The festival saw hundreds of businesses gather to celebrate coffee at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, central London from 20 to 23 April.
Roasters believed pubs were “missing a trick”: barista training, support local businesses and investing in staff could help pubs boost their coffee offering.
Lavazza UK head of training and brand ambassador David Cutler thought pubs should improve their coffee offering to embrace the rapidly changing and booming coffee culture scene of the UK.
He said: “Speciality coffee is able to really explore the boundaries of what coffee can be, whether it’s processing and different flavour profiles, to brewing methods and understanding the chemistry behind coffee and making perfect extraction.”
For Cutler, speciality coffee had exploded the coffee market in a way that was “really exciting”. Consumers were investing in inexpensive equipment to brew great coffee at home and were also served high quality coffee in cafes.
However, an “old fashioned” coffee experience in bars and restaurants could be a “let down experience” he added. Customers would either complain or not bother ordering coffee, Cutler believed, which meant bars were missing out on sales.
Coffee is often the last thing you taste after a meal, Cutler continued. He said: “They can’t afford that lasting impression to be a negative one.
“You’ve got all that work going into the food, it could even be a Michelin-starred experience, but if the coffee at the end is either stale or poorly made, that’s what they’ll remember.”
So how do pubs improve their coffee offering? For the founder of Dear Green roasters, they needed to hire staff with barista skills, invest in their current team members, and support local coffee businesses.
Lisa Lawson began her business in 2011 through selling coffee to bars around Glasgow. Pubs, she said, needed to “open their eyes up” to how culture was shifting, with young people drinking more coffee and less alcohol than previous generations.
They’d be “missing a trick” if they didn’t start preparing coffee well, she added.
Quality is key
For Sean McHugh, the wholesaler and training manager for Trading Post Coffee Roasters, Brighton, pubs could improve their coffee offering through taking a leaf out of their other products.
“A lot of the time they’ll go down the quality route for their food, but the coffee gets ignored and neglected a little bit,” McHugh explained.
In recent years, the UK has become one of Europe's largest coffee consuming countries. British consumers drank around 98m cups of coffee in 2021 - a marked increase from 28m cups in 2008, according to the British Coffee Association.
Pubs and bars could upgrade their coffee offering by using local roasters rather than a cheap wholesaler and making sure the training was there, McHugh continued.
By working with a local company, they could improve the quality without that much more cost. With pubs seeking different ways to generate income, McHugh predicted coffee was going to “catch on massively”.
Thomas Sangiovanni after sales manager for Area 51 believed pubs needed a wholesaler who could train staff in barista skills, with staff retention issues in hospitality making it hard to maintain the quality of coffee.
The art of coffee
While many pubs had coffee machines installed, this meant the art of a barista handmaking a cup of coffee was lost. The consequence of this was consumers opted not to drink coffee in pubs, according to Sangiovanni.
What’s behind a good cup of coffee? “The whole process”, he added. The relationship between the wholesaler, roaster and customer was paramount.
Green Coffee Company Rachel Thompson also said pubs should offer speciality coffee from a good quality coffee roaster.
She believed filter coffee would come into fashion in 2023 after consumers grew their understanding of speciality coffee, with the type of drink gaining traction on social media.
This was echoed by Carrow Coffee Roasters head roaster Andrew Willis, who forecasted 2023 would see consumers moving away from espresso coffee back to filter, as they appreciated the formality and fruitiness of the drink.