Tuesday, 31st October, 2017

Hot Beverages

Tea and coffee are amongst the UKs favourite beverages, on average 70 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in comparison to a huge 165 million cups of tea, according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association. The latest Google Beverage Trends Report indicates that the top trends and flavours to hit the market in the tea and coffee categories are cold brew, infusion, ginger and matcha, with more traditional options falling by the wayside. Last year the volume of sales of black tea fell by about 1.6%, with fruit, green and herbal tea sales rising by 2.8% in volume and 6.8% in value according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Despite this interest in alternative blends however, sales of tea has been waning for a while, Richard Caines, Senior Food & Drink Analyst, at Market Research firm Mintel says; “UK retail value sales of tea have been in decline, with growth in sales of green, fruit/herbal and speciality teas not enough to make up for a fall in sales of standard black tea that dominates the market.

“Tea brands need to increase the appeal of their products to 16-34-year-olds who have a stronger preference for more indulgent hot drinks.”

Millennials have been a major influence in the increasing popularity of the coffee shop and have inspired a change throughout the industry for trend lead indulgent beverages, with experimentation level for these hot drinks significantly higher in this younger consumer group. 

Anita Winther, Research Analyst at Mintel says; “Although black tea is still drunk by the vast majority of people, competition from other tea types, as well as coffee and soft drinks, has chipped away at its role as Britons’ go-to day-to-day drink.

“Indulgent flavours could help to sidestep younger consumers’ dislike of the bitterness of black tea, while highlighting their sugar-free credentials could allow flavoured teas to foster a role as an alternative to sugary drinks.”

Overall Allegra World Coffee Portal expect the coffee industry to undertake a 17% growth in the next five years and as the category grows, they suspect operators will need to step up to the mark with freshly made iced beverages and blended smoothie offerings in order to attract and retain the increasingly health conscious consumer.  In fact, Mintel say that globally 53% of consumers believe hot drinks can offer the same or better health benefits as non-prescription medication, unlocking new opportunities for hot drinks that claim to improve health and general wellbeing. 

Due to an increased focus on the importance of health and wellbeing, consumers and operators need to pay close attention to the ingredients and nutritional contents of their food and drink choices.  Tom Noonan, Senior Brand Manager for DaVinci Gourmet says; “With consumers becoming more and more health conscious, operators should make sure their menu caters to a variety of preferences.”

“Through promoting a tea menu that is full of choice, as well as pushing the hydrating and energising benefits the beverage has to offer, operators will drive tea sales, as well as their profits.”

Read on to find out the latest in hot beverages as we take a close look at this important sector and find out why the popularity of coffees, teas and hot chocolates shows no sign of waning.


• Oliver Rudman, Application Engineer Specialist,3M
• Mark Brigden, Technical Director, Biopac (UK) Ltd
• Justin Stockwell, Managing Director, Caffeine Limited
• Tom Noonan, Senior Brand Manager for DaVinci Gourmet
• Becci Eplett, UK Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki Ltd
• Ricky Flax, General Manager, Italian Beverage Company
• Barry Kither, AFH Sales and Marketing Director, Lavazza UK
• Marshall Kingston, Tetley Senior Brand Manager - Out of Home
• Andrea Stopher, Shopper Marketing Manager, Twinings’
• Simon Remmer, Sales Director, Rombouts
• Daniel Stegmeyer, Marketing Manager, WMF
• Louise Cheadle, Co-Founder, teapigs
• Daniel Clarke, Managing Director, La Cimbali UK
• Jane Pettigrew of The UK Tea Academy

Tea drives breakfast sales

A cup of hot tea is still the most popular drink in the UK and the sales opportunity it offers spans across all day parts, with 3.1 billion tea occasions out of home in the UK, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel.  The same research says that tea continues to be the biggest beverage category out of home, with growth in the sector increasing steadily in the last 12 months. Coffee occasions out of home, however, have stagnated, dropping by 10% versus last year, presenting a key opportunity for operators to assess their current hot beverage offering and attract new advocates to the tea category.

“Hot drinks dominate in the morning and around breakfast time, with hot drinks equating to 80% of occasions between 6am and 9am. Breakfast and mid-morning is without doubt the most important day part for hot beverage consumption, for tea especially. 30.7% of occasions between 6am and 9am involve tea, which has risen over the past year, whereas coffee occasions during the same day part has declined YOY,” says Marshall Kingston, Senior Brand Manager - Out of Home, Tetley.

Consumers are becoming increasingly time poor and have a tendency to skip breakfast all together. With 26% of adults saying they eat breakfast at their desk, operators should offer healthy options that can be eaten on the go and a balanced breakfast bagel is the ideal solution. 

