Costa Coffee today (Wednesday, 8 April) broke through the 900-store mark as the branded coffee shop sector showed little sign of recessionary slowdown. With the opening of a new outlet in London’s Piccadilly on Wednesday, a spokesperson told British Baker that Costa would be opening 100 stores in 2009, despite initial industry uncertainty about how recession would affect café culture.

She said: “Costa has had a great year of expansion. We now have over 1,300 stores in 25 markets. Over the coming year, we hope to open around 100 stores in the UK and around another 100 internationally. In the UK, we will look to expand in areas that don’t already have a Costa and build on our presence at motorway service areas and in-store at Tesco. Internationally, we will look to grow our presence in our existing markets.”

Costa recently stepped up its “coffee war” with Starbucks, with a marketing campaign that featured independent market research suggesting that customers preferred Costa’s coffee blend over that of its leading rival – the second-placed cafe chain behind Costa on store numbers.

Costa’s chief taster Gennaro Pelliccia, who recently made headlines for insuring his tongue for £10 million, told BB that the current marketing campaign followed “many many years of trying to tell everyone how much better our coffee is”.

Costa also spent £150,000 on the opening this week of its third barista training academy in Newbury, launched to deal with the chain’s growth ambitions, with 4,500 staff expected to be trained across the group this year.