After a brief period of sweltering weather and unprecedented UK temperatures, August has started rather cooler. But while summer may have cooled, sales of iced coffee over the last year show that its popularity is increasing. World Coffee Portal’s Project Iced UK 2019 report reveals that the number of iced beverages sold in the UK rose by more than 14% in 2018, to a value of £395 million. That’s almost 6% of the coffee shop sector’s revenue for the year. The report goes on to predict sales of £449 million this year.
As you’d expect, the majority of those sales happen during the summer months. Those sales are split between cold brew coffee and iced coffee – and the equipment for both is affordable, even for small coffee shops with low turnover. The big difference is in the preparation time: cold brew coffee needs to be left to steep for around 20 hours, whereas making iced coffee is an immediate, on-demand process, which may be more realistic if you can’t predict your cold drink sales.
If your coffee shop isn’t already selling some form of iced coffee, there’s still time before sales typically peter out towards the end of September. Since some 45% of under-30s drink iced drinks, if you have a younger demographic it’s worth tapping into in these competitive times. Those younger coffee drinkers are also likelier than any other age range to drink cold brew or iced coffee during the winter months too.
And whichever route you go down – cold brew or iced coffee – it’s clearly worth getting up to speed before next spring. Recent research from insolvency firm Begbies Traynor showed that there are almost 500,000 UK businesses experiencing ‘significant financial distress’, and leisure and cultural activities experiencing a 4% rise in the year to summer 2019. Consumers are becoming more hesitant in their spending. That could lead to a bigger battle on the high streets for customer spend and the coffee shops offering the best blend of value, experience and variety will surely be the ones to fare best.
Offering iced coffee, therefore, might just be an extra draw to attract and retain customers – your lifeblood. Your simplest method is to fill a glass a third-full with ice, add full-cream milk until you have around 2cm space between the drink and the brim of the glass, and then pour a double espresso directly on top. The cold temperature makes the coffee taste a little less sweet than it might hot, and granulated sugar won’t dissolve, so consider offering customers the option of a sweetening syrup – neutral or flavoured.
Frankly, even the little details might matter in standing apart from the rest. Our eyes were drawn to the recent news that M&S café customers are no longer getting a biscuit with their coffee by default (they’re still free – you just have to ask for it now, which we think is only sensible and less wasteful). True to form, Twitter users expressed their outrage. You could go one better in your coffee shop, if you don’t already. Offer your customers a choice of biscuits. Make the offer rather than waiting to be asked, and have a reasonable but not excessive selection available. It’s a little detail that people will love, which will cost you very little, and by offering a choice, you give customers control. All that adds up to a feel-good moment which visitors to your coffee shop will remember and return for.