“These could offer a variety of sweet and savoury options, including peanut butter, cinnamon, honey and banana for a protein fueled start to the day, or a cream cheese and avocado loaded brekkie bagel, containing good fats and high in nutrients,” adds Marshall Kingston.   

Tea drinkers are also becoming far more adventurous. Twinings’ have found that while their most popular blends - English breakfast and Earl Grey - have become mainstream favourites, recent figures have shown that sales of mainstream black tea are in decline. In contrast, green tea and fruit and herbal blends have experienced the greatest levels of growth over the past few years, as health and wellbeing has become a key driver of consumer choice. Younger consumers in particular are looking for healthier products, which have reduced calories but still deliver on taste. 

“An increasing number of consumers are also opting for speciality teas in higher quality formats, such as loose leaf tea or loose leaf pyramid tea bags, in pursuit of more variety,” says Andrea Stopher, Shopper Marketing Manager, Twinings’. 

“The smaller surface area of loose leaf tea retains the leaf’s essential oils which are released in the form of multiple flavours and aromas into the cup when brewed, delivering a richer depth of flavour.
Fruit infusions are also fast-growing in the market, satisfying functional hydration, taste and caffeine-free needs,” adds Andrea. 

In fact the herbal and fruit infusions category is worth £66m and makes up 38% of the total Special Tea market. The most successful operators are those already responding to this increased consumer demand by promoting fruit and herbal infusions alongside their regular black tea offering. With all natural ingredients, infusions and green teas are not served with milk and sugar, which is a big draw for health-conscious consumers.

Tea is also highly versatile, and this has led to an increase in its rate of consumption, with tea now accounting for just over one-quarter (27%) of all OOH hot beverage servings in Britain. Tom Noonan, DaVinci Gourmet says; “As well as tea being a healthy and hydrating beverage, consumers also favour tea for its indulgent factor.

“Complex and inventive tastes and essences are becoming ever more apparent. Matcha, acai and hibiscus are all on the rise and through adding interesting flavour combinations to their menus, operators will ensure to entice different consumer taste buds.”

The teapigs range of 32 teas include traditional black teas such as everyday brew and earl grey strong; punchy herbal teas such as peppermint leaves and chamomile flowers; a range of green, white, oolong and rooibos teas; and a range of functional feel-good teas.  teapigs was the first to launch matcha tea in the UK back in 2008, and its popularity and instagrammable nature has seen its popularity grow.  Matcha is 100% green tea leaves, ground to a fine powder – essentially a super concentrated green tea.

“Matcha has been drunk in Japan for centuries, but when we launched it in the UK it was relatively unknown,” says Louise Cheadle, teapigs co-founder and tea taster.  “It’s now our fastest growing tea and we have tonnes of people writing in to tell us how great they feel from drinking it,” adds Louise. 

Although the ubiquitous cappuccino, café latte, Americano and everyday tea will always form the basis of the speciality drinks menu, recent research shows that younger consumers in particular are interested in black tea fusions and fruit teas as a healthy alternative to coffee and sugary drinks.  Operators who broaden the appeal of their hot beverages offer with a mix of fruit teas are therefore more likely to drive sales, especially amongst the younger demographic.

“We launched our new and exclusive Simply Winter Warmers range of tea syrups to help operators take advantage of this increasing demand for fruit and herbal teas which has grown by 2.5% year on year,” explains Ricky Flax, General Manager the Italian Beverage Company (IBC).

“These delicious, easy to serve drinks are perfect for chilly days and a great alternative to more traditional black teas that consumers are keen to experience.  Requiring no training or skill to prepare, they can be added to the menu at short notice when there’s a sudden cold snap.

“Fruit teas are really popular right now, especially amongst the under 45s,” adds Ricky. “Our new Winter Warmers feed the trend for more interesting flavour options as consumers are increasingly keen to try something new.”

“Health remains a current key trend and consumers, in particular millennials are creating an increasingly health conscious generation,” adds Marshall.  “Tea is often chosen for its health and thirst quenching benefits and the common myth that caffeinated beverages dehydrate the body is being overturned.

“A refreshing ‘cuppa’ in the morning can effectively help hydrate the body and plays an essential role in improving health and well-being.”

Cafe culture

Coffee is one of the biggest beverage category’s out of home, driven by consumers’ increasingly explorative tastes and raised expectations. Across the UK, many consumers want to enjoy a coffee on the go, without its natural bitterness, especially younger people, and as a result look for a sweeter taste. Capitalising on consumers’ desire to try new flavours is important. Looking beyond traditional and standard beverages and introducing variety to drinks menus is sure to increase beverage sales and enable independent retailers to stand out.

