“Mine’s a cappuccino”: why selling coffee in pubs is a no-brainer

coffee in spaceLast year the Telegraph published a fascinating article which detailed why coffee shops are replacing pubs in Britain.

Unless you’ve been living on Kepler 452b, you will have noticed the huge rise in coffee shops across our town and city centres which has taken place over the last 15 years. Chains like Costas and Starbucks seem to be everywhere; while independent coffee houses are also booming.

This increase in the number of coffee and cake dispensaries has coincided with the continuing decline of public houses.

Is there a correlation?

Well, yes.

Don’t get me wrong, the reason for ongoing pub closures are varied. Nonetheless, one of the biggest is the change in our social drinking habits.

Once upon a time, social drinking was dominated by beer-swilling men. That market has expanded and fragmented, into something more varied and complex.

The evolution of drinking habits

A new-found taste for barista coffee and ‘special’ teas is right at the forefront. It’s men, women; young and old. It’s happy families and young professionals. It’s exhausted shoppers and leisure seekers.

Does your pub provide for all of them? Or do you restrict yourself to just a small section of that market?

The reality is, social drinkers are YOUR customers, regardless of whether they’re demanding skinny lattes or a pint of Guinness.

Become a cafe during the day

You might think you can’t compete with the cafes which specialise in this marketplace, but you’re wrong.

Here’s the thing…

When you’re walking around your town centre, check out the cafes and coffee shops during peak times in the morning and leading up to lunch. You’re guaranteed that they’ll be incredibly busy – all of them.

Meanwhile, many pubs will be near empty. That’s crazy! There are one or two reasons why this will be the case:

  1. You don’t serve a high quality range of coffees
  2. You don’t effectively publicise your high quality range of coffees

However, you don’t need to take my word for the importance of tea and coffee in pubs in the 21st Century pub. Take the example of JD Wetherspoons…

In March this year, Wetherspoons detailed how it planned to triple it’s coffee and breakfast sales over an 18-month period. Sounds like a grand ambition, perhaps. Yet, they know the market is out there – and they’re ready to exploit it.

Now, it’s impossible to expect every pub to offer an early bird breakfast service like Wetherspoons do, but the tactic of pushing sales of coffee in pubs is exactly what every publican should be doing during daytime hours.

Coffee drinking in the UK used to be rather basic. We used to simply boil up the kettle and liquidise instant coffee granules at home. Now it’s all about leaving the house for barista-made Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos and suchlike.

If people are drinking more coffee and less beer, it’s time to start grinding beans…

So, take half-an-hour away from your pub and visit the most popular cafe in your area. Why is it so popular? Is it the simple combination of coffee and cake? Is it the generous loyalty card? Is it the way they publicise themselves?

Learn from their service, and then work out how you can get an edge.

Image ‘To Space and Beyond’ by Christopher Michel – CC


One Comment

  1. Once I thought that a pub was just like a bar in the sense that they served alcohol, but as I now know I was very wrong.

    A pub isn’t just like a bar, not only do they serve alcohol, they serve hot meals like a restaurant, they can even have lodging.

    Lastly, pubs have a warmer atmosphere than a bar, not just a place to have a drink, it’s a place to sit down and have a chat and enjoy a hot meal.


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