Coffee Shop Industry Trends to Watch in 2021

In recent years, people have spent far less time in coffee shops than they would probably like to. It’s been almost impossible as we have gone in and out of lockdowns, and stores have been regularly closed throughout the pandemic. 

But we love our coffee, and it’s going to take more than that to kill the high street coffee shop. In 2021, expect the industry to continue to adapt and enhance customer experience, plus make people feel safer in their shops.

Continued focus on social distancing and cleanliness

Starting with the obvious aspect that has become a priority for virtually every business. People aren’t going to risk their health to get their daily caffeine dose, and if they feel like a coffee shop is not doing their bit to keep everyone socially distanced and to keep things clean, they’re likely to just go to the next coffee shop.

A recent report on the impact of coronavirus on the coffee industry had some interesting findings, as loads of people made the decision to stay away. All that coffee shops can do is make sure their store is clean and encourage everyone to follow restrictions.


Another way people can feel safer when they are going to get their coffee is if they never have to leave their car. A lot of the big coffee chains have already embraced drive-throughs so people can pick up a drink while they are on the road. We expect a lot of other coffee shops to do a sort of “drive-through” service.

Coffee shops may also experiment with how they serve, as people feel more confident out in the open air, so serving hatches could be a popular way to give people their fix of coffee while minimizing mixing.

A focus on health

People are becoming more and more aware of their health. In a post-covid world, people realise that being in bad shape can have a negative impact and increase the risk of a lot of diseases. Many coffee companies have come in for criticism for making certain types of drinks, including frappes, that have huge calorie counts.

But coffee can be healthy, and even boost weight loss, so expect to see a number of coffee shops focusing on healthy, zero-calories solutions. What’s wrong with a black Americano after all? 

New and exciting flavours

It can feel like there’s a coffee shop on every corner, and they all need to find a way to outdo each other. What’s so special about one coffee shop when compared to another? Well, one way in which people can differentiate their offering is to stock new and exciting flavours, and some coffee shops are experimenting with new types of coffee, and even varieties from all over the world. Coffee alternatives like matcha has been growing in popularity too and are a welcome alternative to coffee. 

People love the idea that they can really get excited about coffee. Gone are the days where everyone was pretty happy with a cup of boring instant coffee. While instant may still have its place, you’re not going to be the talk of the coffee community unless you can offer consistently delicious and interesting drinks.

Supporting local

Another knock-on effect of these uncertain times is the fact that a lot of people have started to realise what they are risking if they don’t support the locals. Chain coffee shops serve a purpose, but we all have that little independent spot that we love to go and drink a beautiful coffee and chat, or enjoy a book.

People know that small businesses have struggled, and those that have survived on the high street will need support. The huge chains will survive, but if we don’t make a point of visiting our local independent then there is every chance they won’t be there. And it’s the little independent stores where you often find some of the best communities and most interesting coffees.

Subscriptions and loyalty schemes

We live in an age where you can get virtually anything on a subscription. We’re used to paying a monthly fee to go to the gym, the cinema, or even for gourmet meals. So what about coffee?

Pret a Manger seems to have set the precedent here, offering a subscription service where you can get up to five coffees a day for a flat monthly membership fee. It remains to be seen whether this is a smart business move, but it makes sense that people will keep coming back and may even buy their lunch there as a result. Don’t be surprised if you see other coffee businesses starting to offer a similar membership. If not, there’s every chance that more coffee shops will offer a loyalty scheme. It’s a competitive business, and even offering someone every fifth coffee for free might ensure they come to you time and time again.


Every industry is facing its own set of challenges in 2021, but the coffee shop industry seems one of the best-equipped to roll with the punches, plus we all love our coffee, right?

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