Coffee-to-go is a big success story for Hull-based Sewell on the go. The Top 50 Indie has 16 machines across its 12 sites with the busier sites having two or even three machines.

Operations director, David Craven-Jones, explains: "Costa is a good fit for us and our customers love it. Coffee is in fact now one of our biggest categories in-store. Some of our sites are not as strong as others but all have Costa because we want our customers to see the same offer across the company."

Costa is indeed one of the biggest success stories in the hot drinks to-go category. Since its launch in 2011, the Costa Express format has seen phenomenal growth and today boasts over 5,500 coffee bars serving over 80 million cups of coffee every year, across 10 international markets. This puts Costa Express on track to deliver its target of 8,000 machines by 2020.

Meanwhile, Costa Coffee operates over 3,000 coffee shops across 32 international markets, and has just opened its first drive-thru format at a British motorway service area at Roadchef’s Rownhams East site in Hampshire. And, to help ensure excellent customer service, Costa’s reigning global ’Barista of the Year’ and Roadchef employee, Klara Rohel, has been responsible for the training programme devised for her colleagues there.

Costa’s success across its different trading formats is all to do with consistency of product and service. So just like in its stores, Costa Express uses Costa’s original Mocha Italia recipe roasted in Old Paradise Street, London. Costa says its self-serve coffee bars "expertly combine high-quality coffee and fresh milk with leading technology, making it the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to ensure coffee lovers enjoy a delicious cup of barista-style Costa Coffee on the go". And, according to Ideas & Visions independent research carried out last autumn, 84% agreed that the Express coffee tastes as good as in Costa’s stores.

The latest ’Express delivery’ from Costa is the Marlow coffee bar, which has been designed to engage the customer in all five senses to gives the full barista-style experience:

Sight Costa collaborated with legendary Italian design house Pininfarina (they’ve worked with Ferrari, Alpha Romeo and Maserati) to give the coffee bars their elegant, sleek and sophisticated image.

Touch the bars have a 27-inch, high- definition touch screen display; and the company worked with a team of interactive specialists including gaming experts Atomhawk (who worked on The Lord of the Rings) to create a rich user interface.

Sound Costa wanted to recreate the atmosphere of one of its lively high-street coffee shops so worked with eMixpro (they’ve worked with U2, Katy Perry and the Rolling Stones) to create an evocative soundtrack, complete with the tinkle of a spoon against a china cup.

Smell technology diffusion system expert Scentys was asked to create the aroma of a Costa coffee shop.

Taste the Marlow bars allow customers to customise their favourite drinks with flavoured syrups such as vanilla, hazelnut and gingerbread.

However, it’s not just Costa that’s been investing in new machines, Tchibo is busy launching Premio. With 100% Arabica beans and the choice of fresh milk or a cappuccino topping, the Premio is said to deliver high-quality speciality coffees including lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos. In addition, the Premio delivers hot chocolate and tea, with a total of eight drink options in two different sizes.

The machine itself features an easy-to-clean stainless steel counter and an easy-to-use seven-inch touch screen user interface. Tchibo says it’s ideal for sites selling 20-plus cups per day.

Mohammed Farooq of Summit Service Station in Stadhampton doesn’t have the new Premio yet but is happy with his current Tchibo machine. He says: "We love the Tchibo concept because we have complete control of our profits. Our key account manager (Tony Lewis) is great to work with and our customers love the coffee. "The machine is very straightforward for customers to use thanks to its touch-screen menu. Plus it’s easy for the staff to keep clean.

"We average around 100 cups a day and our most popular drink is a regular latte which we sell for £2.20."

Great match

Lee Whiteman of Jet Cotgrave Service Station in Nottingham, says he chose to go with Expresso Plus as the brand is a great match for his site’s profile and fits well with its customer demographic. "We sell around 30 cups of coffee daily, so I don’t think we would have met the required performance levels of some of the bigger names in the coffee industry.

