Not really very exciting, the word for something we should enjoy, in some instances get quite passionate about and probably our daily rituals are defined by?

Beverages, probably don’t include ‘drink’ the word we reserve for alcohol. As if that is a different category. In days gone past, before we had safe and drinkable water, beer was the dilutable of choice. Alcohol was a way of preserving and making safe beverages.

Tea and coffee have long since taken over, subsided and now resurged. It wasn’t that many years ago that talk was of coffee and tea going out of fashion with younger people turning to other beverages; juices, smoothies, cordials and then, alco-pops being the threat.

Now tea and coffee couldn’t be more popular. The reinvention of coffee shops into fashionable meeting spots has heralded new drinks. In fact, calling them coffee shops is probably unfair, given they don’t sell many traditional coffees, have invented their own (and copyrighted) drinks menus.

Scourge of the high street, new coffee shops were taking over from charity shops as the barometer for failing high streets. Turns out they are the saviours. They attract people to high streets, create a better environment and encourage people to hang around to potentially shop.

coffee Plantation shot

generic coffee shop?

The future looks good for beverages. New small and innovative companies are competing with the big companies. Often the market prefers the new, different, innovations and they seem to come from the smaller or new companies. Australia, US are often setting the trends, Europe hasn’t really invested anything since they had yoghurt drinks with questionable health claims?

Beverages, a whole new world of tastes and experiences and a source of constant innovation.

coffee mug syrupodic 1.jpg

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How far would you go to choose a better diet?

The controversial subject of calories, their intake and striking a balance.

A simple equation is calories in v calories out equals whether you gain or lose weight.  And no, this isn’t award winning science but….

What gets measured get managed is the old saying.  The fashion of wearing tech or using apps on mobile phones that report on our steps, runs, cycle rides, sleep etc. means we are suddenly much more aware of how active, inactive or frankly, how fat we might be getting.

Generalising, the biggest contribution of calories to our diet is usually alcohol.  So if you are worried about calories then put the glass of wine down.  However, just going low alcohol doesn’t mean you will consume less calories.  I was shocked to find that the quite palatable low-alcohol cider I had swapped to contained just as many calories, simply because the alcohol was reduced by the inclusion of apple juice in the drink.

So, if we want to eat and drink what we like we should consider expending these calories to remain in balance for intake and expenditure of calories?

Using the tech solution I calculated my personal distance for a range of beverages.  Being a fairly average chap these will not be very different for anyone else.

calories v distance

Now I think of these as the distance I should have to travel to and from (walking) the coffee shop or pub.  These are no great distances either and whilst putting some drinks into context, it doesn’t solve the problem of obesity.  That is the point, no one thing will fix the obesity problem.

The Royal College of Physicians was recently advocating putting labels on foods to highlight how much exercise would be required to burn off the calories contained in the food or drink.  Good idea? Well, maybe if it means us consumers all understand the relative impact of different foods.  But, surely we need more information.

Nutrition, the clue is in the name, ought to be about what we SHOULD be consuming and less perhaps about what we should NOT be consuming?  If we had an information system that delivers what nutrients we should seek every day from our food and show which foods are ‘nutrient dense’ we might automatically avoid the foods and drinks that do not contribute to our nutrient needs?  This would mean the milky coffee with sugar or syrups in a coffee shop would score more highly than the alcoholic drink or zero sugar coke because litre for litre the milky drink has protein, fat, vitamins, etc that are in neither the coke or the alcoholic drink.  Better still, the cheese that gets a red label normally because of its high fat content, is reappraised as a nutrient dense food thanks to the calcium, fats and protein.

The point is, the quality of the information should nudge people into a healthier diet.

So, how far would you go to choose the right foods for your diet?


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Some numbers that need washing down with a strong cup of coffee?

The coffee market, that is people buying coffees outside the home, is worth £7.9 billion according to Allegra who presented this along with a few other numbers to us last week.

This £7.9 billion (000, mil) is growing at +9.7% and most of that is people opening new coffee shops. Allegra say that 2.2 billion coffee drinks consumed out of home a year.

