This year marked the actual year when the film Back to the Future II took us to the future of 2015, seen from the perspective of 1985. Some things are hard to predict, some things become true because you predict them, i e you make them happen.
I was asked by a popular Swedish coffee blog to make some predictions for 2016 in terms of trends and things to happen in coffee. Since that is in Swedish, and I’ve done it before with little success (but fun to do anyway), here is some thoughts from that post on my own little blog.
First I’d like to say that a trend analysis over a single year is quite hard, since we’re mainly talking about Sweden here, and Swedes are, despite their own self bloated opinion, rather late in trends, which makes it hard to predict what are trends awaiting to hit Sweden, what are lasting trends and what are just flavors of a month or two. As an example we can use the Raw Food trend that’s been around forever in America and Australia, and has been adapted by people visiting or living there, but for businesses to pick up on it has been rather scarce. But last year and this year two serious Raw Food cafées opened up in Stockholm, which makes it almost so out of date it becomes something new here. This is how Sweden works most of the times.
I think one of the most obvious trends, and one I have been very happy to see grow in a fashion I predicted some years ago, is the focus on all produce in the café. We’re seeing more and more coffee centric cafés/bars focusing on their food, their tea, their soft drinks, their bread and so forth. Coming up with great combinations. I’d say one of the starting points was Kura Café (and before that it was Coco Vaja), where the typical Australasian style all day breakfast took people by storm. The real hype though, started by Joel Wredlert opening up Kafé Esaias, using stuff from his mothers garden to make delicious stuff. And since then, a lot of cafés have succesfully done the same. One of the explanations I find interesting is, that it makes it easier to explain coffee if you treat all produce with the same care. Something for restaurants to copy. What I am hoping for, and since this is a big thing in restaurants, is to see more decent non-beetroot-with-chevre-vegetarian-options. Also, the recently proclaimed death of the single brew will benefit the other focus I hope to see increase; service!
Another trend we’re see happening right now is that more and more people start to roast their own coffee. Five years ago a few roasteries provided most great cafés with their coffee. Then, as more and more roasteries emerged, there seemed to be no real increase in great cafés. Some of the better ones then started to buy from several roasteries instead (so called ‘multiple roaster shops’). Now we will definitely see some of the cafés start roasting their own. One of the other reasons beside a great interest in coffee and wanting to be closer to the greens, is that two roasters, Diedrich and Loring Smart Roast, both have established sales- and service conveniantly close to home for these new roasters (Diedrich in Stockholm and Loring in Copenhagen), making installation, maintenance and service a lot easier and thus more attractive. And quality green coffee importers such as Nordic Approach etc. so close at hand, makes it very easy for small businesses to find quality coffee rather easily.
For Sweden this is hopefully great news, since we see a lot of action now happening outside the major cities, which pushes café trends to further parts of Sweden unlike before. What I really hope is that this pushes to maintain or increase quality rather than spreading mixed messages, confusing ‘speciality’ with ‘micro’ and ‘local’. But it’s also a delicate matter of pricing. We’ve seen some unfortunate price dumping on the Speciality Market, and besides shooting themselves in the foot, the whole market is effected by this. Compromising coffee quality and sending mixed messages confuses the consumer and it will take years to repair.
Over time, I see two necessary developments in the coffee/café sector, that is crucial to pave new ways. The first is more chains. We have a quality chain in Sweden already (Espresso House, which with their new design of their shops should be called Faux Barrel), plus a few really poor ones. But we would need roasteries, like Da Matteo has done already, to establish more outlets for their own products in order to get the brand well known. The second is branding itself. Today most coffee brands are very generic, and with almost no exception whatsoever, their coffee bags looks like the equivalent of Bordeaux labels; conservative, generic information and trying to look as authentic, which is another word for boring, as possible. The beer- and wine industries have done wonders in combining great produce with great branding. A good example is the producer Charles Smith and his line of wines. We need to see more of this in order to gain the attention from regular consumers.
For myself, as I mentioned before, I hope there will be a great deal more focus on vegetarian options in cafés. I also believe strongly that tea will be of greater interest to the public. Two things I hope to see less of is the coffee shot inspired espresso and Kombucha.
NP: Pretty Maids – Future World