The European Specialty Coffee is a fairly large market, contributing to 30% of the global consumption. It is also a saturated market, with Brazil and Vietnam providing for half of Europe’s green coffee. While in the next couple of years, the consumption is likely to get stabilized, Europe will continue to be an attractive market for coffee. This opens avenues for smaller players, more focussed on quality and long-term relationships than price points.
The European specialty coffee market has been exhibiting significant growth in the last 5 years. It is undoubtedly a niche segment, with opportunities galore for suppliers with high value and quality offerings. This is quite an interesting time for the European coffee market, considering there is high demand for both mainstream coffee blends as well as their more expensive, higher quality counterparts. The increasing popularity of specialty coffee is reflected in the growing number of small coffee roasters and local brands & baristas.
There isn’t much of Europe-specific data yet around specialty coffee consumption, partly because of a lack of Industry consensus on what falls under ‘specialty coffee’. Research does state that North-western Europe has seen a more pronounced development in this regard, perhaps because of the region’s relatively advanced coffee culture coupled with high consumer awareness and income levels. The East European specialty coffee market on the other hand is smaller but definitely shows growth potential, especially in cities like Krakow and Prague with the latter even having a dedicated coffee festival!
A trend that is gaining a strong foothold in the European market is the demand for sustainability. With consumers getting increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their brew, they are demanding stricter regulations regarding the origin of the products they consume.
All vendors involved in the coffee value chain, including importers, roasters and retailers are now putting traceability systems in place to record the entire product cycle. Major brands in the coffee industry are initiating sustainability programs and working towards making their products environment friendly.
Undoubtedly, the European specialty coffee market is exhibiting good growth and is likely to look up further. In spite of that, research says that currently most European consumers cannot differentiate between quality and sub-standard coffee and more often than not, choose to buy the latter from mainstream, relatively less expensive brands.