According to Allegra’s research there are apparently only 20,728 coffee shops, but they don’t count the ‘greasy-spoon’ style outlets. However the number of coffee shops is growing. So what’s going on? Well, both the number of branded coffee focussed chains and independent coffee shops are on the rise. In addition, branded food focussed chain outlets are wanting a piece of the action. Greggs the bakers are really Greggs the coffee with anything else you might buy. Fast-food outlets are realising the importance of coffee as are the pasty shops, in fact the true number of coffee shops is probably going to be much higher perhaps 30,000 soon.

But, I hear you ask, won’t this mean everyone will sell less coffee as the customers are confronted with all this choice? Well, choice is a good point, 91% of the visits we make to coffee shops are to branded chains (Costa, Starbucks café Nero et al) and in fact Allegra reckon they were down by 1% (the visits that is). However 16% of the visits are by the same people visiting everyday – these people have got a serious habit! That coffee drinking habit is also getting more expensive. Each visit is worth, on average, about £4.07. Comparing this with the numbers Allegra produced in the last few years means we think the average cost of each visit has risen by about 5% / year. Not a bad return on capital in the current climate so perhaps one reason why high streets are filling fast with coffee shops.

Allegra asked consumers what factors encouraged them to re-visit a particular coffee shop. Perhaps not surprisingly, the number one reason was “great tasting coffee”. Good service is also important, as consumers gave “bad service” as the main reason that they didn’t go back to a coffee shop.

So the good news is our nation is getting more discerning about coffee. Visit any supermarket or fine-food retailer and the space and choice for coffee (beans and ground), pods etc. is growing. Gourmet machines (upmarket coffee vending machines to you and me) are springing up in garage forecourts, supermarkets, cinema etc. Micro roasting is increasingly popular, (a bit like micro-breweries without the driving afterwards issues). Even the pod machines at home prove fresh ground coffee tastes better than an instant powder. The point, people are spending on coffee.

There is one problem; according to Allegra the most popular bakery product sold alongside all this coffee is…… a cupcake! Probably due more to the dominance of certain large coffee chains deciding to offer these alongside coffee. Perhaps what large chains do now distorts our view of the market and we should be careful of the conclusions we draw. It might be the country has gone cupcake mad as a result of the Great British bake off or that we are all copying the big players? If you would like to see the Allegra research then follow this link.


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‘Tis the season to be Jolly…

Yes, well it soon will be and that means making sure you have a great Christmas range offer that ensures you get you and your customers get the maximum from Christmas.

What to do? Let us be bold and suggest the following.

Christmas drinks are easy. With our range of seasonal flavours a flavour transforms the usual to a Christmas special.

  • Christmas Cake
  • Eggnog
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin
  • Crème Brule
  • Gingerbread

    starter sets

    starter sets

  • Cherry
  • Bah Humbug (mint)

For a full list of our flavours please click here

One other little trick, don’t let a customer leave without them seeing some of these mini-sets. 4 x 50ml gift sets are an ideal way of getting customers to share their coffee-house experience with others. These gift-sets are proving a very popular way of increasing sales. An ideal stocking filler or fun ‘secret-santa’ office solution. Either way, a very easy top-up if visible at the till.

4 x 50ml Christmas coffee shots

4 x 50ml Christmas coffee shots

We are always looking for ways to make it easier to get into new flavours hence the ‘starter-packs’ which have proved really popular for independent coffee shops and fine-food delis looking for a low risk way into seasonal flavours. Click here to see our latest offers

Want to know more? Just call us 01666 577 379

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Salad Syrup dressing; sounds weird, tastes great

For several years one of our most popular summer products has been our Salad Syrup Dressing.

Based on our Fine Vanilla syrup, this dressing is a blend of Vanilla and a balsamic vinegar. A combination you would not ordinarily expect to see or even think of, the discovery was made by one of our friends. We admit that we were very sceptical until we tried it. Now, we can’t eat a green salad without this Salad Syrup Dressing.

Originally, Salad Syrup Dressing was made at home by blending the Fine Vanilla syrup and some balsamic but this was soon to be far too much effort given the quantity of Salad Syrup Dressing being consumed in the summer so we decided it must be an idea to make a finished Salad Syrup Dressing up. That meant a label. The Salad Syrup Dressing label was probably not the most exciting label we have designed so we made the effort this spring to develop a new and more colourful label to really sell the Salad Syrup Dressing.

