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Coffee culture

Coffee shops – whether branded or independent – are an integral part of the high street with recent research showing that 18% of people visit a coffee shop more than once a week. Today’s coffee shop visitor, however, has very different expectations from his counterpart of yesteryear. To benefit from the nation’s love of coffee, operators should offer great coffee, appropriate food and free WiFi – and that is just for starters coffee process; even garden centres already have in-store roasters so that their customers can watch coffee being roasted in store.

Allegra Strategies’ recent Allegra Project Café15 report revealed that, in 2014, the British coffee scene grew 10.7% in turnover to reach £7.2 billion. There are thought to be approximately 6,500 independent coffee shops in the UK. The report predicted that there will be 20,500 coffee shops in the UK by 2018 with a combined turnover of £8.7 billion.

“While the marketplace is dominated by branded coffee shops, we are moving to a coffee connoisseur nation,” maintains Jeffrey Young, MD, Allegra Strategies. “However, while the standard of coffee is improving, food is not good enough in coffee chains.”

Young was sharing the report’s findings at Allegra’s 7th Annual Coffee Leader Summit. Here, Ben Warner, Founder of Benugo, revealed that 20-25% of Benugo’s turnover is from coffee alone. He also discussed changing culture, as people now eat less bread, more wraps and salad, but the same amount of cake. “These changing attitudes need to be reflected in store design and organisation, to ensure that queuing is quick and simple,” stressed Warner.

Coffee beansDiscerning customers

Leicestershire-based coffee supplier Cherizena has noticed that many coffee drinkers are becoming far more discerning now when choosing their coffee. “People are keen to know what types of beans are used, the country of origin and how highly the beans have been roasted,” observes Kate Jones, Cherizena. “It’s well worth ensuring that serving staff and others know what type of blends or single origin coffees are on the menu.”

Jones, who has been running Cherizena for more than a decade, says that coffee drinkers tend to be shying away from bland blends, and instead opting to know more about their chosen beverage.

“Coffee drinkers in general these days are quite an informed bunch, who know their coffees and know what type of coffee they prefer,” she explains. “Therefore they tend to want to be informed about the coffee they are drinking. Just as consumers are keen to know the provenance of their sausages or their meat, coffee drinkers very often like to know the provenance of the beans that make up their cup. They want to know what’s in their coffee, so they might ask where the beans have been grown, and how they have been roasted, for example.

“My advice would be to offer a small choice of different coffees and ensure that serving staff are well informed about the coffee and can knowledgeably answer questions about it. It could make a big difference.”

Fresh made coffee in the cafeSpeciality coffee

“The term, ‘specialty coffee’ was originally coined by Erna Knutson back in 1974 when she used it to group coffees that were grown in geographical microclimates and possessed a unique flavour profile,” explains Lynsey Harley, Founder and Coffee Quality Director of recently launched Modern Standard Coffee.

“In recent years, the growth of specialty cafés has outstripped the growth of the specialty coffee market,” continues Harley, who is a qualified Q Grader, World Barista Championships Technical Judge, World Brewers Cup Sensory Judge and UK Barista Championships Head Judge. “The rise in specialty cafés has resulted in a focus on better beverage preparation, a need for more skills and ultimately a hunger for more knowledge.”

Looking ahead, Harley predicts the following:

beer image  The trend for smaller specialty chains, rather than the large-scale mass-market attempts will continue.
 beer image  Cost will always pay a part in the decision process. Specialty coffees cost more, but not everyone can or wants to spend more than £4.00 a cup.
 beer image  Cold brew will continue and there is likely to be a move into nitro cold brew (cold brew on tap), with a particular push towards the pub sector.
 beer image  Innovation: burger chain, Five Guys is launching a coffee milkshake, brewing a toddy cold brew each evening in store to produce a cold brew concentrate that is used in milkshakes the following day.
 beer image  In-store roasters – these will become more common. Customers are fascinated by the coffee process; even garden centres already have in-store roasters so that their customers can watch coffee being roasted in store.

FrappeFrappés for summer

In independent research commissioned by DaVinci Gourmet, consumers stated that being able to enjoy a caffeinated yet cold beverage was important to them in summer. “It’s therefore no surprise that frappé sales peak during this season, with 63% of consumers saying they would most likely purchase during this period, and 51% and 45% citing the ‘refreshing’ and ‘indulgent’ qualities of the drink, respectively,” comments Steph Goldie, brand manager.

“So far, large chain outlets, such as Starbucks, have led growth, introducing the category and reaping the benefits of increased footfall as a result – currently, 46% of frappé drinkers claim this outlet specifically is their favourite place to purchase.

“Independents are catching up with the trend, and 14% of frappé drinkers would now claim them as their preferred place. Consumers are always looking to try something new; in fact, our research shows that 28% purchased a frappé for this reason. By introducing limitedtime summer specials, operators can meet this demand and make the most of consumers’ buoyant summer moods.”

