Bubbling Up: Focus on Beverage Machines

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13/10/2017 - 11:34
Hot beverages figure large in the daily life of British people and so does quality, choice and novelty. Kathy Bowry reports on the latest trends and technologies that enable caterers to slake that thirst.

Britain’s appetite for coffee shops continues, affirms Trish Caddy, foodservice analyst at Mintel, commenting on findings the pollster published back in April.

The report found that visiting coffee shops is a routine ritual that is ensuring Britain’s coffee shop culture is “full of beans”.

According to Mintel, the UK coffee shop market has enjoyed its biggest period of growth since 2008, when it was valued at £2.2 billion.

“Over the past five years, the market rose by 37%, up from £2.4 billion in 2011 to reach an impressive £3.4 billion in 2016,” says Caddy. “What is more, between 2015 and 2016 sales increased by a spectacular 10.4% – the biggest year-on-year boost witnessed in the last five years.

“It seems the market is brewing up for further success, as over the next five years coffee shop sales are forecast to jump a further 29%, reaching a heart-stopping £4.3 billion.

Caddy says the country’s insatiable appetite for coffee is highlighted by the fact that two-thirds (65%) of all Brits have visited a coffee shop in the past three months, adding that coffee shop usage peaks among consumers aged 16-24 (73%). However, in a space traditionally dominated by specialist coffee retailers, Caddy notes that as many as 44% of Brits buy their hot drinks from non-specialists.

“Much of the growth we’ve seen in recent years is driven by habitual coffee drinkers and the continually increasing number of coffee retailers that are now ubiquitous on British high streets,” she says.

“A raft of non-specialist venues that feature barista-style coffee on their menus with takeaway functions are grabbing a slice of the coffee shop market.

“In the future, the top end of the market will continue to face intense competition from big pub chains, fast food chains and bakery shops that have now encroached on the coffee shop market, competing in terms of price, convenience and even geographical reach.”

Caddy adds that in reaction to [chk] ‘disruptors’ such as JD Wetherspoon, which is playing on price with £1 tea and coffee in takeaway cups, a new age of price-led coffee shops has emerged, with easyCoffee as the front-runner.

“Across the market, coffee shops are making efforts to cut down on packaging waste as well as to reduce added sugar to appease public concerns,” she says. [chk2]

Of course, the high street continues to be the biggest competitor for the ‘cost sector pound’, but a £1 coffee offering means a lot of cups need to be sold [chk3], so any new trend is worth investigating because not only is it wise to spike the enemy’s guns whenever possible, it is also an opportunity to add value to a purchase, and thereby cream off some profit.

Bubble tea is the latest in a long line of speciality drinks that the British pubic is keen to suck up (through the obligatory fat straw). More akin to a milkshake, bubble tea has crept into the UK from Asia, more specifically Taiwan, via the US and Australia.

It follows hard on the heels of other vogues such as chai, flat white and cold-brewed coffee, to name just three, and can be made from fruit teas or milk-based teas, with syrups and black tapioca ‘pearls’ added to the mix. Or you can just buy a ready-made powder.

Bubble tea can be served hot or cold, with the bubbles created by vigorous shaking.

Bubbleicious Tea, which supplies bubble tea and the equipment to make and serve it, explains the drink was originally made by vigorously flourishing a cocktail shaker to create the foam and bubbles.

“If you are doing this 100 times a day you are most likely going to get tired – and probably get very big muscles,” says XXXXX XXXXXX, XXXXXXX XXXXX at Bubbleicious Tea. “A shaking machine will save time as it can shake two cups at once and you can prepare other things while the drinks are being shaken.

The company says, however, that some cafes use blenders to blitz the tea, which has the same effect.

“Whichever way you choose will depend on your operation and how you sell your bubble tea. However, you may not have enough space for several blenders or may find a shaking machine more efficient as you only need to change shakers (not clean the blender every time) for each drink.”

The Dasin SK300 two-cup bubble tea shaker form Bubbleicious Tea weighs in at £899 with an auto cup-sealing machine topping out at £799 [chk 4]. Customers simply poke the straw through the plastic to drink the contents, or the drink can be decanted into branded, domed, clear-plastic cups.

If a blender is a more practical option, the Hamilton Beach Commercial Eclipse from FEM features QuietBlend and technology that reduces the noise level to 60-70dB, the same as normal conversation.

Meanwhile, Manitowoc Bite Sized Nugget icemakers, also from FEM, produce ice that can go straight into chilled or blended drinks. Due to its soft, chewable texture, nugget ice is kinder on blender blades, meaning operators can whip up chilled, blended drinks easily, quickly and quietly, says Manitowoc.

From fancy bubble teas to fresh fruit teas and perfectly blended coffees, Helen Applewhite, marketing manager at Lincat, believes businesses need a good variety on their drinks menus to attract custom.

However, she adds: “Although having a good selection of hot beverages is important, no drink will taste good without high-quality water.

“Hot drinks, especially tea, taste so much better if they are made from filtered water, which is free from contaminants. The easiest way to achieve that is to invest in an automatic-fill water boiler with built-in filtration, such as one from Lincat’s extensive FilterFlow range.

“The filter cartridge is as easy to change as a light bulb, with no need to disconnect the water supply or seek the help of a service engineer or plumber. All FilterFlow water boilers are highly energy-efficient and cheaper to use than a kettle.”

Miles Dawson, sales director, Brita Professional, also stresses the advantages of water filtration for any hot beverage, adding: “What’s really key to water filtration being effective is proper maintenance and exchange of your cartridge.

“Just having a filter installed isn’t enough – you have to exchange it regularly, and on time, to keep coffee (and other drinks) at its best and equipment protected.”

Meanwhile, David Watts, Buffalo brand manager for Nisbets, says: “Nothing could ever cool our nation’s love for hot drinks, so as consumers look for an ever-wider range of hot beverages, it’s vital that operators capitalise on this profitable trend by getting the basics right: ensuring they have a reliable source of hot water for serving traditional teas and coffees and more modern beverages, such as fruit infusions or flavoured green teas.

Watts continues: “The British-made Buffalo 10Ltr Autofill Water Boiler with Filtration boasts 3kW heating elements that create an impressive output of 30 litres (around 130 cups) an hour, so operators can be confident that customers won’t be kept waiting, even during peak periods.”

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