Our new label will hopefully mean more people will get-over their prejudice for this weird sounding combination of the Fine Vanilla syrup and the balsamic and enjoy Salad Syrup Dressing as much as we do.

salad syrup label pic

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What is wrong with the dairy industry?

At the moment it is probably no worse than it was two, five or certainly ten years ago.

Long-term, it is struggling to restructure itself to meet then change in retail and international markets.

Overall the dairy market has been predictably uncertain with prices rising and falling for milk whilst oil, wheat, nitrogen among the many inputs all changing due to supply, demand and currency.

Why are milk prices low now?

Currency, world supply and falling demand. In fact, although many commentators will refuse to acknowledge; oil is often a predictor for milk prices and when you look at how many input costs for milk production are dependent on oil then perhaps it should not be a surprise. China is probably not helping as its demand for everything starts to fall just as food production has picked up.

But most milk is fresh and from a supermarket so why does it matter what world markets are doing?

Just for once perhaps, this short-term milk price problem is not directly due to the supermarkets and the price they pay for their direct supply milk. In fact, they pay some of the best prices for their directly contracted milk supply. However, the cheese and other dairy products are affected by world prices and supermarkets won’t pay more than anyone else, they can’t. Supermarkets can’t even compete generally at the moment as food prices and oil prices make their annual results look poor. Worse, Russia is closed off as a market to European producers compounding the immediate problem.

The government can intervene and offer to fix a minimum milk price?

Government intervention would not be legal (well not without some EU support, new laws etc.) it would take too long to agree and would not fix the problem. Why? Because the problem is not as simple as the milk price paid to farmers. If you artificially raise the minimum price for milk you make the products that it would go into unsellable on the open market because they would be more expensive than Irish butter and cheese or world prices for powder etc. etc.

So what can be done?

Very little other than accept that things will have to change. Farmers will have to reduce their costs; that means get bigger, produce differently and that may mean for many that they will go back to low-cost grass fed systems that will mean only producing in the spring and summer and accepting the commodity market price for their milk. Whilst others will have to produce dead level supply for premium markets that will pay for the privilege; these will be the supermarkets and some food-service customers who contract directly.

What will it mean for the rest of us?

We will import more milk and dairy products, drink more UHT and powdered milk sometimes and eat more foreign dairy if we want it cheap. We will also see more farmers becoming processors and producing their own branded specialist milk products in order to be competitive and sustainable. Banks will not lend to many farmers or processors unless they can command a premium and demonstrate they own a piece of the market. That means products that are novel or offer a real point of difference and a brand that is defendable.

What about the other markets. Food service; coffee shops, hotels and restaurants?

The reduction in both milk prices to farmers and the cost of processing falling on the back of oil prices should result in a more competitive market place. Worth remembering, what goes down often goes back up.

John Taylerson FCIM, MBA,

15th January 2015

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Explore the opportunity to add a little more revenue to every drink you sell

Coffee shop Christmas with pumpsIndustry research suggests that an average coffee-shop customer is worth about £3.20. A quick way to increase that is flavoured syrups. A 1 litre bottle of syrup should generate about £30 in additional revenue.
How? Offer a range of flavoured shots to existing drinks. Vanilla, Caramel, Gingerbread coffee or even Hazelnut, Cherry, Mint in chocolate-drinks too. Seasonal flavours like Cinnamon encourage new consumers with their seasonal aroma in a coffee shop.
Seasonal favourites: Christmas This year try Christmas-Cake, Eggnog, Crème Brûlée, Cinnamon, Cherry in coffee or in chocolate to make a Black Forest Gateaux flavoured drink

To help you exploit these flavours we have a special Starter-Kit offer. Any 4 x 1 litre flavours with a set of dosing pumps for £35

The starter kit includes 4 dosing pumps that dispense 10ml / shot and thread into the neck of our plastic (PET) bottles that look like glass but don’t smash like it.

Many more flavours so if you don’t see a flavour- just ask. For information, ideas and recipes: to join the debate

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