The UK’s branded coffee chain market continues to expand rapidly, exceeding 3,000 outlets for the first time in May 2007 and an estimated £1.3 billion in turnover, according to new research from Allegra Strategies.

Its report, UK Coffee Craze Continues, forecasts the coffee shop market will nearly double over the next decade to reach up to 6,000 outlets and turnover in excess of £2.5bn within seven to 10 years.

Results from more than 6,300 telephone and face-to-face interviews with UK consumers revealed that they were visiting branded coffee chains more frequently than ever before. More than 11 million adults visit coffee shops at least once a week and more than 20 million at least once a month, the report said.

Starbucks, with 540 shops, is the UK’s favourite coffee chain, with 27% of UK coffee shop visitors rating it as their favourite brand, said the report. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee at 15%, M&S Café Revive at 10% and Caffè Nero at 7% are the next most popular.

Costa Coffee is the UK’s fastest-growing coffee chain, with 555 outlets in April 2007 and a 24.7% share of the market, the research suggested. "Convenience of location" remains the most important reason consumers select a specific coffee shop and average customer spend has increased more than 5% a year over the past three years.

UK consumers were also seeking a wider array of food and drink, including Fairtrade, organics and healthy options, and are eating and drinking more on-the-move, the findings suggested.