Hot drinks

Hotting up: winter alternatives to coffee

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Boost sales with winter warming hot drinks
Boost sales with winter warming hot drinks

Related tags Hot chocolate Coffee Chocolate

The temperature is dipping, collars are being turned up and customers are looking for something to warm the cockles of the hearts. The answer, says Noli Dinkovski, is a diverse coffee offer that is adaptable to the seasons.

Think there are already more than enough outlets selling coffee in the UK? Well, think again.

The coffee-shop market, which was valued at £7.2bn at the start of the year, is in fact expected to be worth a staggering £16.5bn by 2020, according to the Allegra World Coffee Portal.

While this growth is an opportunity for pubs to take a greater slice of hot drinks sales, it also means they will have to work even harder to stand out from the crowd.

One way of achieving this is to embrace changing seasonal tastes. As the colder months approach, consumers look beyond standard varieties of coffee and tea and towards ‘winter warming’ and spicier drinks – and pubs should make the most of the demand.

Satisfied in the colder months

Coffee specialist Matthew Algie stocks a range of warming drinks recipes that, the firm claims, will help keep customers satisfied in the colder months ahead.

New drinks include a salted caramel latte, a white chocolate and raspberry drizzle, and a dark and white hot chocolate. It has also brought back two drinks from last year — a caramel crunch cappuccino and a hot chocolate orange.

“The colder months are a key selling period for the hot drinks market, and publicans should take advantage of this by offering an exciting selection of limited-edition speciality drinks,” says Andrew Jack, head of marketing at Matthew Algie.

Customers can be encouraged to try seasonal drinks through the use of point-of-sale, suggests Jack.

“Staff should be trained in how to serve the drinks to a tried and tested specification and know how to garnish them indulgently, for example, with cream and speciality toppings,” he adds.

Simple to execute

While presentation is clearly important, seasonal drinks must also be simple to execute — after all, it’s likely staff will be less inclined to promote drinks that are complex to make, experts say.

Nestlé Professional says its Nescafé Milano 2.0 machine is easy to operate and produces ‘barista-style’ coffee at the push of a button.

The machine also enables users to add syrups and create new taste profiles that any member of staff can prepare, says Richard Green, head of beverage solutions at Nestlé Professional.

“Caramel-flavoured options are a popular choice for autumn, for example, while a cinnamon-infused latte is perfect for Christmas,” he suggests.

Flavoured coffees also make an ideal partner for cake as a teatime offer. “Try serving a cinnamon latte with an apple or pear pie, or a caramel cappuccino with a prune pie or cinnamon roll,” Green adds.

Enhance tea

Hot drinks facts

Hot drinks, and coffee in particular, are becoming an ever more important sales generator for pubs – and the industry is finally starting to catch on to the opportunity:

• According to Allegra World Coffee Portal’s report, Project Café 2015, the number of pubcos offering a ‘strong coffee’ provision increased to 648 last year — up 19% on 2013.

• Allegra has also found that speciality coffee now accounts for an estimated 15% of the total volume of the out-of-home coffee market. It forecasts 13% year-on-year growth, which outperforms overall coffee growth of 10%.

• A recent study by Hospitality Gem, however, concluded that pub operators still need to do more to meet customer demand. It found that while two-thirds of customers expect good quality coffee in pubs, only 2% of those surveyed say the pub is where they buy coffee the most.

As with coffee, spices and syrups can also be used to enhance tea. Drink Me Chai is one of a number of emerging tea suppliers that can offer something different from the norm.

Founder Amanda Hamilton says younger people in particular are looking for an alternative to coffee, and her company’s chai latte range is proving especially popular.

“Our spiced chai latte and skinny chai latte are both perfect for autumn as they are warming with delicate spices, sweet tea and milk” she suggests. “Or, you can add syrups to create interesting recipes such as pumpkin chai or gingerbread chai latte.”

According to Hamilton, the chai latte range can also be used to create cocktails. “We have a Chai Martini cocktail made using Baileys, vodka and spiced chai. Simply mix the ingredients with milk and ice in a cocktail shaker and serve over ice,” she suggests.

As versatile as tea is, it’s worth remembering that the second most popular drink in coffee shops, behind coffee, is actually hot chocolate, according to Allegra.

Leading hot chocolate

The leading hot chocolate brand in the UK is Cadbury, and owner Mondelēz International claims to have developed a range of menu ideas to help outlets increase sales.

“Recipes such as our Scrumptious Strawberry Surprise uses strawberry syrup to add a fruity mix to classic drinking chocolate, while Oreo Chocolate Crush blends Oreo cookies and ice into the mix for a cool, blended Frappe option,” says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International.

The Cadbury Wispa hot chocolate drink, meanwhile, has helped to bring younger consumers to the instant hot chocolate category, claims Nash.

“Available in an 850g catering tin, Wispa hot chocolate is made by adding hot water — this improves operational efficiency, as a delicious frothy top is created without the need for a milk frother,” she adds.

So, whether it’s by offering unusual variants of hot chocolate, tea or coffee, catering for seasonal tastes should provide pubs with a much-needed warm glow throughout the colder months ahead.

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