Coffee & Tea Trends: What We Learned Writing Our March/April Issue
Our upcoming March/April magazine is Coffee & Tea themed, and while java brews serious sales at North American hotels, tea is gaining ground in 2019, due partly to tea’s attachment to a trending wave of wellness programs.
Also, newer F&B titles like Tea Sommelier are popping up at properties that take their tea seriously, while manufacturers are responding with durable, double-walled, clear-glass vessels to showcase the color and texture of premium teas and enhance the guest experience.
Having said that, coffee is still what fuels hotel guests by a significant margin in North America, but both beverages demand a place in every F&B program. Here’s some of what we learned while writing our Coffee & Tea issue:
Grow Your Own: One resort we feature grows approximately 1,300 pounds of coffee on nearly 2.5 acres of its own property. They also assign hotel workers to harvest the beans, which are then used for everything from coffee spa treatments (making up 22% of all spa treatments) to VIP amenities, and perhaps the lowest-carbon-footprint cup of joe at any North American hotel.
A Costly Cuppa: One hotel we feature has an entire menu of vintage teas, with the most expensive a 1985 Emperor’s Masterpiece from Anhui, China, priced at $300 an ounce, and brewed in a pot for the customer. “It’s a bit like a first-growth Bordeaux, and is collectible at this point. It also ages well when properly stored, upwards of five to ten years,” says an F&B pro at the property, adding that they sell one pot of Emperor’s Masterpiece a year.
Brewed Awakening: We talked to a bartender who created a top-selling coffee cocktail using cold-brew made with perishable coconut water instead of regular water. One lesson learned while tweaking the recipe “was figuring out that cold-brew coconut water will only last about 24 hours. You’re either going to sell it all or drink it at the end of the night, because the next morning it’ll smell like somebody farted in a cup with coconut in it,” explains the bartender.
Taste-Tea Pairings: A chef we interviewed says tea is an underrated beverage for food pairing since its high acid content makes it a natural match for high-fat cheeses and charcuterie, as well as a perfect complement to cigars.
Shareable Space: One luxury hotel brand we feature says in their newer hotels—where valuable F&B space is limited—cafés are no longer stand-alone venues that sit empty after peak hours. Instead, the space functions as a coffee shop during the day, then morphs into a bar at night, and also serves as the property’s grab-and-go for artisan snacks. The strategy is that more F&B revenues are generated per square foot when a space is always active and not locked into a single concept.
Coffee vs. Tea, Explained: A tea sommelier told us what he thinks is behind our North American preference for coffee over tea. “As a culture, we want instant feedback all the time, and that extends to coffee because we get that caffeine kick right away, while tea requires more patience. Also, people tend to like really big, bold flavors—just like wine—because our palates have been trained that way, which is why dark roast is so popular.”