The Future Is Brewing & A New Generation Of Coffee Products Are Mixing Things Up

Innovation, sustainability and traceability are integral to the industry's future, and cafes are more important than ever

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Aotearoa has long been home to innovative coffee operations — fuelled by good beans and that famous “Kiwi ingenuity” — from the zeitgeist of the specialty coffee revival in the early 1990s, to the thriving cafe scene across the country today, and the investment in at-home set ups to brew that perfect cup. The future of coffee looks promising, with new products on the shelves and a buzzing community, and the industry is pushing forward. Rob Lockyear, global brand lead of the iconic Allpress Espresso, has been reflecting on what’s making waves now, and what’s going to be important for the future of the industry.

First and foremost are the physical spaces in which we connect; integral to coffee culture, and to the social fabric of society, they help shape the rhythm of daily life. “We can’t talk about the future of coffee without talking about cafes,” says Rob. “They are who we get out of bed for each day and it’s been heart-breaking to see how much the industry has struggled over the past couple of years.”

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Time spent away from these institutions has made people appreciate them more than ever, as places to catch up with friends and family, indulge in some alone time, and see the human tapestry of their neighbourhoods in action. “Nothing can replace the cultural significance and connection provided by cafes.” He’s excited to see how they will adapt and evolve for the future — and already cafes are leaning into retailing and technology. “There has been widespread adoption of digital tools like ordering apps,” Rob explains, adding that these shifts have led to Allpress evolving its support strategy for its cafe community around the globe. “Great training and technical support have been the key to our long-term success — the cafe model has changed and we need to too. Everything from the way we communicate to training and tech support is ripe for innovation.”

Also changing are people's palates, as they become more adventurous, while technical innovation has led to new categories. Coffee and consumer tastes are expanding, and a hot cup is no longer the only drink of choice. Canned coffee, in particular, is being embraced as the quality evolves — Allpress debuted its premium specialty coffee cans last year. “The technology has suddenly become accessible to specialty roasters like us. We are taking beautiful, high-quality coffee combined with our brewing and roasting expertise and applying it to what was once a commercial packing format.”

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“Traditionally, the mention of 'coffee in a can' would see many people turn their nose up,” admits Rob, but that's no longer the case. The high-quality flavour — part of its growing popularity — comes from a change in process. “We are also seeing a shift, away from steeping the coffee over long periods of time, to a hot or flash brew process which is much more like a filter-style brew,” explains Rob. “The coffee has more clarity and complexity, and it’s a really true flavour representation of the beans.” While its core range will focus on signature blends, he reveals there are some exciting recipes in the pipeline “that will flip the morning coffee occasion on its head.”

READ: This Innovative App From Allpress Makes Finding Good Coffee A Breeze

Surging in popularity in recent years are coffee capsules. Allpress launched capsules in July 2021 (after countless requests from its customers) and capturing the brand’s beloved flavour profile was a unique challenge, with the team having to completely rethink the way they roast. “Starting with great raw coffee is a huge advantage but it’s a radically different approach,” Rob admits. “We are keeping it simple and just trying to deliver the best capsule espresso we can (with some limited-edition surprises thrown in too).” Just as important as the coffee inside is the capsule material. “We chose aluminium for our capsules because it is infinitely recyclable and holds a high value for recyclers which means it’s more likely to be recycled,” explains Rob. “Because of the way it pierces very precisely, it’s certainly the best choice for flavour.”

Circularity and the user journey were also designed into the product, with Allpress creating self-addressed return bags for its capsules. “We wanted to make the recycling process as easy and accessible for consumers as possible,” he says. "Lots of our customers are using the bags which is awesome — we need them to close the loop.” It’s the latest step in their sustainability journey; a challenge the coffee industry (and all others) face for the future, and the answers aren’t always quick or perfect — weighing up compostable, recycling and reusable options, assessing supply chains and navigating the evolving world of accreditations.

Like many other industries, the subjects of sustainability and ethical production are a pivotal part of coffee’s future — scientists have even created the first lab-grown coffee — and consumers are approaching their brew with more consideration. “There is definitely a push towards making more conscious choices with coffee,” Rob says. “Coffee drinkers are more connected to the product than ever.”

“Improving traceability is important for the whole industry.” For Allpress, which has been sourcing coffee direct from origin since 2001 (now 87 per cent of its beans) that means going deeper with its supplier relationships. “We started sourcing direct initially to take control of quality and flavour and to make sure our purchasing was fair,” explains Rob. 20 years on, these connections are the heart and soul of the business.

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“The strength of these relationships has really guided us through these last turbulent years. We are starting to feel the effects of climate change, global shipping is in disarray — we have to deepen these connections and reinvest more in the source of our product.” This commitment also invests in the future of its growers. “A core part of our sourcing philosophy is building year-on-year relationships. It’s important for us and gives the producer the confidence that they have a home for their coffee.”

Investing in the quality and origin of its beans and working with the best suppliers is why Allpress has a legacy of creating iconic flavour, and helping people enjoy the perfect cup. “Human connection is why we are here and it’s the important relationships we create that steer us on the right path when we veer off course. We realise that sometimes it’s as simple as connecting two people in a cafe over a couple of flat whites.” 

That’s the future of coffee.

Learn more about Allpress at Allpressespresso.com

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