As a commercial coffee machine supplier to coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, and a supplier of bean-to-cup coffee machines for businesses in every sector, we know what our customers’ priorities are: a reliable, efficient coffee maker, reasonably priced, that helps them deliver great-quality coffee and gain a return on their investment. Invariably, they also want dependable, responsive customer service. But advantages of leasing a commercial coffee machine come up time and again, and with the state of the UK economy right now, our clients definitely want a little cost certainty. According to Allegra's recent study - Project Cafe UK 2020 - despite turbulent markets and increased caution, coffee trade at existing locations remained positive. With 40% of leaders surveyed reporting a +5% trading uplift in 2019, up 9% on 2018's figures.
The increasing cost of property, reduced labour demand and the curtailing impact of Brexit were cited as the three main challenges facing coffee shops in 2019. Despite this, many are optimistic of future growth potential. 56% of those surveyed believing there remains a wealth of growth potential for branded cafe chains in the UK. These challenges are also inclining many branded coffee chains to increase quality of product, diversify menus to satisfy a wider variety of customer needs and prioritize customer retention over outlet expansion. For this reason, Allegra forecasts that the UK coffee shop landscape will undergo major transformation in 2020, with the experimentation of new formats, such as drive-thru's.
The average price of a cup of the nation’s favourite coffee - a latte - is £2.76. Cappuccino and Americano are the second and third most frequently ordered. That price matters if customers continue watching the pennies and the economy continues to stagnate. And of course, the big chains are those best able to absorb increased costs and reduced customer footfall and spending.
Yet Allegra’s report does say that it’s the quality of the coffee that matters most, that contributes most to a coffee shop’s success rates. And 45% of the coffee industry leaders Allegra spoke with said that social media is the most effective form of marketing. We’ve said it time and again in this coffee blog: social media marketing for coffee shops is a must. And independent coffee shops, snack bars and the like are far better placed to offer authentic and truly personal and individual social engagement and appreciation.
Sustainability and plant-based menus have gained significant ground and awareness in 2019, with industry leaders citing it as the single most important consumer trend affecting the UK coffee shop market today. This includes awareness over plastic packaging, recycling best practice and greater business transparency.
Many of the major UK coffee chains are introducing a wide variety of vegan menu items. Of those surveyed, 1/5 UK consumers frequently ask for a dairy-alternative milk with their coffee. Both Costa Coffee and Gregg's have recently expanded their vegan food menus in 2020, as part of a 'veganuary' campaign. - both with great success. Pret A Manger has taken their investment slightly further, introducing a number of 'Veggie Pret' stores across the UK.
There are now 25,900 coffee shops in the UK. To make sure you’re still one of them in a year or more’s time, we’ve got five simple pieces of advice:
- Lease a coffee machine from a reputable, reliable supplier
- Provide ethically sourced, high-grade coffee and serve it with skill and personality
- Make sure your coffee shop has a distinct identity, with well-thought-out space and complementary offerings and services
- Embrace social media and embed yourself in the local community consciousness.
- Ensure you're catering for the needs of vegans, with plant-based milk alternatives, such as soya and coconut milk.
Read more: 5 top tips for a successful coffee shop