe to see out-of-home consumption of coffee increase with the number of in-house visits up 3.5 per cent last year.

Latest figures from information company NPD Group show that coffee shops sales have increased by 5 per cent in the UK in the last four years,​with £1.4bn cups sold last year.

Meanwhile, Marimba World Chocolate, the specialist chocolatier and hot chocolate producer, recently undertook its own informal research into the names of cafes, coffee shops and tea rooms across the UK, identifying some interesting findings. 

From almost 15,000 establishments, only 17 have ‘teashop’ in the name, compared to 1,630 that favour ‘coffee’-related names. Brad Wright, operations manager for Marimba World Chocolate said: “With such a large database, we thought it would be interesting to analyse the names of the independent cafes across the country to see what’s really in a name. 

“What is clear is that coffee-branded outlets have overtaken teashops, showing that while we still love ‘a good cup of tea’, coffee is an increasingly popular choice.”

Coffee explosion

This increasing popularity can be seen in the new outlets opening in shopping centres and leisure developments across the UK. As BigHospitality reported just last week, a former bank in Birmingham city centre is set to undergo a £16m revamp​which will see it re-open as a 137-bedroom hotel, 53 serviced apartments and a new café/restaurant next year.

The first business to sign up to the new development: A coffee shop. Birmingham-based café chain Urban Coffee Company took the 1,733 sq.ft ground-floor space, with owner Simon Jenner claiming the recent explosion of the independent coffee scene has been ‘fantastic’.

“It gives the consumer so much choice within the sector,” said Jenner. “As a result, we’ve had to stay right at top of our game and work hard to stay ahead.”

The results of this new survey by United coffee also highlighted an emerging consumer trend which could be of particular relevance for food-led pubs and restaurants: ‘coffee as the new dessert’. Eight out of 10 consumers now consider ordering a coffee rather than dessert when eating out, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) regularly choosing coffee over the dessert option on the menu.

The type of establishment consumers dine in affects the type of coffee they choose – filter coffee is a popular choice when drinking in pubs, branded restaurants and fast food outlets but when eating in a fine dining setting an espresso is the preferred coffee to end a meal.

Related news

Show more


Neglecting the Beer Drinker

Posted by David Earle,

I find many pubs are neglecting the beer drinkers. Sometimes in my locals (Large Chains" all the staff are busy serving frothy coffee and the man who just wants a pint of bitter can wait over 10 minitues to get served. Why dont they have dedicated staff to serve this beverage?

Report abuse

Not just pubs serve bad coffee

Posted by Andy Whiteman,

Most budget hotels serve absolute rubbish coffee. So bad that I take my own and a cafetiere so that I can have a decent cup in the morning.....anyone serving filter coffee these days needs to stop - after 20 mins it oxidises and tastes for the stuff in those horrible thermos flask things it's like drinking dishwater....

Report abuse


Follow us

Hospitality Guides

View more

Featured Suppliers

All suppliers