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Coffee matters

In the UK we drink approximately 70 million cups of coffee every day. Recent research from Mintel reveals that one-in-five coffee drinkers are drinking instant coffee only once a day, and for people in their 20s this figure is even less. In addition, research from Allegra (on behalf of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland) tells us that two thirds of consumers judge the quality of a restaurant, pub or hotel based on the quality of its coffee. Operators who fail to offer a decent coffee have only themselves to blame when people choose to take their custom elsewhere

Estimated at 20,728 outlets, the total UK coffee shop market in 2015 showed significant sales growth of 10% on 2014 and a total turnover of £7.9 billion, according to the latest report from Allegra World Coffee Portal: Project Café2016 UK. The indisputable fact is that we are now a nation of coffee lovers who now see an out-of-home coffee as a daily requirement rather than a luxury.

“Coffee quality is now expected and is being constantly improved upon across the sector due to the influence from both artisan chains and independents,” comments Jeffrey Young, MD of the Allegra Group. “The UK coffee shop market is dynamic and growing rapidly. In addition, coffee shops are playing an increasingly important role in the UK, enhancing the social vibrancy of a community as well as being a large contributor to employment and the economy.”

Quality expected

“With coffee on the high street going from strength to strength, it’s time for eating out operators to take their coffee seriously,” urges Phil Smith, head of category and insight, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland.

UCC’s recent research found that 77% of diners say a good coffee makes the difference between a mediocre and an exceptional dining experience. “Consumers are looking for specific attributes when choosing whether to purchase a coffee with a meal,” continues Phil. “Quality is the most important factor, but this is closely followed by consistency and choice. Operators need to get the basics right and deliver a coffee experience that consumers will remember and can rely on every time they visit.”

The research also revealed that – excluding coffee shops – consumers rate coffee quality highest at fine dining restaurants, followed closely by independent restaurants, then branded restaurants and hotels. Pubs are rated as offering the lowest quality coffee.

Couple enjoying their coffeePod alternative

Of course, it is neither feasible nor relevant for every establishment to have a proper espresso machine, which requires not only a trained barista to produce the coffee but also time and effort spent cleaning it to ensure a great cup of coffee is served. “The solution is to go down the route of pod machines that are designed for the catering trade,” suggests Steve Stagg, Keurig UK.

“These are ideal for producing a perfect cup of freshly brewed coffee every time with no hassle, effort, expertise or training. The established players in this market, such as Keurig, provide machines that can accommodate different cup sizes at the press of a button, can be plumbed in or free standing with large water reservoirs, and offer a wide range of different coffee blends, as well as teas, infusions and hot chocolate.

“Obviously the downside to these new pod machines is the lack of the steam shot for the milk. However, that is easily sorted with a stand-alone milk frother. These frothers make wonderful foam for your cappucino, or just heat the milk for a flat white. Simple.”

Serve suggestions

People love their coffee at all times of the year, so as the weather heats up, it makes sense to include a chilled coffee on your drinks menu.

“Use a cooled then chilled espresso to make a coffee-flavoured mocktail,” suggests Keurig’s Steve Stagg. “Or what about the latest craze from America’s east coast? Coffee Soda – espresso topped up in a long glass with ice and chilled soda or sparkling water. Be even more creative and add a slice of orange, or some cinnamon, sugar or syrup added to individual taste.

“For a real caffeine hit, offer an iced Cola Coffee comprising Coke or Pepsi + Expresso + Ice. Make sure the cola goes in first and the coffee last (for the best effect). Once you’ve had one, you can come up with your establishment’s own name for it. Individualise your offering and your customers will be delighted and come back for more.”

Personalisation potential

“As UK consumers become savvier and more particular about their coffee, they come to expect a certain level of quality, choice and presentation when ordering their favourite beverage,” observes Lee Hyde, Monin Beverage Innovation Manager. “The rest of the hospitality trade must keep up with coffee shops if they want to attract and retain this business.”

Lee is quick to point out that providing a good coffee menu does not need to be complicated or costly. He suggests: “Offering an opportunity for personalisation to your customer – whether it’s a shot of their favourite syrup, some whipped cream or sprinkles – is a great way to provide that little touch of luxury, as well as an opportunity to increase your margin. In our experience, the most popular syrup flavours for coffee are Hazelnut, Cinnamon, Caramel, Gingerbread and Vanilla.

“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.”

Coffee with a leaf structureLooking ahead

Allegra predicts the total UK coffee shop market will comfortably exceed 30,000 outlets and £15 billion turnover by 2025, driven by branded coffee chain expansion and non-specialist operator growth.

