Rise of the Independent Cafe Scene

Rise of the Independent Cafe Scene

Without question, coffee is the most popular drink in the world. Together, we now consume over 400 billion cups of coffee globally every single year!

Since coffee first arrived in the United Kingdom in the 17th century for the very first time commercially – which led to the first café opening in Oxford, 1650 – coffee production and consumption has taken the world by storm; and a far bigger one than the kind you’d find in a teacup.

No more is this typified than by the rising popularity of the coffee café sector in the UK.

In 2015, the number of coffee shops in the UK was estimated at over 20,500, according to the Project Cafe 2016 UK report from the internationally renowned and respected Allegra World Coffee Portal.

This same report also predicts that the total UK coffee shop market, which currently represents a turnover of almost £8 billion, will exceed 30,000 outlets and break the £15 billion turnover barrier by 2025, representing an increase of almost 33% and 50% respectively!

Jeffrey Young, Managing Director of The Allegra Group stated the following: "When we started writing about the coffee market in 1999, we were told that the market had reached saturation – the mug is already full.

“Since then, when Starbucks had only just entered the UK and Costa had about 100 outlets, the market has grown sevenfold and could double over the next decade."

Growth of independent coffee shops – coffee tasting as a sensory examination

However, the independent coffee shop scene has also grown immensely in recent years.

According to a survey by the Caffè Culture Show, the UK’s Independent coffee sector is flourishing – with nearly a third (31.1%) of business owners reporting a turnover improvement of 20% or more.

Additionally, 24.6% of independent coffee shop owners reported an average turnover of over £200,000 per branch location in 2015, with sales of coffee itself representing the biggest source of growth in 2015 (50.5%), followed by lunch (41.9%), and breakfast (26.8%).

The non-specialist sector, from pubs to supermarkets, has also increased its emphasis on quality coffee in recent years as consumers' appetite for the beverage and for the relaxed, social environment of coffee shops has grown.

Jeffrey Young, Allegra MD, elaborated on his earlier comments: "Britain is becoming a nation of coffee connoisseurs. Coffee is becoming like wine – people want to learn how to taste it, where it's from, how it’s made, the thirst and the desire to have better quality coffee is growing."

Coffee consumption trends in the UK

In 2013 alone, we spent £730 million on coffee in the UK; with over 2 billion cups of coffee bought and enjoyed throughout the nation’s host of coffee shops.

Despite these huge figures, there is undoubtedly still room for further growth. To find evidence of this, all we need to do is take a look at the levels of current level of coffee consumption throughout other countries.

Although the USA consumes the most coffee per quantity, the sheer size of America plays a huge part in this statistic, so the fair way to assess how a country consumes its coffee is to analyse the consumption per capita. That is, the average amount consumed by an individual per person per year.

The number 1 country for coffee consumption per country is the European country of Finland at a whopping 9.6kg per capita, followed by its Scandinavian neighbour Norway at 7.2kg. USA is number 22 and 3.1kg per capita, Australia is 2.6kg per capita and the UK is number 40 at 1.6kg.

This proves that as a country, we have nowhere near yet reached our optimum level of coffee consumption.

However, we can expect our consumption to grow significantly and in a positive way due to the increasingly available access to both the knowledge and equipment needed to obtain better quality coffee products that are worth consuming more of.

To find out more about how coffee processing, take a look at our article on the taste of coffee throughout different parts of the world.
The future is bright – let the coffee beans grow!

As customers become more aware of the facts surrounding coffee preparation, e.g. whether the beans are processed naturally or are washed, and the essentialness of the small details, such as foaming milk correctly and maintaining a high quality of water, they will be looking for more from their coffee vendors.

If you sell coffee yourself, it’s important to remember that by providing the best quality coffee, you’ll keep your customers loyal and you’ll be bound to gain new customers in the process!

If you want to reap the rewards of selling coffee and being involved a big business that’s continuously on the rise, you should buy the best coffee gear possible to help you serve delicious coffee, and you can do that right here at Coffee Hit!

Take a look at our Espresso Gear, Coffee Brewing Equipment and Barista Tools categories and find the items that can put your coffee on the path to becoming the crème da la crème!

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