WHAT'S HOT THIS SEASON
TOP 5 CAFE TRENDS TO TAKE SERIOUSLY
Cafe operators know that market research tours are essential in spotting trends and maintaining a competitive edge. Yet it can be difficult carving out the time each season to do these market deep dives.
But don’t worry, that's where we come in. Our team is on the ground, every day, sharing insights. We're also devouring all the latest social media content to establish the most prevalent trends.
To kick start the new year, our team has condensed their findings into a very digestible list of recommendations.
Perhaps you are already ahead of the game. Still, it never hurts to review how you stack up.
Here are our Top Five Trends for this season:
1. WELLNESS REVOLUTION POWERS ON
Ok. No big surprise here, but worth re-enforcing. Health is on our minds for obvious reasons. Even the most mainstream cafes are offering low-calorie drinks and wellness-led refreshments: from Kombucha and Kefir to ginger shots and turmeric lattes.
Immune enhancing properties are increasingly being called out on menus and point of sale. Gut-health and fermentation are ever more prevalent. And for a sweet hit without the calories, sugar-free syrups, real fruit and real fruit concentrates are welcome options.
Top-Trending Wellness-based Drinks Ingredients
- Immunity shots (flavourless additions to any drink)
- Japanese Matcha (ceremonial grade is best)
- Superfood powders (including beetroot and turmeric)
- Gut-friendly fermented snacks and drinks (such as kombucha and kimchi)
- Sugar-free syrups
- Real fruit and real fruit concentrates
2. GROWTH IN PLANT-BASED MYLK CONTINUES
Mintel states that 32% of those polled in 2021 drank plant-based mylk, which was up from 25% in 2020. The uptake is even higher among 25- to 44-year-olds at 44%. Look to the States and the figure for the general population is 60%. An indicator of what's yet to come in the UK & Ireland perhaps!
With climate change at the forefront of many minds, consumer buying behaviors are shifting. Dairy-free alternatives are no longer the preserve of those exclusively following plant-based diets. As the government and many other organisations encourage meat and dairy-free days, plant-based food choices are a part of everyday life for many.
It's not only the ethical backdrop and green credentials that matter either. Plant-based mylks offer further opportunities to customise drinks to personal preferences. Consumers love making coffee their own, whether that’s adding an extra shot, our choice of syrup - or changing it up with different plant-based mylks.
The top four flavours to offer in cafes remain Oat, Soya, Almond and Coconut.
3. COVID LEGACY: A NEW STANDARD IN HYGIENE IS HERE TO STAY
What consumers value most (Allegra)
- continued use of masks
- hand sanitising stations
- spacious layouts & clear rules on distancing
- rigourous cleaning regimes
With COVID ever-present, new strains continuing to emerge and predictions of other future global pandemics rife, it is likely we are entering a new era in hospitality hygiene standards. Whilst the rigour associated with COVID-19 may fall back slightly, we shouldn't expect a full return to any pre-COVID 'normal'.
Masks and hand sanitisation are now more widely accepted as a good method of reducing the spread of colds and flus in general. Following the lifting of mandatory usage, it is predicted that societal behaviours will change and that many people will continue to adopt these practices to some extent - whether in self-protection or as a courtesy to others.
Prior to COVID-19 for example, it would have seemed ridiculous in the UK & Ireland to don a mask just because you had a cold or cough. Going forward it will likely be the polite and socially accepted norm to wear one in such circumstances. Dare to sneeze or sniffle un-masked in public, and cue judgemental glances from several directions! Especially if you are the barista! Regardless of legislation, cafe operators would be wise to establish new standards for employees. And best not to remove the sanitising stations just yet either!
4. THE SERVING HATCH: EFFICIENCY BUILT-IN
When COVID struck, any cafe with a serving hatch was ahead of the game. The prolonged nature of the pandemic encouraged many more to build them in. Savvy operators were prepared for any eventuality.
Now it seems like a no-brainer, especially where space is precious. Keep your seated service area uncrowded and less drafty from the ever-opening door. Manage your take-away queue separately from an efficient and dedicated station.
It always works particularly well on corner units, if you are lucky enough to have one!
Some hatches we love
- Bramble Cafe, Shawlands, Glasgow
- Dandelion cafe, Newlands, Glasgow
- The Botanist Coffee Co, Brighton
5. THE SCALING BACK OF DELIVERY SERVICES (& FEEL GOOD FACTOR OF COLLECTION IN PERSON)
Many of us developed a taste for delivery over the last two years. Hot coffee and treats straight to your door whilst avoiding people, the rain, the difficulty parking, or the long walk. But this trend is waning and rightly so!
Delivery can be incredibly wasteful. A single coffee can use up a cup holder, single-use cup, plastic lid, napkin and a double bag. No option for re-usable here. And if there isn't a bike delivery service in your area, there's the added carbon footprint of the delivery vehicle.
Coffee and treats being delivered to your home also goes against all the advice we hear on maintaining active lifestyles. Shouldn't that reward come after a little effort perhaps? Either way, as we emerge from COVID, we seek more interaction and experiential trips away from home.
An independent cafe may still worry about how to against the major retailers who offer delivery? A radio presenter recently despaired at their teenage daughter acting like she had a Starbucks on room service.
But the answer can be found in any of the best independent cafes in any neighbourhood. If you have a welcoming cafe setting, serve better food and drink, and create a great reputation, the customers will come to you. People willingly go in search of great experiences - and they'll wait patiently for it too. Eager to be part of something enjoyable and memorable in their community. (Many will proudly carry their reusable cups too, with discounted coffee their well-earned reward.)
There is nothing we love more than seeing the queues outside our favourite independent cafes. They exist in every neighbourhood. If you build it, they will come!
Big Bear Bakery in Glasgow's Southside is renowned for its lengthy queues. After all who could resist these bakes?
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