With coffee, guests want experiences

NORTHLAKE, TX—Founded in 1912, roaster, wholesaler and distributor Farmer Brothers Company owns several beverage brands, including Boyd’s Coffee, Collaborative Coffee, Un Momento and China Mist. CEO Mike Keown reflects on some of this year’s beverage trends and has some tips for hoteliers and staff for not only keeping up with guest demands, but creating memorable coffee experiences.

What do hotel guests expect from their coffee experience? We are seeing hotel properties requesting higher-quality coffee and tea options for in-room, in-lobby, and on-property restaurant use.

Additionally, guests have basic expectations around freshness, the availability of flavor options and the ability to customize with syrups, sweeteners, alternative milks and spices.

What are some trends you’re seeing in the hospitality space for 2019? Cold-brew coffee continues to grow in popularity. Additionally, we’re seeing an increase in flavored coffees, seasonal blends and customization options with alternative milks/creamers and syrups.

Millennials, in particular, are looking to feel connected to the products they consume. That means making a connection to the individual farmers or regions that the coffee is coming from.

What’s new in coffee? What’s unchanging? More and more hotel properties are enhancing the guest experience by offering coffee, tea, water and accompanying pastries or other food items. Additionally, we’re seeing espresso machines and nitro cold-brew options as innovative options. These additions add to the coffee drinking experience.

In-room, many properties are offering a better quality of coffee, using specialty coffees, with upscale properties including premium machines, cold-brew options, connectivity to Alexa or mobile phones and a more comprehensive selection of customization options.

Because hotel properties are unique to their geography, guest demographic and hotel brand, our business development managers work directly with property managers to develop a hot beverage service that will help create a great coffee drinking experience for their guests.

With local coffee, specifically, do you find that guests are requesting more of an experience when it comes to their beverage? Absolutely, and many mid- and upscale hotels are responding by creating a unique coffee drinking experience in their lobby cafés by offering specialty coffees, seasonal blends, ethically produced coffees and creating signature coffee drinks. As part of our service model, we can help with this by recommending specific blends and training café staff on the coffees they offer.

What do business guests expect vs. leisure guests when it comes to a coffee experience? At the end of the day, whether traveling for business or leisure, consumers tend to have the same expectation when it comes to their coffee experience. Business guests may have a more predictable routine like brewing a cup in their room and then getting a cup from the lobby or café when compared to leisure travelers. Regardless of this routine difference, the expectations between the two travelers remain similar—they expect a quality coffee with options and a customizability platform to be able to make that drink uniquely their own and enjoy it their way.

Coffee seems to be not just coffee anymore, but myriad roasts and brews. How do you accommodate guests’ many requests? As consumers become more sophisticated and educated about coffee, roasting and brewing, their preferences tend to narrow to specific roasts, origins and forms (i.e. cold brew, pour over, etc.). Our portfolio is constantly evolving to maintain an on-trend assortment to provide our customers with the necessary products to satisfy their consumer needs.

Iced and hot teas are gaining popularity in hotels

It seems millennials and Gen Z are chasing experiences rather than a product, so how do you provide them with that, and what tips do you have for hotels? That’s exactly the point. Younger consumers are seeking an experience. They don’t want to drink a cup of black coffee or a cup of black tea, they want to customize their drink to meet their needs, whether that’s complementing a meal, quenching thirst or enhancing an afternoon break time.

Today’s consumers are becoming more engaged with their beverages. Hotels can capitalize on this by creating that experience for their guests, whether it is showing guests stories about the farmers who grow the coffee beans, illustrating the sustainability of their coffee, having a barista demonstrate table-side pour-overs or educating servers about the flavor profiles and nuances.

We help properties achieve this through merchandising signage, education about coffee and specific blends, and training on specialty coffee equipment.

What about teas? What do guests expect? We’re seeing iced and hot tea become more important within the hospitality space. According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea consumption within the U.S. continues to grow, especially among younger adults. Much like coffee, this growth is motivated by consumers’ desire for new flavors, sustainable or natural products and specialty offerings.

Is there anything else readers should know about coffee trends for 2019? We believe the desire for traceable, sustainable and natural products will shape the beverage industry. Bean-to-cup machines will generate growth, as consumers want a fresher taste and a sustainable option outside of pods/single cups. 

Also, digital technology and customization of brewing equipment will deepen the connection of coffee to consumers. At the press of a button or a voice activation, a machine can produce a delicious hot or cold coffee beverage (drip or espresso) in a matter of seconds that would taste like a third wave coffeehouse beverage and could be easily customizable with several flavor options.

Properties should partner with a national provider who can deliver coffee and tea expertise, offer the benefits of nationwide distribution, work collaboratively to identify the best options for their hotel and provide training tools for your team on the most common drink types, including a latte, mocha
or cappuccino.

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