Evolution of the Coffee Industry
Nevertheless, coffee shops did not gain mass popularity until the opening of Starbucks in 1998. In the ‘second wave’ of the coffee revolution, global coffee chains brought an appreciation of coffee to London. Although tea is still the drink of choice for the UK, coffee has become the most popular drink in London.
It was the opening of Flat White in Soho in 2005, which brought about the ‘third wave’ in the coffee revolution. Customers no longer went to coffee shops to request “a coffee”; this was replaced by requests for the Americano, Long Black, Flat White, Ristretto, Piccolo and more. Customers have started recognising particular blends and developed preferences for coffee from particular regions or specific types of roasts. The standard of coffee has risen and the contest between quality and efficiency has now led to a desire for both.
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How do Independents fit into the Coffee Revolution?
“Starbucks are very valuable to us. They’re the great recruiters. They bring people into coffee drinking. And from there they go on to independents.”
James Hoffmann, CEO of Square Mile Coffee Roasters and World Barista Champion
For independent coffee shops, it’s all about alternative customer experience. Customers can come in and I’ll recognise them and know what they want to order before they even say a word. Independents also serve speciality coffee, we can trace back to our sources and know about the forms, roaster and the entire process
What do you think is more important- quality or efficiency?
For customers, there is no compromise. We need to find a balance and provide a good product as quickly as possible. There are multiple things that coffee shops should have- efficient payment systems, free Wi-Fi, quick service but that doesn’t mean anything if you serve poor quality coffee.
How important is it to accept cards?
Customers generally prefer paying with card. Particularly with the introduction of contactless payment, customers want to spend the least time on transactions. When we started offering a contactless payment option, from our back end card transactions have gone up from 25% to 60%.
Which drinks are most popular?
Our most popular drinks are our Flat Whites, Cappuccinos and Americanos. These drinks are becoming the standard for consumers. Customers no longer walk into a coffee shop and just ask for a “coffee”.
Is the Coffee Revolution just a ‘fad’?
However, is coffee as exclusive as it was in the old days? With ristrettos, macchiatos and flat whites- has coffee snobbery become a thing? Although coffee was traditionally exclusive to certain races and genders in Britain, this has completely changes. Rather than being viewed as exclusive, independent coffee houses are inclusive to all those who are looking for “good” coffee- from those who don’t know the difference between lattes and flat whites to coffee aficionados.