The European Coffee Symposium 2016 took place in the beautiful city of Budapest, and was attended by over 400 thought leaders and top executives from the coffee shop, food-to-go and foodservice landscape.

Exploring the theme, A Brave New World – Innovating in Changing Times, the conference was broken down into three different sessions including:

Session One: Future Outlook

Session Two: Game Changers

Session Three: Inside Insights

Managing Director of Allegra Strategies Jeffrey Young kicked-off session one with his presentation on, Current and Future Marketplace: Latest Insights from Allegra’s Project Cafe17 Europe. Perhaps the most significant and exciting news to come from Young’s presentation is that we are now entering The 5th Wave, a ‘combination of all four previous waves.’ Thanks to a ‘savvy and connected millennial audience,’ the industry is seeing greater investment in technology in a bid to increase consumer satisfaction. According to the report, coffee shops are becoming ‘unashamedly business focused, with a new era of hyper-professionalism’ and a more advanced set of businesses practices in place which allow them to deliver artisan quality coffee at scale. To find out more about Project Cafe17 Europe, click here.

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Adam Mularuk, Brand President of Starbucks for Amrest followed Young, presenting on Mobile Lifestyle and In-store Experience – How to Attract Today’s ConsumersEchoing many of Young’s key points, Mularuk emphasised that there is a ‘growing demand from consumers for the perfect service as they become more and more knowledgeable.’ As a result of this, Starbucks is seeking to deliver an increasingly premiumised experience based on its core principles, ‘expand and elevate.’ Whether it’s the instalment of design-led, hand-crafted furniture, ambient lighting, or the use of innovative products and technology, the brand is taking as many steps as possible to appeal to its ‘entrepreneurial and resourceful consumers – consumers who expect more possibilities and more rewards for their custom each and every day.’


Costa too is taking Innovations For the Next Decade, very seriously, as explained by Managing Director of Costa Europe Andrzej Jackiewicz in the last of session one’s talks. New store formats including Costa Fresco and Costa Pronto as well as the introduction of a unique menu of hand-crafted food and limited edition roasts are just some of the ways in which the chain has adapted. Costa pay and collect, for example, has also become an integral part of the business, reducing queue lengths and increasing satisfaction by allowing customers to order ahead and gain bonus loyalty points.


Session two saw Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of Colonna deliver a presentation on Superlative Speciality Coffee Experience From a Capsule. According to UK Barista Champion Colonna-Dashwood, ‘we as an industry are so focused on craft that we aren’t always aware of the narrative of flavour.’ It is not the coffee that is the issue in batch brew versus specialty coffee – nor the technology. ‘It is that the companies using the technology do not necessarily lean towards using great coffee.’ It is thinking like this which has resulted in Colonna-Dashwood claiming that despite many people’s preconceptions, ‘capsules are one of the most perfect ways of brewing specialty coffee.’ Furthermore, the fact that the customer pays per cup – unlike when consuming instant coffee or purchasing a bag of coffee – totally changes one’s perception of the value.’ In other words, consumers may be willing to pay more per cup. Surely food for thought?


Tibor Varady, owner of Espresso Embassy, closed session two with a presention on Budapest Blooming – a Subjective Look at The Development of The Local Specialty Coffee Scene, 2010-2016. Coffee Island’s CEO Konstantinos Konstantinopoulos opened session three and spoke on Raising the Bar of Quality. He was followed by a presentation on Changing Without Changing by Hans Tietema, Owner of Kaldi. Tietema stated that the industry must now make people feel welcome in its coffee shops. ‘I don’t much believe in stores,’ he confessed. ‘You can buy products 24/7 online, therefore a coffee shop has to be more than a store. It has to be an experience.’ Tietema also touched on the concept of mobile coffee bars as a successful method of marketing. ‘We never get sent pictures of our stores, but we always get sent pictures of our mobile carts.’


The European Coffee Symposium Conference concluded with a panel discussion on Rolling Out Food In a European Coffee Chain – The Do’s and Don’ts. Here’s the prestigious line-up along with some key quotes from the debate:

Paul Ettinger – Development Director, Caffe Nero

‘You need to get your timing right – do not go too early.’

‘Do not assume that a product is going to work culturally.’

‘You need to decide what your pillars are – what are you not willing to compromise on? After that, you can localise.’

‘Work with good local suppliers.’

Marco Zacharia – Head of Food, Caffe Nero

‘You need to know your market and what works locally – have someone on the ground.’

‘Really good merchandising should make the choice for the customer – and fast!’

Filip Spevak – Retail Partner, Insomnia Coffee

‘I am surprised by the number of operators who do not think about how their food offering matches with their coffee.’

‘Food can increase your opening times – we have to pay rent 24 hours a day, so you may as well utilise your premises and offer food around the clock.’

Adam Mularuk – Brand President of Starbucks, AmRest

‘One size does not fit all.’

Marco Scharf – CEO, Coffeeshop Company

A muffin is not a muffin in every country – you can vary the taste profiles to the local market.’

‘Ask your self what food offering is applicable for the time of day.’

‘You have to give people what they want – breakfast is different in each country for example.’