Have you had a cup of coffee today? If you’re like 80% of UK adults, the answer is yes! Coffee shops are some of the world’s most profitable retailers, with revenues expected to hit $201.4 billion by 2027. It’s easy to see why cafe competition is so fierce – and why standing out is critical. Innovation and timeliness are key to success in coffee shops, and we want to make sure your business achieves them. That’s why we brewed up this list of the hottest cafe and coffee shop trends for 2023!
These trends are all at the forefront of the coffee industry and consumers spending habits. Choose the ones that fit your cafe best, and build upon them to create your business's own signature blends.
Want to put a kick in your stores coffee? Why not try carbonating it? Several of todays top coffee shops especially in the indie scene are fizzing up their range of beverages. Its a simple, ingenious idea: instead of brewing coffee with flat H2O, these businesses are using tonic or sparkling water. Carbonated coffee has a unique taste and texture, and lets customers enjoy fizzy caffeine without the empty calories of soda. Plus, most cafes already offer carbonated sodas and juices, so doing the same for coffee isn't much of a stretch.
Carbonation also has a strong advantage over many other modern cafe trends: it's cheap! Soda and sparkling water appliances are readily available to retailers, and can fizz up coffee with almost zero additional costs. Carbonated beverages also lend themselves well to experimentation with different ingredients, opening up a new world of flavours for your menu. Just by changing the type of water your coffee uses, you can give customers a unique, trendy drink!
Speaking of milk alternatives, there’s one plant-based coffee ingredient that’s been making headlines across the globe! Olive oil is now being touted as the next great coffee innovation by none other than Starbucks itself. The world’s largest coffee chain has already launched olive oil coffee in Italy, and is now pushing it to American markets. Starbucks’ “Oleato” line is stirring up conversation online and in the press, and even health experts are weighing in. If you’re looking for a cafe trend that will turn heads in 2023, olive oil is your best bet!
Olive oil in coffee isn’t as strange as you’d think. Mediterranean coffee drinkers have been enjoying the beverage for decades, and it’s essentially no different than any other milk alternative. Plus, olive oil provides your customers with various vitamins and minerals that no other plant-based milk does. This trend is already a social media sensation; by joining it, you’ll be engaging a timely, in-touch audience.
A large portion of today’s cafe customers are taking – and making – their coffee at home. The rise of remote work and changing consumer preferences have created a packaged coffee boom, and cafes are noticing it. If you walk into a coffee shop today, you’ll likely see branded bags of coffee beans lining the shelves. These aren’t just cute pieces of merchandise – they’re major profit drivers, helping coffee retailers reach beyond their store walls. Offering packaged coffee diversifies a cafe’s product line without demanding additional staff.
There’s no need to limit your business’s packaged goods to coffee beans, of course. Instant coffee, coffee pods, branded drinkware, and to-go snacks are all cost-efficient ways of growing your menu. Ideal for busy cafes, these products can be sold quickly and easily without the need for cooking or processing. You can also open new revenue streams by selling packaged goods online or through delivery apps, maximising your cafe’s profit.
In the past, the coffee industry has faced criticism regarding ethical and environmental concerns. However, in 2023, significant progress has been made towards sustainability and fair trade in the coffee industry. Today’s coffee giants take a socially-conscious approach to their production and sales practices, and frequently involve themselves in charity initiatives. These actions have earned praise from media sources and consumers alike, strengthening the public image of the entire coffee industry.
If there’s a cause you’re passionate about, aligning your brand with it can be a great way to engage customers. Today’s leading consumer demographics take an active interest in bettering the world, and make purchasing decisions based on those interests. By supporting fair trade suppliers, reducing waste, and promoting sustainability, you’ll show customers you care – and they’ll return the favor.
Who says coffee needs to be hot!? Cold brews are taking cafes across the globe by storm. Iced beverages are extremely popular with Gen Z, and brewing them makes for great promotional material on social media. These colder beverages are popular year-round (especially in warm climates), making them a great marketing resource. They also provide more customisation options than traditional drinks – a big priority for younger consumers.
Iced beverages are great for baristas, too – they can be prepared and stored in batches, speeding up service and sales. These blends also typically don’t require extra ingredients, making them highly cost-efficient. Keeping cold drinks on your menu will give customers options for spring and summer, steadying seasonal profit. Keep embracing the cool side of coffee, and your business will have a consistently-popular way of promoting itself to today’s customers.
For modern consumers, the word “milk” means much more than the traditional dairy beverage. Plant-based milk alternatives have become extremely popular over the past decade, and are now a big part of cafe menus. Milk alternatives are particularly successful with younger customers and those with allergenic or dietary restrictions. Offering plant-based milk substitutes opens up your business to these demographics, keeping your clientele broad, inclusive, and lucrative. It also provides new, distinct flavors to freshen up your product range!
In addition to its usefulness as a non-dairy coffee additive, plant-based milk can be utilised across your entire menu. The ingredients used to make milk alternatives – soy, almonds, potatoes – are already kitchen staples, making them ideal for baked goods. Milk alternatives are also an excellent resource for smoothies and blended brews. No matter where you’re using plant-based milk in your cafe, you’ll see success with it.
The cafe industry is changing with the times, and so is the way each store manages its day-to-day activities. In a world of delivery apps and digital ordering, coffee shops nationwide are embracing technology to adapt and succeed. Restaurant tech is critical during labour shortages and economic uncertainty – especially so in a cafe's fast, hectic flow. Adopting a streamlined digital management system can keep your back- and front-of-house under control, speeding up service and revenue.
Consider the various processes in your cafe that can be enhanced with technology. Managing and fulfilling orders – in-house and digital – can be made faster and more accurate with the right software. So can updating, editing, and publishing menus, which is usually a huge inconvenience in a busy coffee shop. Some restaurant solutions even help expedite in-house purchases, encouraging customers to order frequently. With a full-featured suite of restaurant software, maximising sales, profit, and customer satisfaction is easier than ever before.
The coffee shop business may be competitive, but there’s plenty of opportunity for savvy baristas to succeed. With these strategies, your store can start capitalising on 2023’s top cafe trends – and get a head start on 2024’s. Think outside the cup, and show customers that you’re passionate about winning their orders. Once you do, you won’t just be a successful coffee business – you’ll be an industry trend-setter.