According to new, independent research by water filter specialist Brita Professional on the opinions of coffee operators, almost all (97%) believe that sustainability credentials are important to their customers.
When asked about the top priorities for their business, sustainability came second place (48%) only to customer satisfaction (70%).
However, the research also revealed that hot beverage operators feel there are a number of barriers to reaching their sustainable goals. Almost half think their equipment is letting them down by not standing the test of time (49%).
Nearly half of coffee operators highlighted the importance of working with sustainable suppliers and 56% said they would pay more for a supplier if it offered a measurable impact on sustainability efforts.
The research found the top sustainable initiatives coffee operators would like suppliers to focus on includes working on machine protection to help it stand the test of time (51%). While 44% believe that working with sustainable suppliers should be a top priority.
However, businesses could do more. Less than half (46%) have introduced incentives to reduce single-use coffee cups and only a third (34%) have installed filtered water dispensers to replace bottled water.
Many operators also want to go further, with 53% seeing the energy efficiency of equipment as a top focus, but just under half (46%) are using water filters on their equipment. Filters could ensure coffee making equipment runs efficiently by protecting against limescale and unwanted minerals.
Speaking about the research results, Sarah Taylor, MD of Brita UK, said: “Sustainability in the coffee sector isn’t a new concept, the industry as a whole is dedicated to creating a sustainable supply chain – from the beans right through to the coffee served.
“What is new is the significant shift in consumer’ expectations and awareness of the climate crisis. Once viewed as a ‘nice to have’, putting the environment before profit is now expected and this goes beyond the likes of recycling packaging and removing single-use plastic straws.
“For suppliers in the coffee industry, continually improving on sustainable practices to pass the benefits down the supply chain to operators and meet consumer demand is an ongoing challenge.”
She concluded: “Our new toolkit provides practical solutions and advice on how to balance sustainability challenges with other business priorities, as well as the potential gains that can be made from making the right sustainable choices.”