Trends and the Future of Beverage Service: Consumers Want a Multi-Sensory Experience

With a nearly five-percent projected compound annual growth rate (for 2023 to 2027), the global café and bar market (including tea cafés) is a healthy, fast evolving industry with many areas of opportunity.

Consumers today want novel or extraordinary experiences that go beyond just drinking various beverages and eating. From the music that’s playing and choice of drinkware, to the menu offerings and overall theme or ambience of a café, teahouse, bar or similar venue – they want something special and entertaining.

Just consider the rising popularity of novelty tea and coffee shop concepts, such as pet cafés (and pet-friendly cafés) and themed cafés or venues with “eatertainment”. It’s no longer just about the tea, coffee or whatever’s in the consumer’s cup (yes, that’s an important part of it) – it’s about the overall experience.

Of course, if you’re a café, teahouse, tea shop, bar or other business that sells and serves tea and/or other beverages, and you add in sustainable practices into the mix, you’ve entered the sweet spot consumers seek: the complete “tastes good, looks good, feels good” vibe.

Here are some key trends that owners and operators in the beverage service industry should watch, and which will shape the multi-sensory café experience for consumers.

Tea Continues to Be a Major Hit with Consumers

Global tea consumption rose 63 billion liters from 2013, hitting 297 billion liters in 2022. Indeed, tea and herbal varieties of tea (or tisanes) are a growing opportunity in the space as consumer demand for “calming beverages” and alternative beverage application increases. There are many variations of tea, but some of the most common are Chinese and Japanese teas, among others.

Operators of cafés and other venues should excite consumers with out-of-the-box tea creations that offer a multi-sensory experience of “Instagramable” visuals, delightful aromas and captivating tastes.

One example is ceremonial beverage making, which creates a meditative atmosphere complementing the consumer’s need to find places that offer a reprieve from the hustle and bustle. The most formal is the tea ceremony, where guests can slow down and learn to appreciate with all their senses. This stylized ritual may be a feat, but if accomplished, it can elevate the entire tea house experience for consumers (even if it’s just an occasional event).

The Flavor Genius Academy by DaVinci Gourmet can assist operators/owners, tea sommeliers, baristas and mixologists with ideas, detailed recipes, techniques (tea making is included) and pairings. It’s a one-stop resource center, where they can learn about the different variants, procedures, equipment and applications. Participants can even become what the site calls a “charista” or tea barista.

Also key for the business is having highly trained and educated staff. That's just as important as having a wide variety of high-quality and clearly visible tea selections. The staff’s know-how and enthusiasm in promoting the teas is what will seal the deal for that all-important tea purchase.

Future of Beverage Cafes - Tea Trends - Experiential
Bettys Cafe and Tea Rooms in Harrogate, North Yorkshire (Photo by: Team Jackson /

Black Coffee Is Popular; Tea Café’s Should Consider the Unthinkable: Add Coffee to the Menu!

It’s not uncommon to see tea on a coffeehouse menu — so why not do the reverse and sprinkle some coffee in your tea café or tea shop menu offering? It’s good for business, as it’ll expand your customer base.

In terms of what’s trending with coffee, it’s all about black. And in their quest for a healthier lifestyle, consumers aged 25 to 35 are forgoing milk and opting for simple black coffee, which is certainly easy to incorporate at any café.

Thanks to innovation in technology, iced black coffee is now more palatable to consumers, and as the demand grows, coffee lovers will look for new coffee bean flavors to lift their black coffee experience.

Operators can easily offer this through coffee beans infused with new flavors to provide unique tastes, or introduce new preparation techniques that offer customizable options. Consider novel brews, like coffee boba or coffee bubble tea, even coffee-tea hybrids like yuenyeung.

Post pandemic, consumers are looking for menus with drinks that are playful – whether it’s tea, coffee or any other flavored beverage.

In the end, why let coffeehouses take away business with their tea menu offerings; shouldn’t a tea-focused business have some coffee options, too?

Aside from getting the inside scoop on tea trends, the virtual Green Future Café by DaVinci Gourmet deep dives into the world of black coffee with industry insights on new ways to create, prepare and market black coffee to attract consumers with different coffee preferences.

For example, visiting the virtual Roastery – located at the back of the virtual café – will bring you to the Coffee Flavors wheel, which gives an in-depth look at both complex and mass market coffee flavors and taste profiles, aimed at giving a helping hand in creating new and exciting combinations.

Also Trending: a Seamless Customer Journey at Cafés

Menu offerings aside, consumers are also looking for a seamless customer journey when it comes to digital and physical interactions at their favorite local café.

Automated ordering systems, digital payments, digital menus and AI-powered beverage-making kiosks are changing on-site experiences. While these have become more common, it is still important for customers to feel comfortable with the process.

Tea café operators should look beyond just successfully completing an order and focus on creating a multi-sensory dining environment as well.

For example, if you’ve implemented some of these digital technologies, having dedicated staff to assist customers unfamiliar with the new tech can help with the digital transition.

Setting the right ambiance can also make a big difference to the overall customer journey, and the Green Future Café has insights on how to create a multi-sensory dining environment starting with the café’s specially curated audio playlist. The site also has tips on how to maximize your layout or operations to create a “healing” space, where customers can come in to unwind and enjoy a meditative moment.

More Inspiration on Running a Beverage/Foodservice Business

For additional insights, try the online Green Future Café, a virtual platform where beverage and foodservice operators, tea café owners, tea sommeliers, baristas, mixologists, and front of house staff can find inspiration and resources on how to run and operate their beverage-focused foodservice businesses. This virtual café, which can be accessed anytime and anywhere, offers a 360° immersive learning journey with insightful tips on how to maximize the potential of every area in a café to attract today’s consumers.

Eloise Dubuisson is the marketing director for foodservice brands and chains at Kerry Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa. To learn more about Kerry, visit

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Plan to Attend or Participate in World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024

To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024 in Las Vegas, co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit

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