Automation key to the future of café culture: Seven Miles report

As restrictions ease and the hospitality industry looks to the new way of working in the wake of COVID-19, a new report from Seven Miles Coffee Roasters predicts automation will lead the coffee industry in the coming years.

As restrictions ease in many parts of the country, Dr Adam Carr, Head of the Coffee Science and Education Centre (CSEC) at Seven Miles, is releasing Café 2025 to help support the industry through the recovery process.

“Our 2025 Café Report is something we have been working on long before COVID-19, yet so much of our findings lend themselves to the new world we now live in. At Seven Miles, we put people first, which is why it was important for us to release these key findings at this time, to help affected businesses plan for success as restrictions ease and we look to get back to our daily lives,” Adam says.

“Australians’ love of coffee is one thing we have been sure of during these unprecedented times. Based on our modelling, we predict the café industry to bounce back stronger than ever. While some hospitality venues may have closed, many have adapted during the pandemic, and those who were able to weather the storm will thrive once restrictions are lifted.”

With the inaugural stage focused on the immediate issues facing café owners, the report looks at new necessities from increased hygiene practices to cashless cafés, as COVID-19 continues to shape the future of coffee drinking.

The Café 2025 trends forecast, developed by the Australian roaster, highlights the key movements that are likely to take place in the industry within the next few years.

Seven Miles predicts that now more than ever, advancing technology and innovation will be crucial for businesses, satisfying consumers need for “fast” coffee in addition to the traditional slower sit-down experience. While cashless payment systems and app-based ordering have become a mainstream process, the report predicts automation will become the right arm of many cafés in years to come. It says this will provide a cost efficient, time-saving, foolproof coffee making machine.

Cafés across the nation have been forced to adapt their operations quickly in order to survive. From home delivery to takeaway only and new product offerings, the industry has seen one of the most dramatic shifts in the hospitality landscape in Australian history.

“Some things we expect to change post-pandemic are the strength and value of take-away coffee. Remote kiosks, app-based ordering, and cashless payment systems have accelerated the adoption of ‘fast’ coffee,” Adam says.

“That is, coffee made with machine assistance, rather than barista-driven. This is a massive avenue for growth moving forward, and those who adopt these systems early are likely to grow at a prodigious rate.”

“Hygiene will be a priority in the mindset of consumers, making it more important than ever for restaurants to be loud and proud in their hygiene standards and adherence to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines,” Adam says.

“The sensitivity of operators to time, security and, now, hygiene would see a natural movement of operators towards remote payment systems which are cashless, convenient, and have the potential to efficiently feed more feet through the door of the café,” Adam says.

“While most customers prefer to sit down and drink their coffee, or bring their own cup, they are now more aware of the health impacts an action may cause, and that hygiene and environmental footprint need to walk together, side-by-side,” Adam says. “We see automation as being the solution to this problem.”

“There has been a ‘near-tsunami-like wave’ of customers seeking to buy and use coffee at home, with retail sales in cafés for good quality, roasted whole coffee beans on the rise,” Adam says.

“With an increase in the curiosity of consumers as to how to brew good coffee at home, we now have a more educated consumer who appreciates the complexity of coffee-making putting more importance on the knowledge and expertise of local baristas.”

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