2016 Coffee Shop Trends

Coffee Shop TrendsEach year about this time, we forecast coffee shop trends for the coming year so our customers can position themselves for success. Whether you run a coffee shop, café, restaurant, kiosk or otherwise offer specialty coffees in your store, this list of 2016 coffee shop trends is for you.

Sense of Place

Everyone’s over the cookie-cutter cool that’s defined coffee shops for the last five years. You know the look: Blond wood, giant chalkboards, exposed pipe, Remy stools, vintage barn pendant lights.

As living and eating locally has become the trend du jour, consumers are more interested in neighborhood nostalgia and are looking for a coffee shops with an authentic sense of place. If your store is located on the site of an old barn or a school house, then go with that. If not, do some research to discover the look and feel that will give your store a sense of place like Amelie’s French Bakery in Charlotte, Wild Boar Café in Fort Collins or L’Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris.

Relatedly, nature will begin to take center stage inside coffee shops in 2016, and the color green will especially be on trend. In addition to coffee shops with outside garden spaces, don’t be surprised to see mixed-use greenhouse and botanical coffee shops popping up towards the end of the year.

Interactive Shops

Coffee shops have always been an easy place to socialize, whether your customers are on a first date, taking office work “off campus” or catching up with friends from across town. In 2016, stores will become even more interactive. Look for long-communal tables, sugar and milk served family style, and baristas who get out from behind the counter to interact with customers. Genius Bar-type brewing classes will become popular, as customers see coffee as more of an experience than a beverage. For inspiration, check out Pinewood Social in Nashville or Café Streets in Chicago.

Signature Blends

Nearly every store serves at least one “house special” coffee, whether its a flavored latte or a single-origin coffee. Baristas will start taking that trend to the next level in 2016 by becoming coffee mixologists. By mixing coffees from different places and different roast levels based on a customer’s flavor preferences, a barista will create a bespoke coffee blend for each customer. The result: a customer experience that can’t be replicated at any other store.

On Tap

2015 was the year that iced coffee took off, and this year it will be even bigger. Customers will enjoy cold coffee drinks straight from the tap like an up-scale bar or lounge, and Nitro coffee (that’s seeped coffee infused with odorless, flavorless nitrogen gas, kegged like beer and served on tap) will continue to be a big seller. In fact, this year you’re unlikely to find a successful coffee shop without a cold brew option (or two) behind the counter. Call to make an appointment at our Raleigh coffee roasting facilities to learn more about cold coffee beverages for your store.

Flavors, Flavors

Once considered the ugly stepchild of coffee, flavored coffee has become hot. In fact, Mintel Research reports that sales of flavored coffee are up 15%, with dessert flavored coffees leading the way. Put all the dessert-flavored coffees into a bucket, and sales are up a whopping 800% since 2010, Mintel research reveals. As we move into summer, which is the season for iced coffee, expect to see cold flavored coffees on tap, in frappes and on ice.

Mixed Use

Shops that focus on coffee have usually found that sales dip considerably from about 5pm onwards. That has prompted many stores to offer alternative evening and night time menus that entice morning customers back after dark. Applying for a liquor license and offering wine and cocktails is one popular choice. But other ideas include adding fresh baked breads like our customer Great Harvest Breads of Greenville, NC or chocolates like Chocolate Café in Southbend, IN or Cocoabar in New York City. The Office Coffee Shop in Detroit adroitly combines a coffee shop with a for-rent workspace; look for more work/coffee combinations and other mixed-use retail/coffee concepts.

All Wet

Well trained baristas know that water quality is one of the most important, yet overlooked, elements of coffee brewing. So in 2016, water will get its due attention. Check out the water tasting menu at 3FE in Dublin, Ireland and Maxwell Colonna Dashwood and Christopher H. Hendon’s book, ‘Water for Coffee.’ Stockton Graham & Co. offers training programs for owners, baristas and staff that address water quality, as well as the other five essentials of brewing great coffee.

Bitter: Sweet

Coffee has been traditionally served with sweet foods like cookies, chocolate and pie, of course. But 2016 will recognize an evolution in customers’ palates. Tropical Island Coffee & Café in Winchester, VA serves coffee with spicy jerk chicken and plantains while Chef Booj Supe of Gourmet Garage pairs a medium roast with mushroom and cheese risotto. Coffee shop trends will increasingly involve menu innovations and deconstructed classics.

To talk to a sales associate about how you can integrate any of these coffee shop trends into your business, call us at 800 835 5943.