“The future coffee shop marketplace will be shaped by further increasing consumer participation and the desire for premium quality coffee anywhere at any time,” comments Allegra’s Jeffrey Young. “This will drive improved coffee offers across a broader set of channels.

“The strong market growth of the past 12 months has exceeded our own estimates. This provides further evidence of the growing importance of coffee shops to the British economy and more importantly their impact on the daily lives of everyday consumers. With a market now valued at £7.9 billion, no-one can ignore the fact that coffee is big business.”

Caffe CultureCaffè Culture Show

10 & 11 May, Olympia, London

This year’s Caffè Culture Show – the 11th annual event for the café and coffee industry – will be showcasing the very latest food and drink trends alongside award-winning artisan roasters, baristas, food and drink producers, and world-leading suppliers and manufacturers.

Alongside hundreds of companies from across the supply chain that will be sharing the very latest innovations, trends and insights in coffee, food, drink and equipment, the show will also offer:

  • A programme of seminars and workshops in the show’s Business Theatres with free business advice suitable for everyone – from those just starting out, to established operators who are looking to expand
  • Independent Coffee Roasters’ Village championing some of the finest homegrown roasting talent
  • Artisan Food Market
  • Barista Masterclasses

In addition, ‘State of the Nation’ will be looking at the findings of this year’s Caffè Culture Show Cafeconomy research, exploring the state of the market and consumer views of the coffee shop experience. Last year’s research saw nine in ten (92%) independent operators feeling confident and optimistic for the coming year with 80% expecting turnover growth. 93% were planning investment in their business in the year to come, with nearly six in ten (59.2%) reporting improved business performance in 2014 over 2013.

To register for a free ticket, visit

Expresso machineMaintaining your coffee equipment

Peter Atmore, head of sales and marketing at Fracino, advises how best to look after your coffee equipment to ensure every coffee you serve comes up to scratch

Coffee is by nature a very oily substance. Over time, coffee oils accumulate inside your machine to form a rancid residue. This residue is responsible for the acrid smell you may recognise coming from a poorly maintained machine. Not only does this result in bitter-tasting coffee (and customers who are unlikely to return when there is so much competition serving great coffee), if allowed to develop, residue inside your machine will eventually clog its filters and tubes and cause it to malfuncfion.

By following the procedures outlined below, your machine will be in the best possible condition to generate delicious coffees for your customers.

BaristaDaily checks

Backflush groups

Flush each group daily to remove any loose coffee grounds that have built up between the screen and brewing head during the day’s use. Choose a handle, remove the filter with a teaspoon and insert the blank filter into the handle. Using the continuous pour button, let hot water circulate in the brewing head for 8-10 seconds. Push the continuous pour again to stop the pump; repeat this process up to five times. Remove the handle and check if the water is running clear. If not, repeat the procedure. Soak the handles overnight in warm water. If the build-up remains, clean them more regularly.

Cleaning steam tubes

Fill a small jug half full with very hot water, add a measure of milk system cleaner, submerge the tip of the steam tube into the hot water and turn on the steam valve slightly to achieve a slow rolling motion. Let this slowly bubble away for a few seconds then stop the steam valve, remove the jug and use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe any milk residue. Repeat with fresh water, ensuring the cleaner has fully rinsed away.

CoffeeCleaning grinders

To ensure fantastic fresh coffee, close the black coloured slide on the bean hopper 1-2 hours before closing time and grind away any remaining beans. On
closing, proceed with the following cleaning steps:

  • Remove the bean hopper and remove any remaining beans
  • Remove any remaining ground coffee to a small airtight container
  • Using your grinder brush, sweep away any remaining beans in the bean chute and any remaining ground coffee in the dosing chamber
  • Place the bean hopper under the steam wand and give a short blast of hot water and steam. Use paper towels to wipe away any water and oil; do not use liquid soap or abrasive pads
  • Wipe and clean all external surfaces with a damp cloth.

Weekly checks

At least once a week, carry out the following at the end of the day:

  • Backflush with either a cleaning liquid or powder. Use the same process as the daily cleaning method, adding the cleaning liquid/powder into the blank instead of just using water. Repeat with water only to remove all remaining grounds and cleaner solution
  • Place the filter baskets and handles in a warm solution of water and group cleaner liquid/powder and soak overnight, taking care not to immerse the handle in the solution
  • Remove the two-part metal drip tray, milk-foaming jugs and other barista accessories to the sink and wash them
  • Be aware of blocked drains. Pour two or three small milk-foaming jugs of very hot water down the round, black drain box to ensure any loose grounds will be forced down to the mains and flushed away
  • Wipe down all stainless steel surfaces on the espresso machine with a cloth, paying particular attention to the areas around the brewing heads and the steam tubes.
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