"Through Expresso Plus I chose a Nescafé coffee machine it’s a popular and trusted brand that definitely appeals to our customers. Its distinctive branding looks great in-store. Most importantly though, as a coffee lover, the quality is fantastic and quality was a critical factor for me when choosing who to partner with. I even went to London just to try out the coffee and, fortunately, was very impressed. I’m glad to say that my customers feel the same way too and comment on the great taste and appearance, as well as how quickly their drinks are ready."

Lee says maintenance is a breeze: "It’s not a bean-to-cup machine, which helps in terms of ease of use and maintenance. The machine was installed last November and it hasn’t once broken down or been out of order. It’s quick and easy to fill up and, due to its design, there’s very little mess around the machine so staff don’t have to spend lots of time cleaning up the area."

Of course, Jet recently announced a new partnership with Expresso Plus, which saw the launch of the Snack-on-the-go concept. Lee thinks a lot of dealers will take up the benefits made available through the partnership. "It’s a fantastic idea as smaller sites often aren’t familiar with these types of supply partners or simply wouldn’t have the buying power that a larger site or group dealer would. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have found Expresso Plus were it not for Jet introducing them to me."

The partnership between the two companies started last year, when Jet introduced Expresso Plus coffee-to-go solutions to its sites.

It soon became apparent that this could be enhanced by offering a food-to-go initiative alongside it.

Now available to all existing and new Jet sites, the ’Snack on the Go’ display unit can be customised to fit a store’s available space (minimum 1sq m). As well as a Lavazza coffee machine, dealers can choose to add display areas for hot food, sweet treats and chilled items. Dealers receive expertise from Expresso Plus and Country Choice to ensure the products they display and sell will appeal to their customer base from a vast range of high-quality hot and chilled items supplied by Country Choice. The ’Snack on the Go’ units can be branded to a dealer’s requirements, if they wish to do so, and are designed to be flexible so can be adapted at a later date if required.

Stuart Cufflin, transport and retail contracts manager at Jet, comments: "We’re always looking to help dealers drive footfall onto their forecourts and we believe ’Snack on the Go’ will do just that. With the continued trend towards forecourts becoming convenience destinations, coffee and food-to-go present strong commercial opportunities that dealers can and should be taking advantage of.

"We spoke to a number of other hot drink and food-to-go experts, but ultimately Expresso Plus came up with what we believe is the best solution for our network. Jet is all about providing our dealers with choice and ’Snack on the Go’ is a good example of this. It’s a great business opportunity for dealers and can be adapted to suit their location and customer demographic both now and in the future."

Lauren Tyler, marketing manager, at Expresso Plus, adds: "The demand for food-to-go in the convenience sector has seen 33% year-on-year growth. Breakfast-to-go has seen the highest increase with 64% of consumers buying a hot drink with their purchase (Allegra data). Forecourts are ideally placed to capitalise on this trend and that’s why we’re delighted to have teamed up with Jet for the launch of ’Snack on the Go’. Offering consumers well-known and high-quality brands such as Lavazza and Country Choice strengthens this concept even further and we’re confident that those Jet dealers who choose to introduce ’Snack on the Go’ will see their shop sales increase."

In addition to the link-up with Jet dealers, Expresso Plus is this month launching a new coffee solutions range called Prontissimo. It’s a Columbian Arabica blend with 10% finely ground roasted coffee beans and as such is Lavazza’s first microground coffee. It has been available in major supermarkets since last year and Tyler says it has been a big hit with shoppers.

The range includes different solutions: self-serve towers, which offer a coffee shop experience with a complete hot drinks menu; self-serve table tops, which offer the same coffee shop experience for those with limited space; front-of-house catering machines, producing high- quality hot drinks in under 14 seconds; and a back-of-house catering machine ideal for bulk brewing.

Meanwhile, if space is an issue for you, then the Nescafé&Go machine could be the answer, as it measures just 485mm wide x 623mm high x 386mm deep. It’s a simple solution as you just have to plug it in, fill it up and you’re ready to go. Nestlé says the 4.2ltr water tank (equivalent to 15 cups’ worth) is easy to fill and to empty and descale. It costs £99 plus VAT and £9.93 delivery.

