As the pandemic-generated work-from-home (WFH) trend continues, so will the coffee-from-home trend, leaving consumers missing the constant availability of the caffeinated beverage in the office break room. With that in mind, New York City specialty coffee chain Think Coffee has launched a Coffee-Break-At-Home program, through which employers can order coffee care packages for remote employees.
“We were really thinking about what was missing from the work lives of lots of people right now all around the country,” Think Coffee Director of Business Development Tim Tate told PYMNTS in an interview. “While work-from-home and hybrid work offer plenty of upsides, folks are missing out on some of the perks of working at the office, like great food and beverage offerings.”
The At-Home Coffee Opportunity
The program invites employers to purchase 16-serving boxes of cold brew or ground coffee for their employees, which the coffee company will ship to their homes. “The majority of professionals have purchased a new coffee brewing device for their kitchen since the pandemic began,” Tate said. “Coffee is so important to help folks power through long days, and that doesn’t change when employees are working from wherever.”
In fact, one survey of 1,000 American workers found 90 percent of them miss at least one food-related benefit of the office and noted that at-home food prep have led to work-related slip-ups for many. With setups such as Think Coffee’s, and other programs that allow employers to purchase workday meals for their employees, many workplaces are recreating the in-office benefits at home (some more successfully than others).
“The amount of remote work job postings has skyrocketed, many businesses are selling off portions of their office space, and some are going hybrid if they call their employees back to the office at all,” said Tate. “The opportunity to take care of the employee’s coffee needs at home likely exists indefinitely.”
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed the mass shift toward working from home might be just a stopgap measure. But as lockdowns stretched on and workers grew accustomed to the benefits of doing their jobs remotely, it became clear that the WFH model is here to stay. Data from the PYMNTS study The New Digital Consumer: How The Pandemic Has Reshaped Consumers’ Shopping find that 39 percent of consumers have shifted from working in an office to working from home, and 83 percent of these workers intend to keep doing their jobs from home at least somewhat as often as they do now, even once they are allowed to return to the office.
COVID-19 Headwinds And Tailwinds
The pandemic has been devastating for the food service industry, with thousands of U.S. restaurants closing each month. Think Coffee’s home, New York City, has been especially hard hit, almost 3,000 businesses having already closed within the first five months, more than any other large U.S. city.
“We thankfully still have all our NYC shops, which have always been the heart and soul of our business,” said Tate, adding that the company has nonetheless “changed dramatically” in some ways.
The company has been turning more toward packaged goods, debuting a shelf-stable boxed cold brew that the company will ship anywhere in the country, as well as “working more on developing our wholesale business.” These segments of the business will likely continue to be a valuable investment even after the vaccine rollout is complete, with Tate noting that consumers are “brewing dramatically more coffee at home” on a “most likely permanent” basis.
“We are working very hard to strongly recover from this pandemic,” he said.
Additionally, the trend toward specialty higher quality coffee, Tate notes, is a tailwind for the shop. Demand for specialty coffee “has been growing like crazy in recent years,” he said, this trend “likely won’t stop.”
Digital Growth Into The Post-Pandemic Future
Another mid-lockdown change that Think Coffee made was “investing more resources” into its desktop site and its other digital platforms. The company launched a mobile ordering app in the summer of 2020, which also features loyalty rewards and informational content.
“As far as our app goes, we launched it in order to make people safer,” said Tate. “We didn’t want people to have to touch screens or come close to our staff if they didn’t feel comfortable.”
Sure enough, PYMNTS research from the December issue of our Delivering On Restaurant Rewards report created in collaboration with Paytronix finds that 38 percent of U.S. consumers are encouraged to spend more on their restaurant purchase if the restaurant offers contactless payment ability, 39 percent said the same if that restaurant offers a loyalty and rewards program, and 27 if that restaurant offers mobile app ordering ability. These sorts of digital-first tools can be the difference between top and bottom performing food and beverage establishments as we begin to move into the post-quarantine future.
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