Drink big: How to lure wary customers back in with breakfast beverages

07 August 2020 by

Breakfast beverages present the perfect opportunity to get customers back through the doors and kickstart your profits. Anne Bruce discovers the latest trends for tea and coffee.

A s the hospitality sector wakes up from the coronavirus lockdown, it figuratively needs a good strong coffee or a sweet cup of tea to bring it round. Breakfast beverages present the ideal mechanism to get customers back through the doors and back into old favourite eating-out routines.

So now, more than ever, there's a lot riding on breakfast drinks, be it hot or cold options. Get it right and customers will come back again and again, spending across the morning menu, and bringing their friends, too.

But with a socially distanced environment and huge operational changes to manage, it's easy to get things wrong. So, what are the top tips from suppliers on trends and tactics to make sure your breakfast beverages offer is up to scratch?

Hygiene and safety

Turning first to the elephant in the room: in the current climate with the threat of coronavirus ever-present, hygiene has to be the number one priority.

Kimbo's commercial manager Damon Wilson comments that every café, restaurant and foodservice provider needs to create a space for customers and employees that is both safe and sanitised, while appearing non-threatening, especially for those who are just coming to terms with leaving the comfort of their home.

Now is the time to introduce innovative merchandising products to ensure that drinks are presented in a safe and super-hygienic manner, argues Simon Edwards, managing director of Generation Juice. The company has launched AirFrame Technology, which allows customers to "tap the air" for a touch-free dispense. The risks of open jugs, dispense taps and touchscreens as a major preventable source of coronavirus are removed, he says.

Streamlining menus

Offering a reduced menu that is executed flawlessly is the way forward in the current environment, says David Cutler, head of training and brand ambassador at Lavazza. Key to this is staff training, which should not be neglected in the "new normal", as consistent, good-quality drinks are impossible to replicate without having strong training in place.

He advises that when streamlining menus, outlets should first look to pre-Covid breakfast sales statistics. Less popular beverages, those with a lower gross profit and those that were complicated to execute consistently should be removed, particularly as takeaway becomes more prominent. A good range should include tried-and-tested classic selections, such as good-quality espresso and milk-based recipes.

A streamlined menu should also prompt operators to review their ingredients, says Rebecca Rayner, director of Glebe Farm Foods: "Delivering the same quality of beverage under time pressure calls for ingredients that are reliable and perform time and time again as well as meeting trends and satisfying customer demands."

Tetley's Decaf
Tetley's Decaf

Michelle Jee, Tetley's senior brand manager for out of home, explains that consumers are more likely to drink tea with breakfast than any other hot beverage, demonstrating that an extensive menu is not vital for securing revenue. However a recent YouGov poll in March 2019 found that 28% of customers are dissatisfied with the tea that they are served out of home, explains Natalie King, out of home manager at Taylors of Harrogate, emphasising the importance of nailing the basics. This disappointment was often due to foodservice providers using ‘one cup' teabags, which contain less tea than standard-sized teabags. Yorkshire Tea does not produce one cup teabags, offering a stronger brew that is more recognisable to the tea customers enjoy at home. The hygienic, individually wrapped teabags are also ideal for hotel breakfast bars, King says.

Innovation and premiumisation

While a shorter menu will allow operators to cut costs, the beverages arena is trend-driven and something new or premium on the menu board is a great opportunity to drive traffic again and create value.

Dalgona, whipped coffee with the milk on the bottom, went viral during the lockdown, according to search data from Google Trends. ‘Dalgona coffee' has become the most-searched type of coffee worldwide, overtaking previous highest peaks for all other kinds of coffee. Offering Dalgona or a similarly trendy item, such as bubble tea, adds excitement and can have a halo effect on the menu.

While many consumers are mindful of their spending, it could be assumed that premium drinks will be on the out. But where consumers are looking to ‘treat' themselves to a beverage made out of home, they will be looking for something they can't make in their own kitchen. "There are many ways to increase hot beverage sales, including the introduction of different blends and premiumisation of the offering," Lavazza's David Cutler explains.

