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It’s said that coffee is recession proof. The loose theory being that we are so hooked on the stuff that it’s the absolute last thing we’ll sacrifice during hard times. While that cup of coffee may need to be pried from our cold, dead hands, will we hold on as tight to our trips to the coffee shop?
Last week, Starbucks announced that it expects to open 90 percent of its U.S. stores by early June, under modified operations and hours. In a letter to customers, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson explained what some of the modifications will look like:
Our Starbucks App will enable new features, including optimizing for curbside pick-up, entryway handoff, improved drive-thru experiences, voice ordering through Siri and the ability for everyone to earn stars that can be redeemed for rewards. We will also shift toward more cashless experiences, knowing that the handling of cash creates consumer concerns about the spread of viruses.
For many, these changes may not impact how we interact with a giant entity like Starbucks. The whole point of Starbucks is in its ubiquity and consistency. If you need a quick caffeine fix, you know there’s a Starbucks nearby and you know what you’re going to get. Grabbing and going in that scenario isn’t a huge behavioral change.
That’s all well and good for Starbucks, but what about the independent, neighborhood cafe? What will our experience be like there? I mean, assuming that your local neighborhood coffee shop can survive the immediate financial threats of this outbreak.
To help independent coffee shops, Bellwether, which makes a ventless electric coffee roaster the size of a vending machine, announced yesterday that it was waiving the first two months of its roaster fees if shops install one of their machines between now and July. The machines cost $75,000 outright, but can also be leased, and could provide a lifeline to struggling cafes by allowing them to create, use and sell their own roast coffees.
But do we go to our local coffee shops just for the beans? I’d wager that for many of us, the coffee shop is one of the more intimate “third spaces” we go to regularly. We start our days there, tell secrets to friends there, write our great screenplays there. Moreso than a restaurant, it’s a place of comfort.
Comfort may not be the word we associate with coffee shops that re-open in the near future. Between government regulations around reduced capacity, tables and seats being spaced six feet apart, and baristas wearing masks, this intimate third space may feel too distant.
To be clear, I don’t think cafes and coffee shops will go away, but this isn’t a problem contactless payment terminals and mobile apps can solve. We may not sacrifice our coffee even in the worst of times, and hopefully what we love about going to coffee shops won’t be completely sacrificed as we work through this pandemic.
Online Grocery Shopping is Going Gangbusters
Online grocery shopping hit a record $5.3 billion in April, according to a survey from Brick Meets Click and Symphony RetailAI. This is up from the previous record-setting month of March when grocery shopping was a mere $4 billion.
This wave of grocery e-commerce shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Shelter in place orders across the country for the past couple of months have had people skipping the in-store shopping.
Not to woulda-coulda-shoulda these numbers, but given the difficulties a lot of people experience with finding delivery times and navigating out of stock products, one has to wonder what the total sales for April coulda been had the infrastructure been in place.
I’m curious what May’s e-commerce numbers will look like. States are relaxing stay at home orders, but people are still scared to go into stores. Will there be a dip in online grocery shopping this month, and if so, by how much?
Our Next Virtual Fireside: How is COVID-19 Changing Food Habits?
We’ve got another awesome virtual fireside chat coming up this week! On May 7th, Spoon Founder Mike Wolf will talk with NPD Group’s Food and Beverage analyst Susan Schwallie about how the coronavirus pandemic is upending food habits. Save your spot today (it’s free!).
It’s the latest in our virtual fireside series. Previous chats include Hack-Proofing The Kitchen: Strategies & Tactics for Securing Connected Kitchen Appliances, and Building the Future Kitchen. And we’ve got more on the way!
- The Future of Kitchen Design in a Post COVID-19 World with Johnny Grey (May 14 at 10 a.m. Pacific)
- From Sourdough to the End of Meat: A Conversation About Fermentation as a Food Tech Platform with Sudeep Agarwala, Program Director & Biological Engineer at Ginkgo Bioworks (May 21 at 10 a.m. Pacific)
All of these talks are free to watch so register for them today and follow us on CrowdCast to catch up on all virtual events we hold in the future.