Office Coffee in 2016: What it Takes to Deliver a Winning Cup

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Our President of Office Coffee, Howard Chapman, discusses the future of office coffee and his thoughts on the industry's growth.

The future of coffee in 2016 - and beyond - is bright and brimming with opportunities for growth and innovation, especially as it relates to the coffee service channel. As the workplace of the future continues to be shaped by the needs of Generations X and Y, coffee service businesses have the chance to leverage those needs to truly enhance the quality and diversity of their products and services.

What was once a modest workplace perk has now grown into a highly-valued and sought after experience.

Employees are looking for the “coffee shop” experience in their break rooms and employers are happy to provide because it keeps their staff engaged and onsite while providing that much-needed break throughout the day.

Helping define these opportunities further are the trends we are seeing in the coffee service sector, most notably in the specialty brew arena. The coffee industry at large has moved far beyond the days of hot and black. Don’t get me wrong, I love a traditional cup of joe. But for those who are looking for more variety, or consider themselves coffee connoisseurs, there are many more options available, and it’s important for our channel to deliver those options in the workplace.

Today we are seeing everything from unique flavors and roasts to cold brew and nitrogen-infused coffee. Cold brew has been gaining popularity due to its sweeter taste, and the infusion of nitrogen makes a cup of coffee come alive. These premium options, which are served in local coffee shops at higher price points, can really amplify office coffee service, helping create that “coffee shop” experience.

I witnessed the true appeal of these innovative products at an appreciation brew event that our Royal Cup team recently hosted for one of our customers, a technology company. This company, which has to attract and retain the best and the brightest, offers an attractive suite of employee benefits including on site massages, professional development opportunities and,  you guessed it – high-end specialty coffee.

We served nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee and it was a huge hit with the employees. They went out of their way to voice their appreciation and it was evident that this upgraded experience made an impression on them – proving that we can “bring it” when it comes to delivering that coffee shop feel.

In addition to specialty flavors and brews, convenience is also a priority. Today’s (and very likely, tomorrow’s) workforce is fast-paced, and they appreciate instant gratification where they can get it – making single serve coffee one of the most popular options in the office. We are also seeing a dramatic resurgence of bean-to-cup brewers.  I think this is due in part to the technological ease of these brewers and also the lack of packaging waste, making them an environmentally friendly option.

The environment and sustainability will continue to be driving forces in the creation of products and services in our channel. Responsible sustainability programs are becoming a requirement for operators and many manufacturers are making efforts to reduce their environmental footprints through innovative packaging and purchasing coffee beans that are Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified.

At Royal Cup, we work closely with coffee farmers to ensure that we not only source high-quality coffee, but also to improve the lives of the farmers through our partnerships.  In addition, we have made significant progress with our emissions and have made a commitment to decrease waste to landfills in our headquarters and all 85 of our field warehouses. We want to ensure we continue to provide first-rate coffee products, while making a positive impact on our farming partners and our planet.

A line from Royal Cup’s mission states, “With excitement and optimism, we work towards the future” – it’s difficult not to be excited about the future of our channel. We are living in the golden age of specialty coffee in the workplace and the opportunities are endless. It is important for all of us in the industry to gain a deeper understanding of what our consumers want and to employ creativity and innovation in pushing our products and services to be their absolute best, in order to drive growth for our businesses. In looking at today’s trends and the needs of tomorrow’s workforce, it is clear that variety, convenience and sustainability are key factors in delivering a winning cup of coffee for customers in 2016 and beyond.

The previous article appeared in Coffee Talk's December 2015 issue

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