Can Coffee Giants Serve a Good Cup of Tea?

tearoomOver 165 million cups of tea are enjoyed daily in the UK, which is twice the amount of coffee, yet only 15% of all tea consumed is away from the home and workplace. For operators, this provides a perfect opportunity to grow within the market, by adapting their tea offerings and meeting customer expectations.

Coffee chains are prominent in every high street of Britain whether it’s Costa Coffee, Starbucks, or the collection of smaller independent cafés, however many still only offer customers one type of tea, one way, even though the average Briton drinks 1,000 cups a year.

Only 1% of consumers believe coffee shops can make a perfect cup of tea, which means these establishments are ranked behind friends, family and even work colleagues, according to research by BRITA. An increasing number of consumers wish to mirror their in-home beverage habits and tea is no exception. Research conducted by Tetley suggests that consumers expect their tea to taste exactly the same out-of-home as it does in-home, and are disappointed with the tea that coffee chains serve.

As a result, these well-known coffee chains are slowly being joined by a raft of specialist tea houses. Out-of-home tea drinking is becoming highly fashionable with people looking for new or reinvented creative spaces to enjoy their favourite cup. Longstanding and well-loved tea houses, alongside newer independent outlets, have helped reinvent the relationship consumers have with tea. They offer a variety of specialist and herbal blends, acknowledging and capitalising on the change in consumers’ tastes and choice of beverages. Of course, the traditional tea - white, no sugar - still remains popular; however customers demand more indulgent, healthy or specialised products when out and about; consequently an establishment’s tea offering must reflect this.

Tea houses aim to deliver a unique and social experience to their customers, with the most prestigious places considering everything from the crockery and staff attitudes, to the food served alongside a selection of carefully brewed teas. With The Tea Guild Awards considered the ‘Oscars’ of the tea world, many compete for this highly coveted honour by steadily increasing their standards and the experience they present to their visitors.

With popularity of tea houses on the rise, coffee giant Starbucks, has now entered the tea market with their Teavana tea bar in New York, where customers can to choose from a selection of fine teas and herbal infusions. If a success, Starbucks is looking to take this worldwide, with a further 1,000 outlets in the next five to ten years.

This certainly signifies a shift in attitude, and if executed correctly, could see a real boom to the tea industry out-of-home. For coffee establishments, tea variation is key on a menu, with customers reassured by the presence of a branded product that they know and love. Additionally, if coffee giants asked the simple question ‘How would you like your tea?’ they would be able to fulfil and exceed the consumer’s expectations.

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