Growing coffee culture in the UK

It’s been a little quite here on the Café Spaces blog, as I’ve been working on getting some of the research written up and published, and exploring new research avenues. More regular blog posts will resume shortly.


This morning BBC Breakfast were reporting from the Costa Coffee roastery in Lambeth commenting on the growth of popularity in the coffee in the UK. It’s always nice as a researcher to see your research topic appearing in the news, it’s a reminder that what you’re doing is still relevant. Just this week I’ve submitted a journal article on the rise of café culture in the UK, and why it is an important research topic.

The BBC reporter cited a new report which suggests there are now 20 times more coffee shops than in the late 1990s. I became interested in the growth of the café industry simply from noticing the growing presence in UK high streets and beyond. This number didn’t surprise me. As I highlighted in an article on the Conversation last year, it’s estimated that around one in five people visit a coffee shop in the UK on a daily basis, which is up from around one in nine in 2009. The coffee shop industry is now worth around just over £7 billion in revenue in the UK.

From the chain coffee shops such as Costa shown in the BBC report which is investing £40 billion in a new roastery to be able to keep up with demand (from both its UK and international stores), to the growing number of independent specialty coffee shops, consumer demand is driving a continued growth in café spaces. The reporter interviewed the Managing Director of Costa Coffee who explained that the business had grown to have Costa Coffee outlets in so many places, from high streets to train stations because they went wherever the customer wanted them.


The report included a few brief clips with consumers about why coffee shops are so popular, with comments from ‘I find it better than in the office’, ‘it’s more of a social thing’, ‘great to have a space, a kind of neutral space’, to ‘it’s really creative, casual quick and we love coffee’. There are a multitude of reasons why coffee shops have become so popular, from a growing awareness of, and taste for coffee, to the desire for spaces to gather with friends/colleagues outside of the home/office – and this is at the heart of my current research project entitled ‘Spaces of Community’.

If you’re interested in researching the café industry, and some of the trends that were hinted at in today’s BBC report then perhaps consider applying to come and work with us via a PhD scholarship we currently have available at Coventry University to explore rising café societies, business diversity, consumer culture and community creation.


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