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In the specialty coffee community, the word bitter is what everyone is trying to avoid when it comes to the taste of the coffee. In this article, however, we will use it as a description of the current state of the coffee business during these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Europe and in the US (the biggest consumers of coffee in the world) many coffee shops, bars, and restaurants needed to close doors because of the pandemic. This fact alone meant weeks, even months with no revenues for many of these businesses. The end consumers were forced to change their habits. It was no longer an option for them to go to their favourite coffee places, but they kept the habit of drinking coffee every day. Coffee roasters started having significantly less demand for coffee serving businesses. Coffee growers have made significant investments into producing good quality beans, only to fail to sell it to a market that suddenly changed from one day to another.
Adapting to changes
Change is the only constant. We as consumers, roasters, business owners have to adapt to any changes, even as serious and unexpected as the current COVID-19 crisis. Coffee places started offering their products “to take away”, with free delivery and on discount. Some of them were forced into offering supermarket type of goods just so they can survive. Nobody blames them for this, exceptional times require creative measures. End consumers started drinking more coffee at home. Most of them were not going out or to the office, but the habit of having their favourite hot beverage remained. The specialty coffee drinkers decided to find out ways of preparing a cup of joe from the comfort of their home. We have seen a large number of folks realizing that they can do that as well as a professional barista for a fraction of the price they would pay in a café. In no way we are suggesting it is easy, but it´s not nuclear physics either. Roasters saw an opportunity in this new habit. Not only they created amazing promotions for the delivery of great coffees, but they could equip any amateur home barista with all the tools needed for making a fantastic coffee without setting foot outside their houses.
We see an emerging trend of home baristas, buying coffee directly from roasters. Nevertheless, coffee places will continue to innovate and become more and more creative in order to attract customers. After all, you don´t go to a café just because of the quality of the coffee. In fact, the majority of coffee shop customers go there for the experience, to have a delicious coffee in a nice atmosphere, to meet up with friends, to try a coffee method they wouldn´t usually make at home i.e. nitro cold brew. Coffee producers will always find a market for their product, because pandemic or not, the world will not just stop having its favourite drink.
Life is short. Get a good coffee