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With UK consumers averaging two cups of coffee per day, the industry is certainly a hot topic. In fact, the UK coffee shop market is worth £15 billion a year, and the overall market is expected to grow annually by 6.92% between 2023-2025 according to Statistica. This means that whether you’ve got an in-store café or simply sell coffee by the bag, it’s important to get your offering right.
Consumers are looking for something that provides more than just a caffeine hit in 2023, so we explore how you can make sure you’re hitting the trends and catering to demand.
Innovation and diversity
While some Brits are satisfied with a classic brew, innovation is ripe in the coffee industry, and many consumers are looking to diversify their caffeine hits.
“There has been a continued push to deliver innovation and provide consumers with a wider coffee experience, whether that be in terms of coffee from new and different producers; ready-to-drink products; cold brew and single-serve units – capsules or other forms”, Paul Rooke, executive director at the British Coffee Association, tells Speciality Food.
“Behind the scenes, the industry is also working more closely together, across producing and consuming countries to maintain the geographical diversity that encapsulates the coffee scene today.”
This is felt by many coffee producers, as Lex Thornely, co-founder of Blue Goose, explains. “Despite being a mature market, innovation and changing tastes and interest levels have really seen the coffee sector grow. Like wine, people increasingly want to know more about the flavours and processes that make their chosen coffee unique and the people who grow it too.
“From different coffee varietals and changing processing methods to new brewing gadgets and machines, Brits are becoming coffee boffs and embracing the speciality coffee scene. Speciality coffee and everything it stands for is getting coffee-loving Brits excited.”
In fact, globalization has shaped the coffee industry through the rise of speciality coffee. According to Athena Lee, marketing manager at ShelfNow, “Speciality coffee refers to high-quality coffee beans that are carefully sourced, roasted, and brewed to highlight their unique flavours and characteristics. As coffee culture has spread around the world, different regions have developed their own unique coffee traditions and preferences.
“This has led to an increased demand for single-origin beans, which emphasize the coffee’s unique terroir and flavour profile. Coffee shops and roasters are now offering a wider range of speciality coffees from different regions, catering to consumers who are interested in exploring the diverse flavours of coffee.”
This is something that independent retailers are becoming all too familiar with. As Mark Kacary, managing director at Norfolk Deli, explains, “Customers know where the beans come from, the name of the grower, the location, the altitude of where the beans were grown, and the methods used.
“It is more about the roast than the beans themselves. We like to show the tasting notes on our bags of coffee and give coffee the same level of respect given to wines and cheeses when it comes to taste. We now have customers who buy a different bag of coffee every time they come in. They have developed a love for coffee which far exceeds the caffeine hit, but which like a good bottle of red wine, offers complexities which they never realised existed when they ditched their cup of instant and joined the world of coffee enthusiasts.
“This caters to the developing palates of consumers who will come to an independent looking for something different, and something to excite their palate.”
A healthy option?
Wellness is also becoming an increasingly important consideration for consumers when making purchasing decisions. As a result, coffee companies may begin to offer added health benefits, such as antioxidants or probiotics, to appeal to this market.
One brand championing the power of wellness in the coffee industry is London Nootropics. Made with the highest-quality medicinal mushroom extracts and other adaptogens, each blend in the range is designed for a specific purpose: Flow for mental clarity and focus, Zen to alleviate stress and anxiety, and Mojo for a natural boost.
Speaking to Speciality Food, co-founder Zain Peer explains, “As part of the wellness industry we’ve seen functional mushrooms and other adaptogen extracts becoming increasingly popular mainstream, we see this having an impact across the food and beverage market, including with coffee. We love blending adaptogens with coffee as they have good synergies together.
“We have a wide variety of customers, from health-focused biohackers to students to entrepreneurs to those sensitive to coffee or going through menopause. Our adaptogenic coffees are different in the sense they add another dimension – each blend is designed to help you have your most productive today depending on what you need.”
It’s not just retail that is seeing an increase in demand for healthy coffee alternatives. According to Athena, consumers are demanding healthy choices in cafés too. “We are seeing more coffee shops and brands offering healthy alternative options like matcha or turmeric lattes, or plant-based coffee alternatives like oat milk or almond milk.”
In fact, while Laura Roberts, owner of Laura’s Larder sticks to traditional coffee in her store, she has seen increased interest in plant-based alternatives too. “I would say oat milk is as popular as cow’s milk these days so making sure you use brands that people enjoy is key,” she adds.