Premium coffees perk up midscale segment

Driven by ever-more-discerning American coffee drinkers demanding a better cup of joe, midscale lodging groups are upgrading to premium brews as never before.

Senior hotel, food-and-beverage and coffee company executives say they are focused on everything from improving lobby coffee service to unlocking new revenue streams to enhancing the guest experience via a flavorful brew.

“Within the midscale tier, up until the last three or four years, coffee was just coffee and any coffee would do, but now, thanks to Starbucks and other premium coffee roasters, our guests are more interested than ever in a flavor, a special roast and a better cup of coffee,” said David Neves, corporate director of F&B for IHG. While premium coffees, espressos, lattes and cold brews—often accompanied by individualized coffee service from in-house baristas—have been present, featured and served within the luxury, upper-upscale, upscale and upper-midscale hotel segments for some time, demand for specialty coffee is fast percolating through the midscale lodging tier.

Viewing U.S. coffee trends over the past 20 years, Michelle Burns, SVP of channel development, branded solutions for Starbucks Coffee Company, said there is a growing sophistication among U.S. coffee drinkers.

“We are seeing the same passion for morning beverages as we’ve seen for evening beverages,” said Toni Stoeckl, VP of select brands for Marriott International. You are seeing the globalization of a European passion for coffee. Ten or 15 years ago you would not have seen this level of interest in the U.S. in provenance, in its quality and the story behind a particular coffee.”

Millennial Power

Coffee appreciation among Americans is very much in evidence among one of the country’s most influential, and now largest, demographic groups: millennials. Prompted by growing numbers of coffee-savvy millennials staying at midscale properties, coffee premiumization at midscale brands is very much the order of the day.