Shrewd operators are looking to coffee sales for growth. Craig Hawtin-Butcher doses up on how caffeine can help hoteliers hit the high notes.

The apparent consumption of alcohol per person in Australia has fallen again, and is now at levels not seen since the 1960s, according to data released in September by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The main driver has been reduced beer volumes, with an average decline of 2.4 per cent per year over the last 10 years, though there has also been a decline witnessed in wine sales.

With that in mind, is it now time to pay more attention to the opportunities presented by non-alcoholic beverages and coffee in particular? With high margins possible, the opportunity to maximise those morning opening hours and to support or encourage a brunch service and foodservice, for those who get it right, the potential profits are highly attractive.

Cafe coffee culture

“There is recognition from the on-premise sector that coffee has evolved to an important part of everyday life,” says Michael Taylor, national sales manager at Di Bella, Australia’s second-largest supplier and roaster of specialty coffee.

“Coffee is communal and conversations that may have taken place around the bar over beer or wine now might take place at the suburban café sitting on milk crates over coffee,” says Taylor. But far from representing a threat, Taylor is clear that mornings represent an obvious opportunity for owners and operators.

“I have supported clubs in the past that have chosen to open early with a full breakfast and high-quality coffee offering,” says Taylor. “Their coffee sales have moved up to volumes seen at some successful cafés. A successful coffee offering can open up a whole new client base not seen during the ‘traditional hours’ and provide a platform to a larger market.”

As a result, he says, many hoteliers are upping their game, looking to lure customers back into the on-premise through a quality offering.

“We are seeing higher quality equipment sitting on benches and bars,” says Taylor. “The business may have even built a hole-in-the-wall coffee offering for those important coffee trading hours”.

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