Pubs considered a ‘coffee destination’

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hot topic: Brits drink about 95m cups of coffee every day according to The British Coffee Association
Hot topic: Brits drink about 95m cups of coffee every day according to The British Coffee Association

Related tags: Coffee

Almost one in 10 customers (9%) rate coffee served in a pub as being better than that served by the likes of Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee or Starbucks according to new research.

The survey of 1,000 UK coffee drinkers by Allegra Strategies, on behalf of UCC Coffee in August 2019, found that 48% of customers would plump for their local as opposed to a high street chain for a morning brew if pubs opened earlier.

According to parliamentary papers, there are four times as many coffee shops on UK high streets now than there were at the turn of the century with Brits drinking approximately 95m cups of coffee every day according to figures from The British Coffee Association.

With this in mind, and CGA Insight and AlixPartners’​ latest quarterly Market Growth Monitor revealing that the number of premium bars and licensed cafés increased by 4.1% in the year to March 2019, we took a closer look at the coffee sold in Britain’s pubs:

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Latte is the most popular order ​– according to customers surveyed by Allegra Strategies, on behalf of UCC Coffee, the latte is the most commonly ordered pub coffee ahead of the cappuccino and Americano – second and third most popular respectively – with the flat white and humble filter coffee rounding off the top five.

Cost of coffee​ – a full £1.40 cheaper than the price of the average pint​, coffee drinkers are willing to pay £2.39 for a good-quality coffee at their local, according to UCC’s survey.

Coffee snobbery hitting the pub trade​ – poor quality of pub coffee was the most likely reason to swerve an on-trade caffeine kick, in favour of high street mainstays like Pret and Costa according to UCC, with only 9% of pub patrons rating coffee in the pub as being better than that of coffee shop chains.

Other reasons why customers didn’t buy coffee in their local included weak taste and being too expensive – second and third most frequently used – ahead of a perceived lack of choice and coffee being too cold.

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Takeaway option​ – one-in-three customers ordering coffee from a pub would purchase it to take away, according to UCC’s research. However, while retailer Argos said it had sold 537% more portable cups in December 2017 than the same month the previous year, around 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are still thrown away​ in the UK every year.

Older audience​ – though 18 to 25-year-olds are said to be carrying the teetotal torch​, customers aged between 30 and 44 are willing to pay the most for a pub coffee according to UCC.

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Meal deal​ – UCC found that a quarter of customers would buy food as part of a coffee order. What’s more, when asked what would make them more likely to buy coffee in a pub, customers stated that the promise of a brew as part of a meal deal would be most effective in encouraging a purchase. Other factors that would encourage customers to purchase coffee from a pub included the availability of a loyalty scheme, cheaper prices, better trained staff and more variety.  

Better latte than never​ – though the most popular time of day to drink coffee in the pub is at lunchtime, 50% of regular pubgoers claim they would buy a coffee from their local if it opener earlier.

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Rise of the machines​ – almost half (44%) of coffee drinkers perceive coffee made by an automatic machine to be of ‘great quality’.

On a par with alcohol and food

“We’re starting to see consumer habits shift,” UCC Coffee’s head of category and insight UK & Ireland Phil Smith explained. He added: “Pubs are now considered a coffee destination. Coffee can certainly help drive sales and increase footfall during traditionally quieter periods, but there’s a catch. In order to diversify, grow and retain a customer base, high-quality coffee is key.

“The results from our latest research clearly show that consumers are willing to drink more coffee in pubs, but operators must be willing to give coffee the same attention as they do their alcohol and food offers.

“The beauty of serving coffee in pubs is that coffee has a high GP and are busy when pubs are quiet. Operators are now waking up to this opportunity.”

Related topics: Soft & Hot Drinks

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