The UK coffee market is booming, with an estimated 20,728 outlets operating up and down the country. According to the latest report from Allegra World Coffee Portal, Project Cafe 2016, the sector experienced a sales growth of 10% compared to last year. The success of the culture is such that everyone is getting in on the act. From pubs and supermarkets to gyms and petrol stations – you’d be hard pushed to go anywhere without coming across a coffee of some kind.

The popularity of coffee has been driven by consumer tastes  and their demands for a quality brew. As a result the quality of coffee is now far superior to that of previous years thanks to chains and independent outlets championing barista-style coffee machines. “Consumers truly understand the complexities of this en-vogue drink,” says Roger Heap, managing director of Jura UK. “Therefore, it’s important for operators to ensure that they offer the very best quality coffee and communicate it’s origin, as well as their own knowledge.”

Market Trends

With the Project Cafe 2016 report also highlighting an increase in coffee coffee shop visits – with 16% visiting one at least once a day last year compared to 14% the previous year – it’s clear that buying coffee out of home has changed from a luxury to a necessity. It therefore comes as no great shock to learn that coffee shop visitors drink an estimated 2.2bn cups of coffee per year. According the report, Costa, voted the nations favourite chain by Allegra’s independent panel of consumers, is the number one seller of speciality coffee with an estimated 169m cups sold each year.

Although the major branded chains remain successful, the demand for quality coffee has seen a shift in consumer habits with artisan chains also experiencing significant growth. The rise in quality has raised consumer expectations, and the industry has responded to these demands with more independent coffee houses popping up and expanding into chains themselves.

Today’s consumers know more about coffee than in years gone by, which has resulted in a decline in instant coffee in favour of it’s freshly ground counterpart. This also means that they know exactly what they want and how it should be served.

Technology is at everyone’s fingertips and the introduction of apps means it is now easier than ever for consumers to get what they want in double quick time. Customers are now able to customise their coffee and record their preferable strength, size and milk to froth ratio. Given the relatively low price point of coffee and it’s accompaniments, it’s also becoming more commonplace for consumers to pay with their mobile phones.

With knowledge comes power, as they say, and UK consumers are the driving force behind the move towards speciality coffees, artisan coffees, single origin blends and single estate beans. Long gone are the days of milky coffees – the majority of today’s consumers are looking for something different in terms of flavour and less calorific than the dairy and syrup laden brews commonly offered.

Article from the June 2016 issue of Ooh Magazine