Few establishments have seen the level of ongoing success achieved by coffee shops. Once primarily seen as a stop-and-go location, coffee shops are now an intrinsic part of British life which many of us turn to for both socialising and working.
And there’s no hint of coffee shops’ popularity decreasing any time soon, even if the cafe experience has changed slightly since the advent of COVID.
But how have coffee shops managed almost unprecedented bricks-and-mortar success in the modern digital age? As one of the fastest-growing coffee chains in the UK, we’ve experienced this prosperity first-hand, inspiring us to delve into the many reasons why coffee shops continue to remain such a prominent part of our lives.
A Nation of Coffee Lovers
First things first, people love a trip to their local coffee shop because they like drinking coffee. If the products weren’t good, the public wouldn’t keep coming back!
According to the World Coffee Portal’s 2021 survey, over a fifth of UK coffee drinkers have four or more cups of coffee a day – that’s a lot of opportunity for coffee shops to shine. From the same survey, over a fifth also stated they visited a coffee shop up to three times a week.
With the increasing variety and customisation options now available, there are more ways to enjoy our coffee than ever. And let’s not forget that most good coffee shops will also serve all manner of food and non-coffee beverages, providing the ideal one-stop shop for a chance to recharge.
Professional, Quality Coffee
Another reason people just can’t keep away from their local coffee shop is the quality of coffee that’s on offer. When you go to a cafe, an expert barista can make even the most elaborate coffee creation with ease – you don’t get that at home!
With professional coffee machines, steamers and premium coffee, customer’s get the ultimate coffee experience that, for many, cannot be achieved at home. For the average coffee drinker, this is the most convenient way to enjoy high-quality coffee.
Now more than ever, people are ditching quick and easy coffee in search of great flavours and unique ideas.
Artisan Coffee Culture
The growing demand for great coffee moments is leading to a boom in artisanal coffee. The common joke of not understanding the coffee shop menu is evidence of this explosion of more inventive ideas.
However, this lean towards speciality coffee is backed by a willing audience. People are now excited to try different coffee drinks from across the world and are eager to travel to their favourite coffee shops for these experiences.
As more options become available, people are seeing there’s a world of coffee beyond a latte – although those certainly aren’t going anywhere.
There’s an increasing trend of people turning towards coffee as an essential part of a healthy routine, especially when it is free of milk, cream and added sugar.
What Does the Modern Coffee Consumer Want?
The modern coffee shop customer is willing to spend a little more on great coffee with outstanding flavour. The quality of the coffee is the top priority for visitors to both branded and independent coffee stores.
However, the modern coffee drinker also wants to invest in a brand they can trust, with values they can support. Sustainable and ethical coffee is also a big draw for customers – this is something we discuss further down.
The Coffee Shop Experience
So, people like coffee, but a coffee shop is about more than just those roasted beans! It’s time to consider what the quintessential coffee shop experience actually is and why it means so much to people.
A Relaxed Social Space
One of the primary reasons why coffee shops have become so popular over the last decade is the feeling of comfort and relaxation they can provide. This feeling is especially prevalent when you compare coffee shops to other competing locations, such as restaurants, pubs and fast-food chains.
Coffee shops offer a uniquely calm atmosphere where people can gather with family and friends to catch up over a cup of something warm.
A Hub for the Community
As coffee shops are often in central, easily accessible locations, they are the ideal spot for connection and often serve to strengthen the community.
In the digital age, communication is frequently done through a screen, and coffee shops offer a friendly smile for those who feel isolated.
These locations can also serve as multi-functional spaces where events can be hosted, once again supporting the local community and bringing it together.
Working in Coffee Shops
Aside from the social benefits offered by coffee shops, they also provide a wonderful space to work and study.
As working from home and flexible work hours become more popular, more people are migrating from their usual office to spend at least some portion of the working day setting up shop in a cafe.
Why are Coffee Shops Popular Workspaces?
A good coffee shop will create a warm, homely feel, yet at the same time create spaces where people can sit and work in relative privacy. This balance is why the coffee shop has overtaken places such as libraries, becoming the go-to location for those freelancing or working out of the office.
With an increasing number of people pursuing these working arrangements, coffee shops will only continue to become more popular.
Even for businesses and employees still working in a traditional manner, the coffee shop offers the perfect place to spend informal meetings.
Ethical & Sustainable Coffee
Modern coffee consumers want their coffee connected to a story – an emotional foundation has always been one of the unique selling points of the coffee shop industry.
When customers are given a chance to understand where their coffee has come from and who has had a hand in producing it, they can build a more trusting relationship with the brand.
Authenticity and transparency are things consumers are looking for when they engage with the ethical and sustainable stories posed by a coffee shop. Brands that back up their public values with action and reflective business practices are the ones that thrive.
The most successful coffee shops have genuine ethical beliefs that underpin their business.
Here at Esquires Coffee, we are hugely proud of our values that have been honed and shaped over our many years of experience in the industry. We also work hard to ensure that these beliefs are upheld across all our stores.
Our coffee shops are built around the use of high-quality and responsibly-sourced ingredients in everything, from our coffee to cold-pressed juices and artisan food. We proudly promote these ideas of equality and fairness, helping create a customer base that shares our passions.
Are Coffee Shops Sustainable?
Like any other sector, there is still a long way to go when it comes to increasing sustainability in coffee shops. However, many coffee outlets have been leading the charge in this regard as they seek more sustainable methods, showing an active interest in what can be done to make the coffee farming process more sustainable and fair for the farmers.
There are many things coffee shops can do to help their customers become more eco-friendly, starting with how they tackle issues of sustainability in their own establishment. Simple things like encouraging customers to purchase reusable cups, selling Fairtrade products and supporting organisations like the Rainforest Alliance all show your patrons you are committed to helping improve coffee shop sustainability.
Are Coffee Shops Good Business?
Because of the well-documented success and undeniable popularity of coffee shops, they make an excellent business venture!
So long as you have business acumen, a good location and a strong brand behind you, there is an excellent chance for success in the coffee shop sector.
Steady, Consistent Growth
When bricks-and-mortar stores are constantly losing business to larger online rivals, the reliable growth offered by coffee shops is an attractive prospect. If you’re looking to open a store, there are few better options right now.
The recent success of coffee shops cannot be denied. However, there is continued optimism that the sector’s growth is yet to fully mature. Led by a fluid millennial generation flying the flag for local, sustainable businesses, the coffee shop industry shows plenty of room for further development in the future.
The Benefits of Joining a Coffee Shop Franchising
Despite the evident prosperity waiting to be tapped in the coffee shop industry, starting from scratch can be a daunting prospect, even for the savviest entrepreneur. This is why franchising can often offer the best of both worlds.
When you franchise with Esquires Coffee, you get the brand, experience and buying power of a large chain, combined with the ethics, sustainability and artisanal quality of an independent store. We help our franchisees become pillars in their local community, promoting that unique local feel that consumers love.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to harness the popularity of coffee shops and turn that interest into a thriving business, why not consider becoming an Esquires Coffee franchise partner?
Find out more about the cost of a UK franchise below to start thinking about your options.
About the author - Jack Anderson
Jack has been working in the franchise sector for over 12 years and is our in-house guru on all things business! Jack is also a keen hiker and can be found in some of the UK's best walking spots on the weekends.