Time For Coffee?

Have you noticed the dramatic increase in the number of coffee shops that have sprung up in the last few years on our high streets, in our shopping centres and within department stores? Even petrol stations, garden centres, book shops, schools and clothing retailers now have coffee outlets within their premisies. Greggs the bakers has recently opened 'Moment', to compete with the big names like Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero. My local Moment is already pulling in customers in great numbers on a Saturday morning, much to the dismay of Costa's local manager.

So why do we tend to frequent one coffee shop more than any another? Is it the quality or type of coffee, the service, the atmosphere, the food on offer, or the convenience?

It is no longer a question of there only being two coffee choices on offer, as years ago - with milk or without milk. Now every coffee shop is offering a vast array of choices from Latte to Cappuccino, from Macchiato to Mocha, to Blended and to Iced, with a range of milk options, from full to skimmed, to semi skimmed, to soya to flavoured. And the cup size? From small to extra large. As for the food to accompany our coffee, there is everything from muffins to wraps to whoopie pies to baguettes to paninis to porridge and panetone - to name but a few offerings. Then there is the 'ethical practices' of our coffee shop choice. Do they sell Fairtrade coffee or Rainforest Alliance? Is it organic coffee or UTZ? Maybe your favourite coffee shop makes a great herbal tea or a mouthwatering hot chocolate and the fruit juices are the 'Real' thing? Do you always 'take-away' your coffee on the way to work or think seriously about the cost of the 'drink-in' by comparison?

What is clear, is that we all have our very own personal reasons for the coffee we choose and the place where we buy it. I must admit to avoiding one major coffee chain, as I don't like their 'chunky' mugs! As for the coffee shop industry itself, they clearly take their business very seriously. A friend of mine recentlty established a Starbucks outlet in a college and the specialist training provided by the company to the trainee baristas' was very intense and very particular - there was a Starbuck's way of frothing the milk, cleaning the machine, holding the cup and addressing the customer!

As part of a definitive research project into the UK coffee shop market, Allegra Strategies is conducting a major survey with people like you and me who have a view on coffee shops. It will be the biggest survey ever and is not just for coffee drinkers, but for anyone who enjoys spending time in coffee shops and increasing numbers of us clearly do! Hearing the opinons of customers is important to the coffee shop industry and the comments received from the survey will be passed to them, though only as anonymous and aggregated information. Everything shared in the research will be held in the strictest confidence and no names or data will be shared with anyone. 

I completed the survey yesterday and it is extensive and took me 20 minutes. On completion of this survey, names will be entered into a prize draw where you have a chance to win an iPAD, with lots of runner up prizes. For me though, it's more about telling the coffee shops what I think!  The survey is accessible at:


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