There are many ways to increase hot beverage sales, including the introduction of different blends and premiumisation of the offering

James Brett, head of shopper marketing at Twinings Foodservice, cites recent research from consultancy Allegra Strategies that found that giving consumers an individualised, quality tea experience, just by letting them brew their drink how they like it, generated around an extra 60p cash margin per drink.

"It's important that operators offer something a little different to tempt the tea consumer. Businesses have the opportunity to really drive sales in this area by offering an extensive range of speciality herbal and fruit teas alongside the more traditional black and green options," he comments.

With safety measures in place across the industry, and with a socially distanced queue more likely, menu boards and price lists in windows are now playing a more important role in marketing. Operators can make the most of this space by highlighting and including photography of premium products, encouraging customers to upgrade their choice of drink, says Rebecca Rayner, director of Glebe Farm Foods.

Health and wealth

At Tetley, Jee says that the health trend is increasing sales with consumers opting for drinks with functional benefits at all times of the day, including breakfast. Decaffeinated products could also be a popular choice, and caterers can capitalise on the 18.8% decaf growth (SalesOut to April 12 2020).


To capitalise on this interest in health, Twinings has a new range for the foodservice sector, Superblends, which have either a fruity or green tea base with an added vitamin or mineral to support health and wellbeing.

Health can be a sales driver on cold drinks, too. Edwards of Generation Juice says customers are favouring drinks with immune-boosting ingredients such as echinacea and zinc.


Juice and smoothie company Coldpress has seen a boom in sales in recent times, says founder Andrew Gibb. Interest grew as the government's Scientific Advisory Committee on nutrition is looking at the research linking vitamin deficiencies with poor Covid-19 recovery, he says. Coldpress' range of drinks provide between 20% and 65% of the recommend daily amount of vitamins B,C,D and E.

And as consumers look to make healthier breakfast choices, breakfast drinks can be a consideration. Cereal drink C'go is the equivalent of a bowl of wholegrain cereal and milk, served in a bottle.


The rise of vegan eating and sustainability issues are further food trends to reflect on in the breakfast beverages menu. Rayner of Glebe Farm Foods says that according to recent Mintel data, almost a quarter of Brits are now consuming plant-based alternatives to milk. As such, it is key for caterers and cafés to invest in dairy-free alternatives to meet the needs of flexitarian customers. Glebe offers PureOaty, an oat milk made from gluten-free British oats, that can be steamed to form a foam that won't split or curdle when added to espresso.

PureOaty hot chocolate
PureOaty hot chocolate

For those who like an indulgent hot chocolate, Anna Sentance, gourmet marketing manager, Callebaut UK and Ireland says non-dairy alternatives work well with its chocolate beverage products range.

Callebaut and Van Houten offer ground chocolate, cocoa mass, catering-sized and single-serve packs of Callebaut's signature callets, which are chocolate chips formulated for melting rather than baking, and single-origin powders.

Callebaut ground chocolate
Callebaut ground chocolate

Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate have just become 100% carbon neutral from field to shelf, setting up projects that offset carbon and improve lives and livelihoods of farmers.

While last year saw a boom in the use of reusable cups, in recent times many operators will have turned back to disposable for hygiene reasons. But customers will still be looking for environmental credentials – manufacturer Huhtamaki UK has recently launched paper cups that use 25% less material than most other smooth-walled, double and triple-walled cups on the market, says Becci Eplett, marketing manager.


Whether you're serving yours in a bottle or a paper cup or a china mug, putting together a brilliant range of breakfast drinks will get the day's trading off with a buzz.


C'go drinks www.cgodrinks.com

Coldpress www.cold-press.com

Generation Juice www.generationjuice.co.uk

Glebe Farm Foods www.glebefarmfoods.co.uk

Huhtamaki www.huhtamaki.com

Lavazza www.lavazza.co.uk

Taylors of Harrogate www.taylorsofharrogate.co.uk

Tetley www.tetleyteaacademy.co.uk

Twinings Foodservice www.twinings.co.uk/food-service

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