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Identifying trends, particularly before they’ve gained momentum can give you an advantage over other coffee shops slower to react to the changing demands of customers. Not only can it a unique edge (at least until they click on), but it allows you to set the standard, and provided you have the mentality of continuously improving your offering, constantly stay one step ahead of the competition. But sorting out genuine trends from short-term fads perhaps isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Anybody investing in Nitro Coffee equipment may be looking at a lengthy payback period – the product has struggled to gain traction outside of London. Whilst Cold Brew, not a million miles away from Nitro Coffee, seems to have carved out its place in the market and looks like it’s here to stay. 
On the back of the increasing popularity of vegetarian diets, milk alternatives are expected to become more and more popular. As consumers become increasingly concerned about health, quick wins in terms of simple diet changes are likely to manifest in a growing demand for alternatives to cow’s milk. OK, continuously improving your milk alternatives is going to be difficult, but failure to make this available to customers may quickly result in them going elsewhere.
The growth of the specialty market is certainly set to continue. The days of dark roasted, Italian style coffee are long gone, and any serious coffee business not investing in better quality beans is going to be in trouble. Having a thorough understanding of where your coffee is produced (not just the country, that won’t do anymore!), how it is processed and its taste profile is becoming more and more important to consumers. Understanding and promoting this sooner than your competition may quickly gain you a reputation as a speciality coffee shop and make you the place to go for anyone wanting a serious drop!
As with 2019, in-store experience is (in my opinion) the most important key factor for the majority of retail businesses. The issue has had more and more attention paid to it in recent years, but going forward any cafe, coffee shop or restaurant failing to properly understand and improve its entire customer journey is likely to fall into trouble. Customers want so much more than quick service and a friendly smile, and attention to all the details that make up every interaction the customer has with their cafe of choice needs to be thought through properly. Promotional materials, the temperature inside the building, staff conduct, product presentation and even the use of the restrooms; all these small things go on to shape the customer’s overall experience and ultimately how they rate you compared to others. For more information on this vital point, you might want to check out my earlier post on the subject. Either way, ignore this increasingly important trend at your peril!
Recognising and taking advantage of trends before they become ‘mainstream’ is by no means easy, but if you’re brave enough to get behind something before it does, and regularly improve upon it, it won’t take long before you notice a nice trend in your bottom line too : )

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