The good thing about this machine is the branded drinks it offers household names including Nescafé Gold Blend black and white coffee; Nescafé Cappuccino; Nescafé Latte; Aero Hot Chocolate; and Tetley Tea. Rrp for the drinks is £1.10.

Ice try

If you don’t stock iced coffee perhaps now is the time to try. That’s because according to Project Iced 2016 UK, the latest report from Allegra World Coffee Portal, the UK iced beverage market is currently estimated to be worth £265m and with 8% sales growth year-on-year, it is an important sales driver for the coffee shop market.

The research found that 63% of consumers have tried an iced beverage out of home and the most popular is ice blended coffee.

And the market shows no signs of slowing, with 78% of consumers indicating that their iced beverage consumption will remain the same over the next 12 months, and 17% stating that their consumption will increase.

David Matthews, head of UK platform at Café Royal, says that consumption of iced coffee has tended to rely on seasonal demand so the notoriously bad UK weather has led to smaller sales than in Western Europe.

"However, adventurous consumers are now more willing to try new types of coffee at any time of the year and this has led to a boom in the UK’s iced coffee market. Volume is rapidly approaching the 10 million-litre mark, with volumes forecast to triple in the next five years. This achievement has been supported by the long-standing consumer interest in coffee, fuelled by the launch of a variety of new products in this sector."

Matthews says there are two distinct types of iced coffee: those which are milk-based and those with a much higher coffee content. The latter appeals to younger people who are looking for a caffeine-boost alternative to energy drinks.

"To the uninitiated, iced coffee may just sound like a cold cup of coffee, but as consumers become more familiar with coffee culture and the choice on offer, it is likely that awareness of iced coffee, and its variants, will increase."

Café Royal offers four flavours of iced coffee (Classic Macchiato, Caramel Macchiato, Double Creamy and Extra Strong) with packaging aimed very much at a younger audience.

Two have extra caffeine added and one has an added dose of guarana to provide an energy boost.

Matthews says one theory for iced coffee’s popularity among young people is that having been raised on ice-cold soft drinks, they want to integrate this into their coffee-drinking experience.

"The recent rise of energy drinks may also have something to do with it. As an ice-cold drink with a serious pick-me-up that is served ready to go, iced coffee offers most of the same benefits as market-leading energy drinks with the added bonus of not tasting like carbonated cough syrup. The appeal of iced coffee has also been given a dramatic boost among younger consumers in recent years as celebrities such as Harry Styles share their love of the beverage on social media."

The product itself is handled through the ambient supply chain but has to be marketed within the chilled cabinet.

"It is a ready-to-drink product and the assumption is that the customer will consume it almost immediately after purchase. It should therefore be chilled to be drank at its best," says Matthews.

coffee cup storm

Disposable coffee cups became a contentious issue this summer thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste programme on BBC1. The chef highlighted the fact that more than 5,000 coffee cups are thrown away every minute in the UK but less than 1% of these are being recycled, due to the cups’ material and limitations on what can actually be recycled. The coffee chains were quick to respond, with Costa highlighting its commitment to the ’war on waste’ by encouraging customers to take their own cups into stores; recycling at its head office with recycling trials in 50 stores; investing £100,000 in cup recycling research; and becoming the first signatory of the Paper Cup Manifesto, a partnership of businesses, recyclers, suppliers and the public to increase the recovery and recycling of paper cups.

coffee alternatives

Rebel Kitchen specialises in providing tasty alternatives for those who want to enjoy coffee-based products that are free from dairy and contain no refined sugar, additives or preservatives. The company’s Coffee Mylk, made with spring water, organic coconut milk, organic date nectar and organic coffee is described as a coffee fix, only lighter and healthier. It comes in 330ml Tetra-pak cartons, rrp £1.89.
Then there’s coffee-flavoured Dairy Free Organic Coconut Yogurt, made with organic raw coconut meat, coconut blossom nectar, coffee and live vegan yogurt cultures
It is said to be lower in calories and fat than any other coconut yogurts on the market because Rebel Kitchen uses the meat from young green coconuts, not the milk (which comes from mature coconuts). Each 125g serve contains around 145 calories. Rrp is £2.49.