Singer Ariana Grande launched her Starbuck's drink – a Cloud Macchiato – to global headlines last month, which tells you all you need to know about how far the world of coffee has come in the last two decades. And, while pubs don't have to start offering similarly complicated concoctions to get their share of café culture, they do have to start raising their coffee game.
Not persuaded? According to the British Coffee Association, the UK's coffee consumption soared to 95 million cups per day in 2018, an increase of 25 million cups in a decade.
"We know bartenders prefer pulling pints to serving coffee but the sales speak for themselves," says Scott Russell, founder of coffee merchant Paddy & Scotts.
"We work with many pubs that realise the potential that a good hot drink offer can bring. The Brakspear pub group announced in early 2018 that its on-trade coffee sales had increased by 44 per cent over the year, while Manchester-based JW Lees has seen double-digit growth in coffee sales and even got a mention in the Cool Coffee guide as a place that's "rocking the lattes".
Fabio Ferreira, co-founder of the Notes Coffee shops and roastery, suggests licensees look to speciality coffee shops, which are driving much of the current growth in the market, to see what they can learn.
"We would recommend offering the best your budget will allow... coffee is such an intrinsic part of our culture here in the UK, which is why consumers do expect a quality coffee offering, irrespective of whether they're in a coffee shop or a pub."
These days that extends to ethically produced coffee too, Fabio says, which is why we are seeing Fairtrade and other socially conscious labels becoming a key part of coffee marketing. One example is the Project Waterfall charity, which is dedicated to delivering access to fresh water and sanitation to coffee-growing communities across the globe.
One of the companies involved, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, has just launched its latest coffee, made from beans grown in areas of Ethiopia and Uganda that are currently benefiting from Project Waterfall support. Flavoured syrups are also a simple way for pubs to raise their coffee game. Brands such as Monin offer so much more than gingerbread and caramel these days – think peppermint, pumpkin or coconut.
Another trend is Nitro Coffee (served cold, on draught and infused with nitrogen), a drink that Mintel data suggests one in five Brits is now interested in buying.
Nestlé Professional is focusing on this area with its new Nescafé Azera Nitro equipment, which it brought to market last year.
"Ideal for pubs looking to offer something refreshingly new," explains Lynn Little, channel lead at the company. "It's a serve of the unexpected, creating a real sense of theatre."
Iced beverages are, in fact, growing in popularity across the board, with 66 per cent of 18- to 24-year-old coffee drinkers and 26 per cent of over-45-year-old coffee drinkers saying they are a good alternative to sugary soft drinks (Mintel).
Of course, one of the major advantages pubs have over coffee shops is being licensed to sell alcohol, so why not boost sales by mixing the two?
"From boozy Irish coffees to creamy café lattes, luxury coffees tend to be the biggest hits on the after-dinner scene," says George Thomas, coffee brand manager for Aimia Foods.
"As well as after-dinner coffees, pubs should also look to offer daytime coffee and cake. Whether it's a slice of chocolate fudge cake paired with an intense Americano, or a rich cherry Bakewell accompanied by a flat white, pubs can tempt a new daytime crowd with a sweet coffee and cake offering."
Some punters will be more inclined to have a cup of tea with their cake and with the tea market also looking vibrant these days, licensees would be foolish to ignore it.
Speciality tea blends are particularly en vogue these days – take note of buzzwords such as "infusion" and "stone rolled" – and catering to this market will take more than boiling a kettle and pouring it over a bag. But that's a whole other feature.
Just like coffee and tea, these days hot chocolate needs to be a luxurious option. Customers not only expect whipped cream and marshmallows, flavoured syrups or a shot of Baileys in their hot choc these days, they also expect the base drink to be something altogether more indulgent.
Chocolate specialist Callebaut for example, suggests licensees make a simple but decadent hot choc by melting its Milk Callets into hot milk, while Carpigiani offers the Chocolady machine which tempers a special chocolate mix into a rich, thick chocolate drink.