In UK, Coffee Drinks Defy Predictions

December 27, 2010

In a country where tea used to be so important that the afternoon High Tea has long been a tourist attraction, coffee is challenging the status quo. The coffee shop boom begun a few years ago continues to echo in the British street. Despite the current “recession”, Brits are not forgoing their coffee breaks, as was predicted. Instead, their support of coffee shops has fueled an increase in coffee shop sales of 13 percent. In fact, even with the economic challenges, over 800 new coffee shops were started in 2010. That speaks success in anyone’s book.

British economists must be drowning their embarrassment in their teapots. They had wrongly assumed that coffee drinks were a luxury that would be done away with when money got tight. Statistics show how wrong they were. Most of the new growth occurred in outlets like McDonald’s, who now ranks third in coffee drink sales in the UK and sells about 84 million cups of coffee a year there. Coffee shop operators got busy and redesigned their shops with more ambiance. They also became more creative, adding new coffee drinks to the menu, such as the “flat white”. This new coffee drink is stronger than a latte and has more milk than a cappuccino.

Why were the economists wrong? It seems that espresso coffee drinks have stolen the hearts of the Brits, who figure that a couple of British pounds (about $3.85) are a small price to pay for a half an hour of peaceful escape in a warm atmosphere. Though there is talk of the revival of tea shops, the coffee shop owners are not worried.

The internet chatter about coffee drink sales in the US during this recession year also indicates that we at least held steady. People seem reluctant to give up their coffee. We coffee lovers have maintained all along through the economic downturn that coffee is a comfort food and people will still make their trips to the coffee shop, or brew their own. We might give up a lot of other luxuries, but we’ll find a way to enjoy our coffee.

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