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HOT BEVERAGES


Are quality standards and altitude challenges just a storm in a tea cup or could changing tastes and safety issues bring a new brew to the galley? Julie Baxter makes time for tea (and coffee)


Hot stuff T


ea and coffee are as much a part of daily life for most people today as brushing


their teeth or tying shoelaces. We can now buy a hot drink pretty much wherever we are and whenever we want - be it on the high street, at work, or on the move on trains, planes and ferries. The choice is incredible and as a result


consumers are becoming more and more discerning. They know what they want in terms of taste and appearance and are constantly looking for the best of beverage experience and greatest value. Coffee leads the way in terms of trend- setting with new coffee shops and retail outlets opening on a daily basis but demand for new styles and more varieties of tea has been noted too. People are moving away from the standard teabag, good as that can be, and moving towards leaf teas. There is growing interest in herbal teas too and consistent enthusiasms for chocolate beverages. These are trends onboard caterers are expected to mirror too.


Martyn Herriott, executive director, The


Beverage Standards Association, says: “It’s very important for transport providers to follow the trends. They are often providing their service in a very quick and restricted way but the traveller market is a captive one. Increasingly the passenger knows exactly what they want and what they like but generally has very little choice compared to when they are buying beverages in the high street. If onboard caterers want satisfied customers they need to choose their products carefully and provide a high quality beverage. It’s a challenge to produce good tea and coffee at altitude and perhaps onboard caterers can’t match a coffee shop but they can certainly learn from them and focus on the quality and customer service.” He acknowledges that great


improvements have already been made and says: “The quality and style of the whole take-away market is evolving. People know how much good coffee or a tea bag costs so now we have to give added-value,


especially if we want to charge a premium price. In a shop environment that is easier to provide than within the confines of an airline seat or on a train but there have been improvements. For example, there are now a lot of environmental reusable cups rather than everything being served in plastic, and some onboard caterers are very focused on serving a level of quality that fully reflects the quality of their brand.”


Herriott believes the familiarity of known brands help customer satisfaction and onboard sales and adds: “Beverages bought en route are often a stress purchase, drunk in a stressful environment – when people see a familiar brand and choose Taylor of Harrogate’s Yorkshire Tea or Unilever’s PG Tips, Lipton or Scottish Blend they are doing so to try and replicate the taste of home and bring a bit of home comfort to their journey.”


52 WWW.ONBOARDHOSPITALITY.COM


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