Coffee shop trends to watch in 2023

Lebo Matshego
April 3, 2023
An image of a barista in a coffee shop or cafe making a sit in coffee beverage in an article on Coffee shop trends in 2023

It is likely that 2023 will be another interesting year for the specialty coffee industry, with new trends and products flooding the market.

The advantages of following trends can range from remaining competitive to reducing the environmental impact of a coffee business’ activities.

Following trends can help roasters and coffee shop owners build a larger customer base, boost their social media presence, and have a better understanding of what is happening in the industry.

To learn more about possible coffee shop trends to watch in 2023, I spoke with Felix Matsvai, a barista at Father Coffee in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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What can coffee brands expect in 2023?

According to a report by the World Coffee portal, coffee brands can expect a good trading year, despite inflation and the rising cost of living.

Across Europe, the Middle East, and the USA, commercial coffee shops such as Starbucks can expect to fully recover their sales after the Covid-19 pandemic.

More so, delivery and click-and-collect services that were a response to the pandemic are likely to remain in place, particularly in the US.

Researchers from the World Coffee Portal state 54% of US-based coffee consumers prefer the format of drive-thru coffee shops due to their ease and convenience.

That said, within the European market, only 24% of consumers indicate they prefer drive-thru coffee options. This highlights a strong preference for the “conversations over coffee” culture. 

Additionally, sustainability remains top of the agenda for the majority of coffee shops. An increasing number of consumers still expect brands to use eco-friendly packaging and reduce waste.

As a result, a growing number of coffee businesses are prioritising a green economy ethos in their business model.

Paper packaging options are likely to continue to gain favour with roasters and coffee shops, as it is affordable and easy to recycle.

However, roasters and coffee shop owners must ensure their paper packaging materials are sourced sustainably and certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

An image of paper coffee packaging from Father Coffee, custom printed coffee boxes, in an article on Coffee shop trends in 2023

The rise in Africa’s coffee culture

Coffee consumption in Africa is thriving due to the rise in urbanisation and middle-class income. The region is seeing an increase in specialty coffee shops and roasters, sustainability, job creation, and supporting local farmers – particularly female farmers.

Primarily, the African region has been a coffee exporter, producing approximately 12% of the world’s coffee beans.

For instance, Ethiopia is often considered the birthplace of the highly favoured Arabica coffee bean. Additionally, it is the largest producer of coffee on the continent.

Other highly successful African coffee exporters include Uganda, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda and Tanzania.

That said, coffee shop culture in Africa’s urban cities, including Kigali, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, is steadily rising.

While the East African region is primarily an exporter of coffee, consumption in cafes is on the rise. This may be due to the growth of the middle class and younger generations, who are giving the culture its flavour and providing an increase in job opportunities.

For instance, specialty roasters in Kigali are choosing to partner with local producers, particularly farms run by women, for skill development and product exports.

Additionally, South Africa is fast becoming a large coffee-consumption hub, having consumed over 600,000 60 kg bags in 2020.

The city of Cape Town has a thriving coffee culture, followed closely by Johannesburg.

Local coffee culture creates a relaxed and social environment for consumers. Furthermore, as cafes merge with wine bars, artists, and musicians, coffee is set to continue rising as a social feature in urban culture.

An image of a co-office or coffee working space in an article on Coffee shop trends in 2023

The emergence of co-offices, coffee bars, and more

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, coffee shops often doubled as convenient workspaces for freelancers and independent contractors. 

As the concept of working from home has become the new normal, the majority of coffee shops are now expected to act as co-offices.

Co-offices have become particularly popular in countries that suffer from scheduled power cuts. In South Africa, these scheduled power outages are referred to as “loadshedding”, and have helped placed coffee shops at the forefront of alternative workspaces.

“The ‘work-from-coffee-shop’ set up brings a significant amount of foot traffic into cafes,” Felix says. “Cafes need to accommodate this by offering the basics, such as comfortable seating, and plug points.” 

Additionally, the cafe will need to ensure it has back-up power for the schedule power cuts. “Investing in a generator for your cafe is an additional overhead cost but is necessary in order to cater to customers during power cuts,” Felix says. 

Merging coffee and wine bars

Over the last few years in South Africa, coffee shops have introduced wine bars in-store to cater to both consumers.

South Africa is known as one of the top wine markets in the world. Notably, the industry exported approximately R10 billion worth of wine in 2021.

“The merger of coffee and wine is a business model that works amazingly for the South African coffee market,” Felix explains. 

“It brings two urban, specialty products together under one roof and provides a unique opportunity to have day-time social events. These became popular after the Covid-19 lockdowns.” 

At-home coffee consumption

Notably, the global instant coffee sector is valued at over $12 billion, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, at-home coffee consumption boomed due to the closure of coffee shops.

The demand for at-home coffee is still strong, and several specialty roasters have jumped at the opportunity to provide customers with quality beans or filter coffee to make at home.

“As a barista, I’ve noticed an increase in beans and filter coffee sales,” highlights Felix. “Consumers have coffee machines at home, and although they’ll come in and enjoy their coffee in-store, they still want good coffee at home.” 

“At Father Coffee, we offer several high-quality coffees that people can enjoy at home.”

Both roasters and cafes that offer consumers coffee to brew at home should consider investing in sustainable packaging. 

Recyclable packaging materials can help coffee brands appeal to a growing number of eco-conscious consumers. 

MTPak Coffee offers a range of packaging solutions made from renewable materials.

Our range of coffee boxes is made using recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

More so, both our sustainable coffee bags and coffee mailer boxes can be fully customised to accurately reflect your brand, as well as your coffee’s characteristics.

MTPak Coffee offers our clients a quick turnaround time of 40 hours and 24-hour shipping time. 

We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

For more information on how to customise your sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

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