by | Jun 2, 2020

The changing face of the coffee industry

The coffee industry has seen a number of changes and challenges over the years but, not on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had a profound impact on coffee culture. The harsh reality is that the ramifications stretch far into the future, and it may be months or even years before the market normalises.

Read more: The Barista – A Dying Profession?  

The growth of online sales

As people were forced to stay at home, online sales saw a boom. Especially in the coffee space where end-users were able to access a variety of blends and flavour profiles from a number of different roasters and coffee houses.

This opened up opportunities for coffee companies that originally played in the B2B space to innovate. As a result, we witnessed a number of roasters entering the online retail realm. Those that were quick to respond were the ones that benefitted from brand awareness in the digital space.

The hospitality industry 

While online coffee sales for home use grew, the hospitality sector was one of the worst affected. This had a major impact on restaurants, hotels and fast food outlets who were unable to trade at the beginning of lockdown.

Even when government unlocked takeaways at level 4, coffees were excluded in delivery services because of the difficulty in transporting hot beverages.

Changing consumer behaviour

It will be interesting to see how consumer behaviour changes during level 3. Social media shows that people have missed the experience of going to their favourite spot to get a cup of coffee. But on the other hand, people are concerned about their safety. So I believe that coffee consumption habits will shift and many will be looking at solutions that give them quality coffee in the comfort of their homes.

Corporate and office canteens have also felt the pinch as they have remained closed up until this point. More and more businesses will look to keep their employees working from home. Therefore, the demand for coffee will be considerably less.

All of this doesn’t change the fact that people still want their daily caffeine fix. So I predict that consumers will start aggressively exploring alternative brewing methods as well as look at having bean-to-cup and traditional espresso machine options at home.

With no definitive timeframe for when things will start returning back to usual, coffee has changed. And while there is so much uncertainty, this is an exciting time for innovation and creativity in the coffee industry! So I look forward to seeing how this will shape the industry as we’ve come to know it.

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