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The ‘Coffee Shop Revolution’ Continues Unabated

By Joe Cox

Coffee Shop

Yet more in the media about the rise and rise of the coffee shop in the UK. It seems that café culture in Britain is immune to the recession and the constant economic doom and gloom that continues to shake the governments and financial institutions of Europe. This trend is almost certainly down to the lipstick effect but is in stark contrast to British pubs which are closing at a rate of 12 per week.

Rupert Neate, writing in the Guardian today, charts this ‘coffee shop revolution’ with a mention to Gloucester Road in Bristol, which after Holloway Road in North London, boasts more coffee shops than any other high street in the UK (23). There are a staggering 5000 branded coffee shops in the UK along with a further 5500 independently owned coffee shops, but these numbers are expected to rise sharply. Jeffery Young MD of coffee analysis firm Allegra Strategies, thinks that branded coffee shops could hit 7000 in the next few years, with a total of 18,000 outlets overall.

The rise of the coffee shop is sharp to say the least with over £2bn worth of coffee sold last year (double that in 2005). So what is it that’s fuelling this growth? It seems clear that there is a growing sophistication in the palette of the average coffee drinker, something which is leading to the emergence of a snobbery around coffee, Jeffery Young concludes. Much like the wine connoisseur, the coffee connoisseur is interested in the origin of the coffee bean and the methods used in its preparation.

This may well explain the growth of the independent coffee shops and cafes but it doesn’t explain the explosion in branded coffee shops. It seems that our love of coffee is not confined to a culturally advanced elite but has broken through any class boundaries to become ubiquitous. Café culture and the coffee shop experience are in the ascendency and it doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

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