“With a seemingly endless increase in consumers’ explorative tastes, ensuring that operators are meeting the needs of the ever-growing speciality beverage industry is vital.  Food to go operators that tap into the latest beverage and flavour trends will thrive by delivering a diverse and varied offering,” explains Tom Noonan. 

“DaVinci Gourmet offers the full beverage solution; enabling operators to create a variety of espresso based hot beverages, hot chocolates and teas in endless flavour combinations to serve to customers on the go.  Our range of flavoured syrups has been re-formulated to become the largest brand free from artificial colours and flavours, so operators can rest assured they are providing customers with exciting and delicious drinks that are full of natural flavours.”

The UK coffee market is constantly evolving, with the demand for excellent quality products being taken on board by high street chains, café culture and emerging coffee shops alike, recognise that even the younger consumers know what they want and therefore expect premium quality coffee. 

“With this being said, the capsule market is also following suit in the sense that consumers’ tastes are now driving the coffee market to create a whole range of capsules targeted towards different tastes in coffee strength, in addition to a variety of roast blends, in order to meet the growing demands of consumer expectations,” says Barry Kither, AFH Sales and Marketing Director at Lavazza UK. “Understanding how origin can affect strength, taste and quality is a huge factor within this.
“Another consideration is the ethical quality of the capsules being used,” adds Barry.  “By selecting ethically-sourced products such as Lavazza’s recently launched Tierra Origins range, businesses can reassure consumers that their purchase is supporting the coffee-growing communities in which it has been sourced.”

Of course tea and coffee are not the only drivers of the hot beverage market, another product category that is currently enjoying increased popularity is gourmet hot chocolate. More than 50% of hot chocolate purchases are driven by impulse, weather conditions and seasonality with the increased sales volumes attributed to improved product quality and creative recipe development.

“When the temperatures drop, there is nothing nicer than an indulgent, luxury hot chocolate and operators who invest in a good quality product and creative presentation will see sales soar,” explained Ricky.

“IBC offers a range of premium hot chocolates including a delicious, velvety smooth, dark chocolate containing 45% cocoa, to serve just mix with hot milk.  Plus, a thick and smooth Italian style chocolate, an indulgent white chocolate, a creamy blend of complex flavours and a sweet ground chocolate which is mixed with hot water to serve.”

“Our flavoured syrups such as chocolate mint, salted caramel and gingerbread can be added to extend the flavour options across the hot chocolate menu. Finish with fresh, whipped cream and top with IBC real chocolate flakes, sprinkles, strands, Crunchie pieces, marshmallows or cookie crumb.  Or let your imagination run wild in true unicorn style and choose from IBC’s extensive range of candy sprinkles and toppings!”

Boost your offering

Switching up the drinks menu with new signature drinks and seasonal recipes will help keep the menu interesting and broaden the appeal to attract new customers.  “Flavoured syrups have become a bar essential and one of the most versatile ‘must have’ ingredients on the shelf because they can be used all year round to change up the menu and keep customers engaged,” said Ricky.

IBC recommend stocking a core range of classic flavours for use in hot and iced coffees and hot chocolates such as Simply Vanilla, Caramel, Hazelnut, Cinnamon, Mint and Chocolate.  These warmer, indulgent options are ideal for autumn and winter and can be supplemented with seasonal specials such as Simply Chestnut Praline, Xmas Pudding and Gingerbread in a whole range of signature drinks. 

“Our syrups can be used to great effect in any blended drinks to either complement or intensify existing flavours – the only limitation is the barista’s imagination!,” says Ricky. 

Fast service is also important. Customers don’t like to be kept waiting. Lots of people claim that you need 25 seconds and a trained barista to brew an espresso. But modern bean- to-cup machines are easy for anyone to operate and use different temperatures and pressures, so they can brew faster. “They pre-brew the coffee, too, by dampening it before the main shot of water is put through, which achieves better extraction,” adds Justin Stockwell, Managing Director, Caffeine Limited. 

Tea has an increasingly cool image and is versatile enough to be paired with syrups, fruits and spices to create some delicious drinks. “Teamed with Twinings brand reassurance, this means operators can afford to price that little bit higher for what is regarded as a more premium offering,” elaborates Andrea Stopher.

“According to the Allegra Report, 53% of consumers consider a premium brand to be the most important factor when ordering tea out of home.  Additionally of all the consumers questioned for the report, 41% consider Twinings to be the most popular brand OOH. By serving premium branded teas, outlets can assure their guests that they are delivering a quality serve that will taste the same every time.

