Allegra UK Coffee Leader Summit 2015


Allegra UK Coffee Leader Summit 2015


Last month we attended the Allegra London Coffee Study Tour alongside Esther and Angelina- Ops manager for Apostrophe and Head of Food for Tossed. The day was designed to give attendees an overview of new concepts and an insight into the coffee industry for 2015.

Throughout the day we were shown examples of new, independent concepts and the progress and plans of existing larger brands. Aside from the great coffee and food, there were certainly a few key points that we took away from the day:

Independents make a mean cup of coffee

There was a clear message coming from each independent venue we visited; coffee is important. People are really starting to sit up and take notice of not only how the coffee is made and how the final product tastes, but where the coffee has come from and how it's sourced. This has become a passion and a selling point for these venues, adding something to each cup produced.

The concept of a barista is changing

The presentation and impression of baristas is moving forward, more towards chef or connoisseur. The baristas are expected to know about the roasts and blends of the coffee and to be able to explain the flavours and scents of each blend. Harris + Hoole, are presenting their baristas to their customers without a counter between them- almost encouraging you to approach them, watch their work and ask questions.

Food is becoming an essential part of the offering

The offering of food alongside coffee is nothing new, but the range of what is being offered and the sourcing of it is becoming an increasingly important issue for both independent and chain coffee shops. In independent outlets, food can account for around half the revenue; offerings here are typically more varied as they are less restricted in comparison to the chains. There's often more fresh food, with frequently changing menus and specials. Larger chain coffee shops are struggling to keep up with this, with much of the food pre-packaged and being sent from central kitchens. In an effort to keep up with fresh and healthy eating trends, Starbucks are trialling a link up with Pod; a supplier of fresh food.

Food Offering

Space is an issue

Something obvious from our tour was that the independents are struggling for space; literally. The stores are much smaller than chain outlets and it's evident that they are forced to be cleverer with the space available to them. One great example of this was Attendant, a converted public convenience, where they incorporated the old fashioned urinals into the design of the space.


Siphon and aeropress coffee brewing not for the masses

A feature of many of the smaller outlets was the siphon or aeropress techniques of brewing the coffee; evidently a drawing feature for real coffee lovers. It's clear that this is not currently a viable option for the larger chains; they are time precious and training staff in new methods would be a drain on time and resources.

A clear message throughout the day and across all the venues, is that although the product and provenance are hugely important; alone they are not enough. Consumers are constantly looking for more, providing them with an experience to match, or set the stage for, your products is imperative.

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