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European branded coffee shop market grows by 3.3% in recent months

Picture by Bartira Augelli for thecircular.org

European branded coffee shop market grows by 3.3% in recent months
Picture by Bartira Augelli for thecircular.org

The coffee industry has been booming since the introduction of international coffee brands in the 1990s. This growth gave rise to a new coffee subculture known as the “third wave movement,” which aimed to elevate artisanal coffee above its predecessors. 

The third wave movement marked a significant shift, emphasizing the role of baristas as skilled professionals capable of delivering top-notch coffee experiences. This focus on quality paved the way for career advancements and specialized barista training courses.

In this movement, the emphasis shifted from mere coffee exchange to value creation, with consumers actively participating in the production and consumption process. As a result, companies are now investing more in product quality and training to ensure that customers receive value for their money.

Customers within the third wave movement are willing to pay a premium for high-quality coffee, recognizing the value added by skilled baristas and superior ingredients. For a deeper dive into this concept, check out this engaging video explaining the evolution of third wave coffee and Peet’s plans for the future:

According to the 2024 Statista report, the United States emerged as the largest importer of coffee globally in 2023, followed by Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. Brazil, Switzerland, and Germany were the leading exporters of coffee that year.

Coffee has also seen a rise in popularity as a Fairtrade product worldwide, with a notable increase in UTZ certified production in 2022, totaling over 1.5 million metric tons.

In Europe, the branded coffee shop market experienced a 3.3% growth in outlets, reaching an estimated 45,008 establishments. Among these, 26,941 are focused solely on coffee, while 18,067 offer a combination of coffee and food, according to a report from Allegre World Portal.

The three largest European markets by outlet count are the UK with 10,199 establishments, Germany with 6,533, and Russia with 4,837.

The global premium café market currently sees dominance from popular international chains with a global presence. However, according to the World Coffee Portal, this market is on the brink of a significant transformation. Matthew Barry, Insights Manager of Food & Beverage at Euromonitor, suggests that the success of emerging coffee chains signals a shift in how people consume coffee away from home. He notes that many branded coffee chains are pivoting from café spaces designed for socialising to outlets geared towards convenience and on-the-go consumption.

“Looking ahead the segment’s future will be defined by speed, technology, and customisation, requiring a high degree of digitalisation, which these newer chains heavily emphasise.”

But will the rise of technology and emphasis on time efficiency overshadow the third wave movement and the traditional café as a social hub?

Blank Street co-founder Issam Freiha gave an interview with the The New York Times addressing this matter.

“We don’t need to be the most amazing cup of coffee you’ve ever had. We want to be the really good cup of coffee that you drink twice a day, every day,” he says.

In contrast to the tech-driven coffee culture, the third wave movement and the emphasis on good quality specialty coffee have experienced positive growth. According to the Specialty Market Report 2024, the specialty coffee industry is poised for substantial growth in the coming years. 

In 2023, the specialty coffee sector held a significant share of the global specialty coffee market and is projected to continue expanding. The home segment of the market is expected to see significant compound annual growth rates (CAGR) and is forecasted to maintain its position throughout the entire forecast period.

Despite the growth in specialty coffee, the Coffee World Portal believes that it marks a changing era. As the costs of operating a coffee shop continue to rise and competition becomes fiercer, established operators in Europe and the US are strongly incentivized to adopt new business models and revamp the café experience. This reinvention of the industry could help overcome the challenges faced by coffee shops in these developed markets and propel growth.

Pink and Blue Collage Scrapbook Data Infographic by Bartira Augelli
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