“Outlets can bring their tea service to life and draw in new tea drinking crowds by serving their teas and infusions in stylish crockery.  Style and theatre also add to the experience.  For more of a contemporary feel that will appeal to younger consumers, outlets can make subtle changes to presentation that will make a huge difference to the customer journey.  For example, serve green teas and infusions in a glass with a slice of lemon, or a sprig of mint to delight your customers.”

With so many competitors offering increasingly higher quality drinks, there is only so far that a stand -alone good quality drink will go. This is where other variables such as staff training, environment and customer service are imperative and can be the deciding factors that make the difference between selling one drink versus making a loyal customer.

“In general, it always helps to shake up a menu selection where feasible to maintain customer interest and be seen as relevant across different occasions,” says Simon Remmer Sales Director at Rombouts. “This doesn’t necessarily have to mean regular menu overhauls or slavishly following café culture trends, in fact it can be subtle seasonal twists that will have a big impact on customers.

“For example, our Majes-T range features herbal teas such as rosehip and tropical fruits, both of which lend themselves to being served as iced teas in summer as the ideal refreshment on a hot day.

“Likewise, offering pumpkin-spiced lattes over the Christmas period for example,” adds Simon.  “Also having ‘guest’ coffees on offer will keep customers coming back and may encourage regulars to try new styles of beverage and even upselling opportunities with seasonal food accompaniments.”

Daniel Clarke of La Cimbali UK agrees stating that introducing seasonal recipes is a sure fire way to boost sales.  “Research shows that consumers are keen to experiment with new flavours,” adds Daniel. 

“Autumn and winter are traditionally the ‘hot beverage’ seasons so it’s the perfect time to try new coffee blends, artisan teas and fruit fusions and flavoured syrups,” explains Daniel.  “The ‘serve’ is becoming increasingly important too as a way to boost the price point so experiment with new serve ware, presentation skills and pour at table options to add value with a touch of theatre.”

Making the most of your hot beverages

With the right kind of technology, you can ensure that the quality of your coffee and tea is served at its best. From packaging solutions to grinding and brewing equipment there is a lot of tech available to boost your hot beverage offering. 

One solution to providing barista-quality coffee – without employing barista-qualified members of staff – is capsules.  “This is the fastest-growing part of our business; a capsule-based solution allows pubs and restaurants to provide a variety of serves at consistent quality, cost-effectively,” explains Barry Kither.

“The Lavazza BLUE WEGA capsule machine enables operators who do not have highly skilled baristas to provide equal, if not better, quality coffee every time. Each single capsule contains a 7-8g dose of coffee, the same dose baristas use for each espresso they serve to their customers.”

Modern bean to cup machines ensure a careful balance of ingredients - coffee, milk, cocoa, syrup and so forth – to give operators enormous freedom in creating their own speciality beverages, which, once developed, can be easily reproduced with consistent quality.

“For venues looking to serve quality coffee without any fuss or employing specialist baristas then modern bean-to-cup machines are the answer,” says Justin Stockwell.  “They make a coffee as close to a barista-brewed espresso as a push-button machine can get and are multifunctional, so they can offer dozens of different drink variations at the touch of a button.”

“Consumers expect to enjoy great tasting coffee whether at home, dining out or enjoying a take out on the run,” adds Daniel Clarke.  “Standards are rising and that puts even greater pressure on operators, both the independents and branded chains, to deliver across the speciality drinks menu to a consistent standard. 

“It is in the design and development of the super-automatic machine where we are currently seeing the greatest innovation,” he adds.  “For example, the La Cimbali S30 Perfect Touch is a new breed of ‘super smart’ super-automatic coffee machine which delivers exceptional coffee quality, at speed and at a high volume through the working day.”

Water is also a crucial aspect for operators to consider.  An Americano is 98% water, therefore if the water from your mains supply has been treated with chlorine or chloramines and tastes like a swimming pool, customers are going to notice. Water filtration solutions that use carbon block technology can help to remove these chemicals and significantly improve the taste of hot beverages.

“3M recently launched the ScaleGard Blend Series of cartridges and filter heads, offering more capabilities and user control than ever before,” says Oliver Rudman, Application Engineer Specialist at 3M.  “As well as removing chlorine and chloramines from the mains water supply using carbon block technology, this series of products can also significantly reduce lime scale, using high-capacity Ion Exchange Resin technology.

“This can help to reduce inefficiencies caused by scale build-up within common equipment, leading to significant energy savings, reduced machine downtime and fewer premature replacements.”

Jane Pettigrew of The UK Tea Academy, the only body in the UK to offer a professional tea certification programme agrees.  She says: “The majority of us live in hard water areas, and it has a big impact on the tea we drink. The high levels of limescale and calcium present in hard water changes the colour of tea significantly.”

