The pandemic changed many elements of our lives, how we work, our family life and how we socialise. Many of these areas have returned to normal, some less so. The migratory patterns of our lives have a significant influence on the coffee industry. More time spent at home or working from home shifts the coffee drinking experience. While more people have returned to work, the habit of making coffee at home will continue for many consumers. The key reasons for this being, rising costs and concerns about personal finances.
The news is still good, however, for both the retail and foodservice coffee industries since coffee consumption is on the rise. Though coffee shops still require higher frequency of visits, sometimes 20 times a month, compared to a hair salon which could be once every 6 weeks.
The successful coffee shops convince customers that their business is worth visiting. Rather than relying on the convenience of their location, business owners will now have to give customers compelling reasons to come to their cafe.
Training staff so customers are reassured food handling and purchasing will be safe is one step. These customers still suffer from a post covid hangover in many ways. Though this particular training seems important regardless.
Independent coffee shops need to offer an exceptional product and a safe experience to encourage customers to come back. Well brewed coffee by trained staff should be a good enough incentive, but many consumers have settled for making coffee at home. The key word is “settled”, as it is almost impossible to create artisan third wave quality coffee shop espresso drinks like lattes, espressos, mochas and cappuccinos from home without investing significantly in equipment, not to mention being trained to use that equipment.
Educating the public in what to expect in a coffee shop is another step in the process. Average service and coffee quality can and is sold as ‘artisan’. This lowers the overall standard and public opinion regarding the industry. Helping the customer differentiate between coffee quality protects those who invest in service and product. In a post pandemic world, everything has to become a destination. If you are serving the same quality as a chain coffee shop, most consumers will choose to spend their money at the chain for convenience or brand security. Progressive third wave coffee shop owners should be looking to up their coffee game. They will need to increase the quality of their drinks and focus on staff training to maintain a high quality standard.
Leveraging the ‘home brew’ market is another service where the independent coffee shop can sustain its relationship with the customer. During the pandemic, several independent coffee shops saw an increase in bagged coffee sales, whole bean and ground for consumers to grind and brew at home.
While some people are able to afford espresso machines and grinders to replicate coffee shop quality, these types of consumers are the minority. Most are shifting away from espresso based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos and are making brewed or drip coffee at home. While this is limiting the number of times a customer may visit a coffee shop and can cause a decline in revenue, the whole bean and ground coffee sales are still important to ensure consumers are interacting with your brand.
Online sales, delivery and takeout options will also be essential for customers who may be uneasy coming into a coffee shop. While these avenues of securing a transaction may be new for some coffee shop owners, it’s important to keep your offerings versatile to suit varying comfort levels.
Check list for success
Improve your quality, in product and service.
Increase your online presence and allow customers to buy coffee beans online.
Create a pick-up window for online purchases or provide a delivery service using staff.
Offer baked goods.
Consider selling more coffee brewing equipment.
Train your staff and create an internal standard of performance and quality.
Implement safety measures.