It seems Australians can’t get enough coffee with domestic cafes enjoying growth rates of 3.2% over the past five years and predictions business is only going to get better. So how do you stay ahead of the pack?

According to industry researcher IBISWorld, there are almost 7000 cafés in Australia employing more than 86,000 people and creating $4 billion in revenue annually.

While the rising amount of competition certainly has an impact on profitability, it said the sector can expect an annual growth of 4.3% over the five years through to 2019-20.

So how do owners stay ahead of the competition?

Many use social media extensively and religiously follow trends in product selection and customer service strategies.

For Nick Pearce, Gold Coast-based founder of Blackboard Speciality Coffee, it’s all about the bean. He told Café Culture Magazine that he treats the coffee bean as a fresh ingredient and to process them fresh to get the best aroma.

“Specialty coffee roasters like us constantly buy coffee throughout the year from different places where it is in season,” he said.

“That means there is high-sugar content coming from the fruit, which makes the coffee taste so sweet and fresh when you roast it. It is extremely flavoursome.

He said social media is a highly efficient tool to engage with customers who are typically highly mobile, well-educated and have considerable funds at their disposal.

“We use Instagram to market our cafés. It is really important for social media to relate to exactly the experience that you get in the café.”

Here are some trends that may help the bottom line:

  • Forget iced coffee. Nitrogen-cooled iced coffee that is served from a tap and looks like a pint of draft beer is currently trending in the US.
  • Tasty morsels like fresh locally-sourced pastry and seasonal finger food increases street credibility and creates a strong second revenue stream.
  • Alternatives to soy milk as a lactose-free option. Almond and coconut milk for those lactose-intolerant coffee drinkers.