“Hard water also drowns its subtle flavours and aroma, and the tea can even taste unclean. By using filtered water, the sweetness and interesting complexity of aroma and flavour of the tea will come through beautifully.” 

Alongside BRITA Professional Jane demonstrate how the variation of water between regions, and even street-to-street, impacts hot beverage quality.

Finally, packaging has significant importance in the delivery of drinks or food-to-go within QSR, it must enhance the customer experience by ensuring that its content is delivered looking and smelling temptingly delicious, at the right temperature and in perfect ‘freshly served’ condition. It should also be easy to open, to eat or drink from and to dispose of responsibly.

“Huhtamaki offer a wide range of disposable cups for hot and cold beverages,” says Becci Eplett, UK Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki Ltd.  “Custom printing is a great benefit if a business wants to communicate particular messages to customers.

“According to Huhtamaki research, three quarters of consumers (75%) buy food to go which is served in branded packaging,” adds Becci.  “Given that an incredible 41% of food-to-go consumers use social media to upload photos or to interact with an outlet; (89% of them use Facebook), branded packaging is a fantastic opportunity to build engagement, drive sales and generate publicity.”

The Future

A key continuing trend for next year will be an emphasis on healthier options across food and drink choices.

“Consumers are taking a much more proactive approach to health these days with nearly half of Britons taking a daily vitamin or mineral supplement,” says Ricky.

“We are seeing a surge in vegan and plant based menu concepts, and dairy, gluten and soya free food items as consumers prioritise their health.  Our new Add a Scoop range of powdered nutritional supplements allow operators to tap into this wellness trend simply by adding a taste and odour free supplement to everyday food and drink items as part of a healthy options menu.”

Plus, as consumers search for new beverage experiences operators are looking for innovative concepts with minimum prep time. “Frappes have great appeal, particularly with the Millennials who have grown up with the blended iced drinks of the 90s,”adds Ricky. 

“Even though cold brewed and nitrogen infused coffees getting more and more popular, milk based coffee specialities are still the favourites of British coffee drinkers,” says Daniel Stegmeyer, of coffee machine suppliers WMF.  “Due to the increasing health-conscious behaviour, it is essential to offer different milk options to suit everybody’s needs,” adds Daniel. 
“Also not only are the ingredients important to ensure consistent quality, but also well trained staff and highly reliable equipment which guarantees the same quality in every situation in your business, even in busy times.”

It is also apparent that high quality filter coffee is becoming increasingly popular as consumer tastes are improving and consequently people are looking for an alternative to milk-based drinks. “Over the past year, there has also been a rise and increased awareness of cold coffee options; cold brew and Nitro coffee,” adds Simon Remmer.  “Not only do these offer a new way to enjoy coffee, they also enable consumers to avoid too much extra sugar and additives, which are often found in popular frappes and smoothies.

“One particular trend that we expect to see next summer in the UK is closely linked to hot beverages but in fact served cold. The espresso & tonic is making waves across the globe on a small but increasing and noticeable scale. It’s as simple as a good quality espresso added to tonic water over ice.”

Information from The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) highlights that many QSR chains are updating their menus and reinventing the in-store experience to bring in more technology, creating a more premium look and feel to appeal to younger consumers. There are also many newer players emerging and expanding across the UK in this segment.

This leads to operators needing to stand out and be different to attract customers. “Huhtamaki are constantly innovating to ensure they are at the leading edge of disposable food and drink products,” adds Becci Eplett.  “From Future SmartTM, a 100% renewable paperboard material to AdtoneTM, the intelligent and interactive cup with a heat sensitive label and a Quick Response (QR) code that links to digital content.

“We understand that packaging is about so much more than just what goes round a product. It’s about building brands, protecting reputation, and opening up new opportunities in new markets.”

Also as customers are becoming more educated about the impact packaging can have on the environment, companies are reassessing their use of packaging and are looking for ways to present more environmentally friendly solutions.

“Biopac’s coffee cups are produced from certified sustainable board and unlike a conventional coffee cup (lined with a plastic film),” says Mark Brigden, Technical Director, Biopac (UK) Ltd.
“Our cups are lined with a plant starch material to make the cup leak-proof. Using a starch film, means that the cups are fully compostable in just 12 weeks and can be disposed of, along with food waste, via ‘In-Vessel’ composting.

“We work hard to ensure our products convey a ‘green’ message to help our clients communicate their green credentials. Two of our most popular products – ‘I am not a plastic cup’ and ‘I’m a green cup’ – do exactly that. The message on the packaging itself highlights your green credentials. This can add significant value to your brand or business.”