The coffee shop market looks set to be a major provider of hospitality jobs over the coming years as the sector goes from strength to strength despite the tough economic climate.
According to a new report from Allegra Strategies, even after a decade of rapid expansion, the coffee shop market is still going strong, seeing growth of 7.5 per cent in 2012 to reach £5.8 billion in turnover.
The total number of coffee shops, including branded coffee chains, independent coffee shops and those run by non-specialist operators, grew by four per cent over the past year to reach 15,723 outlets, said the report.
"The UK coffee shop market continues to astound even the most optimistic of forecasters, by growing significantly in value, in outlet numbers and also in the social psyche of the nation," said Jeffrey Young, managing director at Allegra.
"As consumers gain more opportunity to consume quality coffee through more outlets, they are making it part of their lifestyle. Britain has become a new nation of coffee drinkers."
In particular, branded coffee chains such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero have performed strongly in the face of a challenging economic environment.
The UK branded coffee chain segment now stands at 5,225 outlets while sales were very robust in 2012, growing by ten per cent to an estimated turnover of £2.3 billion.
The market has now doubled in size over the past six years to become ten times bigger than it was 15 years ago.
"High quality 'artisan' independent coffee shops are also fuelling consumer demand and driving the branded coffee shop sector to increase focus on authentic interiors, barista technique and to introduce a wider range of crafted coffees such as flat white and cortado," added Mr Young.
And the coffee market looks set to see strong growth for some time to come, according to the report.
Allegra forecasts that the total UK coffee shop market will exceed 20,000 outlets and £8 billion in turnover by 2017.
Berkeley Scott is a specialist hospitality recruitment agency