June 2, 2021 Copy Link

Recently, our very own co-founder Kyle Brown was part of an exciting discussion on the Coffee Industry and the pandemic at the 2021 RC Show ONLINE LIVE. Kyle was joined by Catherine Crozier, Chair of the Coffee Association of Canada (CAC), Sam Heath, the Head of Retail for Tim Hortons and Robert Carter, President of the CAC and the StratonHunter Group. Many different topics were touched on from the production of coffee, to the rate of consumption throughout the pandemic, as well as how brick and mortar restaurants have been impacted over the last year.

One aspect of the coffee industry that did remain steady was the rate of consumption. People still needed their caffeine fix whether they were at home or not. What was devastatingly impacted, however, was the decrease in coffee shop sales and revenue due to various stay-at-home orders and lockdowns. Our data shows that 5,800 restaurant locations across North America permanently closed in the first 3 months of 2021. With over 10,000 closing their doors permanently throughout all of 2020.

With the closing of a significant number of brick-and-mortar shops also comes the evolution of coffee shops moving deeper into the specialty coffee field. If people cannot come into the physical coffee shops, then let’s bring the product and services directly to their home. In addition to this shift in the industry, we also saw a huge spike in experimentation and an increase in specialty coffee variations. With drive-thrus still open, many coffee providers felt there was an opportunity to deliver new products to their customers to keep them coming back.

As Kyle noted in the discussion, this new adaption within the coffee industry is surely going to extend itself outside of the QSR shops and take root throughout the rest of the restaurant landscape. Our data also shows that with the expansion of coffee variations being brought into the restaurant world, menu items will begin incorporating coffee as an ingredient in many dishes as well as cocktails. More so than ever before. This will, in turn, increase the overall consumption rates of coffee and boost the worldwide industry.

In conclusion to Kyle, Catherine, Sam and Robert’s discussion, the panellists all agreed that two key elements have protected the coffee industry against the negative impacts of the pandemic: adaption and innovation. If the industry can continue to move forward in unique and creative ways, carving out specialty niches for itself along the way, it will only continue to grow!