New opportunities as coffee meets beer in beer cafes

Consumer preference and how that affects where they choose to enjoy a beer is changing. It means traditional pubs and bars need to look at how they compete with an emerging sector – coffee shops and beer cafes.

Beer cafesNew research from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has highlighted a consumer demand for independent craft brewed beers to be sold in coffee shops and beer cafes. The research, carried out by independent research company M&C Allegra, shows a fifth of people in the UK would visit coffee shops more often if they sold British craft beers. Something the UK’s biggest coffee companies are now clearly in a position to capitalise on, having continued to extend the number of branches selling alcohol in recent years.

Coffee Shops overall have seen meteoric growth over the last decade, reaching 20,728 in 2015 and predicted to hit 30,000 by 2025, driven by a huge increase in the number of branded coffee chains* such as market leaders Costa (1992), Starbucks (849) and Caffè Nero (620), of which there were a total of just 1,600 in 2005.

Many of the UK’s large coffee chains, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Harris + Hoole – who are owned by Tescos – have already begun to look to increase the number of outlets with alcohol licenses and the idea of Coffee Shops as all day venues is something they are taking extremely seriously. The UK’s craft brewing industry has never been stronger or more exciting and there is a clear fit between coffee shops and craft-brewed beer – particularly craft canned and bottled beers, which are small, light and easy to store, but offer amazing flavour and quality.” Mike Benner, SIBA managing director.

As well the large coffee chains looking to cash in on the growing trend for serving alcohol there are a new wave of small, independent, Beer Cafes cropping up across the UK which fuse the laid back look of continental coffee shops with British and international craft beer.

Beer from craft breweries lends itself to being drunk in a variety of outlets and increasingly we are seeing crossover businesses fusing British independent craft beer with a coffee shop style. These outlets are popular with a wide and diverse demographic and offer beers which present a true range of flavours meaning there really is something for everybody to enjoy – from punchy, intense and bitter to smooth, roasted and full-bodied – the flavours associated with great beer could just as easily be describing coffee. In fact the artisan, hand-crafted nature of fantastic coffee has many parallels with the world of independent beer – not least the increasingly young, discerning drinkers that choose it.” Mike Benner added.

Modeled on the ‘bier cafe’ culture of places like Belgium this new style of outlet is making an impact in the UK with beer often being served in smaller stemmed glasses than the traditional pint glass associated with beer in the past. In fact when people are trying new beers 34% of people opt for a half pint glass, whereas just 26% opt for a pint glass, according to research conducted by YouGov last year. This ties in with research released by SIBA earlier this year which shows 9 out of 10 consumers are interested in learning about different types of beer – a clear sign consumers are moving away from mass produced lagers towards craft-brewed beer, where a much larger range of styles and flavours are available.

Excellence and quality over quantity is clearly the direction the industry is headed and it is great to see more breweries and bars considering how their beers should be best served, with many pubs, bars and restaurants choosing specific glassware which showcases a particular beer at its best – the Belgians have known for years that a glass can have a huge affect on the aroma and flavour of a beer, something the UK is just catching up with!” Mike concluded.

We think all pub and bar owners should be asking themselves some questions. Can your coffee compete with the dedicated coffee shops? Does your beer offer cater for customers that like to experiment? How much thought goes into your glassware choices? We can’t see your customers all heading off to Starbucks overnight, but it is clear the market is evolving and it presents new and exciting opportunities for today’s licensee.


Author: The Host

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