How the pandemic changed the future of coffee shops

How the pandemic changed the future of coffee shops

Coffee shops were amongst the businesses that the Covid pandemic hit the hardest. At the height of contagions, several countries mandated restaurant closures as part of their lockdown measures. When allowed to be open again, gone were the office workers, the tourists or passersby, only the most loyal customers showed up to support their local hangout. There’s no denying that it was a hard time for many café owners, and difficult times may still lie ahead.

For this reason, we talked about the challenges the industry faced and what awaits the hospitality sector afterwards with Matteo, Italian Barista Champion 2022 and owner of Peacocks Coffee. 


“Improved hygiene awareness”

Health & Safety regulations should never be underestimated again, says Matteo, who understands it’s not always easy to keep up with the standards set by the codes, especially when a café gets busy, but we now have seen firsthand what the consequences can be so great importance should be placed in abiding to the correct procedures.

“Coffee to go became popular even in countries where it wasn’t”

For obvious reasons, take away and delivery were the key to survival amongst strict lockdown measures, Matteo tells us. People in Italy, for example, weren’t used to drink coffee from a paper cup, here it’s standard to drink your espresso at the counter very quickly. Now it’s not weird anymore to ask for your coffee to go, and it’s become an essential service to offer even in the future.

“Greater focus on quality”

Matteo has noticed a clear shift in the demand. As going out for coffee became a rare occasion, customers have started to prefer higher quality products, from coffee blends to food. WFH means there are fewer employees that grab something to drink or eat at lunch or between meetings. Going to a coffee shop has now become more infrequent and more of a special occasion to meet with friends and family. For this reason, now people have the time to savor their beverages and food and substandard products no longer encounter the customers’ favor. If they haven’t yet, coffee owners should look into upgrading their offering, recommends Matteo, as passersby’s numbers keep decreasing.

“Adaptability is fundamental”

Those that were able to adapt not only to different hygiene measures but also to different customer habits will reap the benefits for years to come, as long as they don’t forget the skills and lessons learned during those times, Matteo tells us. The world changes quickly, and it’s entirely plausible that another crisis may come, so coffee shop owners, often at the heart of local communities, should not lose sight of that.

“Customer loyalty is more important than ever”

Cafés located in high-traffic areas that relied on passersby that came in once in a while or never again obviously struggled the most during the pandemic. Lockdowns showed us how important it is to build a rapport with your clientele, Matteo says, and coffee can definitely help in that sense, especially if you decide to serve premium coffee, because it makes people come back and gives you a chance to converse with them as you explain its qualities. During lockdowns, a lot of coffee shops survived because of their loyal customers who kept supporting them, great service and product is a way to give back as well as the basis for staying in business.

“Online marketing should never be underestimated again”

When everyone had to stay at home, the internet was the only way to connect to one another and may small businesses came to realize how important it is to have an online presence, even if just to inform people of the opening times that changed. As we move forward, coffee shop owners should continue to market their businesses online, recommends Matteo. Videos especially, he suggests, are a great way to convey your café’s atmosphere and style.