Signature drinks

Increasingly, operators are looking to syrups and sauces to create a point of difference in their drinks offering. “Using flavoured syrups, it is easy to develop a stylish selection that’s simple to prepare and does not take up too much staff time,” says James Coston, Monin’s UK brand ambassador. “It is important to promote the drink as a whole rather than as a standard product with add-on; a named, specifically designed drink carries more value in the perception of the customer.

“Seasonal or monthly specials are always popular, too, and recipes themed around local festivals, anniversaries – or even your favourite films or books – are a great conversation starter at the till. Make sure your specials are advertised effectively both inside and outside your trading area, and if possible use A-boards to draw in passing trade.

“Caterers trying flavoured syrups for the first time might prefer to choose classic flavours such as Monin Caramel, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Gingerbread and Chocolate Cookie syrups. However, there are scores more to choose from – Monin Salted Caramel, Praline, Chocolate Mint and Amaretto syrups are all as popular as they are versatile.”

Tiramisu Café


  • 25ml Monin Amaretto syrup
  • 1 double espresso
  • 150ml milk Whipped cream


  •  Pour the espresso in a tall glass.
  • Sprinkle with cocoa.
  • Steam Monin Amaretto syrup and milk together until mix foams.
  • Pour mix over coffee, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Hazelnut Latte


  • 15ml Monin Hazelnut syrup
  • 10ml Monin Caramel sauce
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 double espresso


  • Pour Monin Caramel sauce in a tumbler glass.
  • Steam milk and Monin syrup until mix foams.
  • Pour mix over Monin Caramel sauce.
  • Top with espresso to create a layered look.

For more recipe ideas, visit monin.

Monin syrup and coffeeFor all things coffee and café it is well worth visiting Caffè Culture at London Olympia.

“The Caffè Culture Show offers everything you could possibly need under one roof, from practical advice and fresh ideas to the latest products, supplies, and food and drink trends,” says Event Director Cheryl Carroll.

Here are just some of the show’s wide variety of events and offerings:

  • The Business Theatre where coffee aficionados, industry advisers and successful independent café owners will be sharing their knowledge. For full details of the Business Theatre programme visit the caffe culture show seminars page.
  • The Taste Experience Stage where acclaimed chefs, bakers and coffee gurus will be demonstrating delicious ways to boost café profits and help your business stand out from the crowd. For full details of the Taste Experience Stage programme visit the caffe culture show demo page.
  • Over 220 wholesalers, equipment manufacturers, technology companies and suppliers of premium products, from well-known brands to artisan producers
  • ‘New for 2015’ Independent Coffee Roasters’ Village celebrating local artisan roasting expertise
  • Artisan Food Market with independent companies from across the UK offering their wares
  • Networking Café.

“The Caffè Culture Show is a celebration of innovation, education, artistry and ethics for everyone in the UK café and coffee community,” says Carroll. “There is simply no better place to get fresh ideas, meet the best producers, manufacturers and suppliers in the country, get practical advice from leading industry experts, and be inspired by world-class barista talent.”

To register for free advance tickets for the Caffè Culture Show, visit caffecultureshow.

Coffee training

More than ever, today’s customers expect great tasting drinks, made well. These things don’t just happen of their own accord. Andrew Jack, Head of Marketing at Matthew Algie explains why training is just as important as the beans

There are many different drivers of quality. When it comes to coffee, the following are essential to ensure the perfect end result:

  • the right beans
  • a well-trained barista
  • a good machine.

By investing in these elements, outlets can tap into the demand for high-quality espresso-based drinks.

Knowledge boosts sales

Coffee sales are an important contributor to turnover and operators can differentiate themselves through knowledgeable staff. Ensuring that staff understand sourcing, production, taste and brewing is extremely important as it allows them to engage with customers. Well-trained, knowledgeable staff are also generally more passionate about the coffee they serve and are keen to impart their knowledge to customers, which helps boost sales.


Every Matthew Algie customer is assigned their own Coffee Sales Manager – who is trained to the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe barista standards – to provide regular on-site training and advice. We also have Coffee Schools in London, Glasgow and Dublin operating a comprehensive range of specialist coffee courses. We advise that, whoever your supplier, they should be offering a similar service to ensure great drinks are created.

Earlier this year we launched a new Espresso Class to help baristas understand what excellent espresso should taste like while exploring the influence that origin, coffee profiles, processing and roasts can have as well as giving insight into espresso composition, brewing factors and other variables. This half-day course complements our existing training portfolio that includes the Milk Class, Brew Class, Coffee School and Coffee Trainer courses.

Training will improve operational efficiency, impacting positively on speed of service and margins. With training comes better quality coffee, which will drive loyalty and repeat purchase.

For more information, please visit the Matthew Algie training page.

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