We are always hearing about the success of the Coffee Shop, how it has been one of the big winners during the recession, that the public enjoy their affordable treat and how the big coffee shop chains have expanded at an ever increasing rate.

By improving their coffee offer the coffee shop competitors are now getting growth themselves. The traditional fast food and sandwich shops like McDonald’s and Pret-a-Manger, the pub operators like Wetherspoons have transformed the way they serve coffee and made it a core part of their business. They know that it is a key ingredient to attracting the all day trading they need to sweat their assets. Greggs are even launching a flat white this year!

Sales in traditional coffee shops are up overall on last year, however food bought with a coffee is on a downward trend. There are several reasons for this trend:

  • The perceived quality and freshness of coffee shop food
  • The variety and value that is now available from the competition
  • The improved coffee offer from the more food based operators

Today’s consumers are much more adventurous and willing to try new things, so are constantly on the lookout for new types of food. They suffer from FOMO or fear of missing out and because of social media they are always aware of the new trends.

The chains like Costa and Starbucks are reacting by doing joint ventures with Chop’d  http://www.costa.co.uk/promo/15-09-01-chopd-salads/ and Pod http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Venues/Starbucks-POD-healthy-fast-food and trying to make their food offer more attractive and varied.

It’s almost impossible for the independent coffee shop to compete on price with the buying power and integrated supply chains of the large chains, but it’s much easier for them to compete on freshness and innovation.

The new breed of independent coffee shops are constantly evolving and bringing new ideas to the market, making life difficult for the chains as it’s more difficult to introduce something new to 2000 shops than it is to one.

The good news for the specialist coffee shop is that as people are getting more and more educated in how a great coffee should taste, they also understand that a coffee from an automatic machine is not as good as one that is hand crafted by a barista.  Because coffee is now part of people’s everyday life, they want to have their favourite drink served by their favourite barista.


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