By Kiki Deere
Pistachio iced lattes, butter coffees, spiced cold brews, nitrogen fuelled coffees… Weird and wonderful coffee flavours are increasingly becoming the norm as coffee culture on the high street booms.
According to the British Coffee Association, 16% of us visit coffee shops on a daily basis, while 80% do so at least once a week. With 95 million cups of coffee drunk a day around the UK, it comes as no surprise that the country’s café culture is thriving, with artisan coffee shops popping up at every corner to cater to a millennial crowd seeking a caffeine fix.
“There’s an emergent consumer trend of expecting good coffee wherever you go,” explains Tim Wookey, co-founder of Midnight Blue. “Independent coffee shops are on a mission to produce high quality coffee for consumers, experimenting with tastes and flavour combinations to keep customers enthused. Innovation is great as it makes more people interested in coffee, but there’s still a fair way to go.”
Tim explains that when dining out, we tend to spend a substantial amount of time mulling over both the food and wine menus, but we are very rarely presented with a coffee menu. “We at Midnight Blue want to raise the profile of great coffee and highlight why it should be on a par with good wine and spirits,” he continues.
General Manager of Harrods Restaurants Ashley Saxton explains that the luxury hospitality sector is already witnessing major changes. “No longer are the days when coffee is just an upsell at the end of the meal and ignored by restaurateurs. Coffee is very much in the limelight, with customers and expectations for a good quality cup ever growing,” he explains.
“Education in restaurants is now ever more important as we expand our menus and serves away from the usual espresso and filter based coffees to more elaborate serves in Chemex, V60, magic drips, and so on. We have also expanded our menu offering with multiple roasts, beans and origins available for customers to choose from and experiment with. It’s proving to be very successful, in particular for our regular guests who have the opportunity to consume new products in their preferred environment,” Ashley explains.
Coffee also appears to be pushing new boundaries in terms of what customers are willing to pay. “We are seeing more than ever coffee being sold at £35 a cup. Excellence and highly Q graded coffee are key, along with a well informed and trained team who understand the product and are capable of getting the message across to customers as to what makes the coffee so special,” Ashley continues.
Coffee may not quite be on an equal footing with wine (not yet, at least), although UK consumers are certainly becoming increasingly more knowledgeable – and, as a result, more demanding – about coffee. Premium ground coffee and coffee pods are more and more popular, especially among millennials, who expect more than an ‘OK’ coffee.
Companies are thinking creatively to cater to this new consumer generation. Midnight Blue’s Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is released at a particular time of year (it must be pre-ordered) to make sure it’s absolutely fresh. “We roast exactly the right amount so the coffee is as fresh as it could be when it reaches our customers at home,” explains Tim.
Today’s coffee drinkers are not only on a hunt for top-quality beans, but they’re environmentally conscious too, choosing companies that offer ethically sourced beans that come in eco-friendly pods and packaging. One company that has been particularly successful at promoting sustainable growing while also minimising carbon footprint during the distribution process is Source Climate Change Coffee, a conservation led coffee company that buys coffee from Cloud Forest areas.
“In order to try and tackle climate change, we are supporting our farmers’ carbon offsetting projects, paying growers to establish conservation and reforestation projects and creating buffer zones around coffee plantations to conserve primary forest areas. We plant trees, preventing them being cleared by providing alternative sources of wood for the local population for fuel, timber and cooking,” explains founder Cristina Talens.
“The issue of sustainability must be addressed by the coffee community. We are in danger of losing not only the forest but also all of our crops,” urges Cristina.
Blue Goose Coffee is another telling example of a small business that is fully embracing environmental technology to provide customers with sustainable alternatives. “The statistics speak for themselves: 59 billion coffee capsules will be produced by the end of 2020. It’s a dormant environmental disaster waiting to happen,” states Lex Thornely, co-founder of Blue Goose Coffee, which produces plastic-free and compostable coffee capsules made of starch and wood. The company’s sustainable packaging is made of recyclable cardboard, printed using vegetable ink and secured using plastic-free glue.
“Home appliances such as Nespresso and Lavazza machines are a good way for consumers to get consistent good-quality coffee in the comfort of their homes. Capsules are a clean, quick and easy way to make a good cup of coffee. I see that trend very much continuing, as consumers and businesses seek to recreate barista-style coffee at home and in the workplace,” says Lex.
Hotels are also becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, with many looking at ways to decrease their environmental impact. These days, many hotel guests take in-room coffee machines for granted. “We are supplying hotels with our eco-friendly capsules. They’re clean and easy to use, and can be added to the hotel’s current food waste for processing,” Lex explains.
While capsule coffee is on the rise especially among millennials, instant coffee remains the preferred drink of 80% of UK households, in particular for those aged 65 and over. SINGL Coffee has created coffee filter bags that are an alternative to instant coffee; quick and practical to use, they’re made with high quality, responsibly sourced coffee. They’re environmentally friendly too, made from 100% plant sugars, making them fully compostable and biodegradable. They’re even delivered straight to customers’ doors in a clever carton designed to fit through the letterbox.
While sustainability is clearly a major trend at the moment, innovative flavours are too, with cafes experimenting with tastes and consistencies. JOLT, a coffee shop based in central London that opened earlier this year, offers rose, pistachio and salted caramel iced lattes, all made with condensed milk and high quality syrups and ingredients. They also offer Black Cubes Coffee, gently warmed milk poured over frozen cubes of coffee, served with a little fanfare by an expert team of baristas.
Coffee roasters, too, are taking the coffee experience to another level in a variety of ways. Award winning specialty coffee roaster Dark Woods Coffee ages beansin whisky barrels. The result is a faint aroma of whisky, with a smooth coffee featuring sweet hints of vanilla and a touch of complexity from the wood. Mighty Green Coffee, which aims to deliver ‘supernatural’ coffee, has launched a range of botanically enhanced coffee, with natural herbs, spices and hemp flowers sourced for their health properties and distinctive flavours. Another example is renowned digestif brand Jägermeister, which has launched a new ice-cold shot offering made with cold brew coffee. The liqueur is fused with cold-brewed Arabica coffee and a touch of cacao to create a new barista-style shot experience.
With more and more millennial coffee drinkers out there, coffee companies are thinking of inventive ways to appeal to an increasingly younger coffee-drinking audience that values quality and sustainable practices, providing high quality coffee that can be consumed in hipster cafes, on the go, and in the comfort of one’s home with the simple press of a button.
Photo credit: Blue Goose’s eco coffee capsule range is leading the way in eco friendly coffee pod alternatives for Newspresso® machines