Out of home coffee is one of the most exciting retail sectors and has enjoyed years of continued and explosive growth.
Where only a few years ago it was enough to open a shabby chic venue with a fair-trade bean to cup brew, now with arguably good coffee available everywhere, to succeed, retailers need innovative ideas, new typologies and new technology to meet the needs of their increasingly diverse and sophisticated audience.
Here we glimpse at a few very different ways that the coffee retail industry is evolving.
More than your standard brew
East London’s Climpson & Sons are doing something different with their latest incarnation in Old Spitalfields Market. Already known as coffee pioneers and roasters of fantastic pedigree beans, they have embraced two new coffee innovations and incorporated them into their stand up bar concept:
Nitro cold brew coffee is delivered on draught like a glass of Guinness. It’s slow cold steeping and infusion of nitrogen, accentuates the bean’s natural sweetness and introduces a smooth texture.
If that wasn’t beery enough, they have taken things to the next level with a selection of alcoholic coffee concoctions, serving their own coffee beer and of course espresso martini on tap.
Design wise the slick 360 degree bar kiosk is a long way from their original distressed hipster café of Broadway market.
The flavour connoisseur
There is an emerging appreciation of the diverse and nuanced flavours that the humble bean can deliver. The New Black Coffee, who doesn’t roast coffee but curate legendary artisan coffee roasters from around the globe, is one such retailer who embrace the idea that coffee is as complex as fine wine.
To illustrate this point, their Taylor Street store features a giant flavour wheel to help customers decode the taste experience. Their baristas are on hand to guide and suggest,
To further help customers navigate the flavour choices they have developed a mobile order app that provides infographic for the taste profile of each artisans’ roasts.
With a store design that is slick and super modern with gleaming glass and steel, you understand they are reflecting the lab like conditions that top baristas need to create these precision drinks.
For the love of good cheap coffee
At the other end of the spectrum easyCoffee sell fixed price coffee and food. With coffee starting at £1.50 for an Americano they aim to undercut big boys Starbucks & Costa. They currently have 10 sites and have ambitions to expand quickly. So what about the coffee? It is machine delivered bean to cup and seems to tick all the minimum requirements for good coffee as well as embracing topical concerns. They use fair-trade coffee beans ethically sourced and convert waste coffee grounds in to biofuel.
Their no nonsense orange branding means the store environment is not going to seduce customers to linger. Not surprisingly this business is aimed at grab and go customers who are looking for low cost decent coffee.
This they summarise with the statement “If you drink a lot of coffee, you save a lot of money at easyCoffee”.
For the love of speed
Speed and convenience have been the pursuit of the likes of McCafe. Being a brand long trusted for low cost food and drink and now having established a reputation for good tasting bean-to-machine coffee their next aim was to make the experience as simple as possible. Digital technology that streamlines the ordering process has been rolled out into all stores, reducing customer interaction and speeding up delivery. We’ve read blogs that suggest order time in McCafe is perhaps half that of restaurants like Starbucks.
Rather than being put off by the removal of human interaction, there is much research to show that customer stress actually lowers once they engage in an ordering technology, as it ensures their place in the queue and avoids worrying about being forgotten.
Not surprisingly this technology is developing quickly, with systems like Stratache, who showed at this years RDE in London, introduce a leader board with your place in the queue and provide interactive gaming to occupy the minutes before you pick up your order, which incidentally has a picture of your face on it rather than a misspelled name written in sharpie.