Despite high street domination by the branded coffee chains, it is independent coffee shops that consumers want, according to new research.

The research by The Caffè Culture Show, the annual event for the UK café industry, has revealed that more than three in five (62.5%) consumers prefer an independent coffee shop, rather than from a chain operator (25.5%). 

Half (50.9%) would like to see more independent coffee shops, while only 3.2% want to see the high street chains expand. 

Most interestingly for the bakery sector, 21.2% of people surveyed said that they visit coffee shops to eat meals and snacks. Forty-eight percent visit coffee shops several times a week, and 12.4% visit every day.

The quality of coffee served is the biggest motivating factor in choosing which coffee shop to visit (81.3%), and 82.5% don’t return if it’s not up to scratch. 

Location (44.9%), staff (30.9%), and ambience & atmosphere (29.2%) are the next biggest reasons why customers return. Poor cleanliness and hygiene (48.5%), bad service (44.2%) and long waiting times (37.6%) are what would be most off-putting, according to the research.

Trying to replicate

Event director Cheryl Carroll said: “It’s interesting to see how many are trying to replicate the unique experience and customer service that is synonymous with independent operators.

“The findings clearly show who is winning in the popularity stakes, with large numbers wanting to see growth in that part of the market.”   

This week, coffee shops were accused of making false recycling claims.