The Queen's Head, the White Hart, The Kings Arms or The Crown – with roughly 53,000 pubs in the UK alone, it's fair to say that we British love a drink. But, according to a recent study by commercial coffee machine supplier Honest Coffees, hanging out at your local may be taking on a different meaning.
Coffee culture is on the rise, and in cities like Cardiff and London almost half of all drinking establishments are coffee shops rather than pubs. Honest Coffees have researched data from the 20 most populated cities in the UK to find out which are more coffee-friendly and which have more of a pub culture.
How does yours rank? Use the infographic below to see how your city fares on the pub culture/coffee culture scale:
The study found that Cardiff has the highest ratio of coffee shops to pubs in the UK (46% of drinking establishments are coffee shops), followed by cosmopolitan London and Belfast. Cities with more of a pub culture include Sunderland (where 80% of all drinking establishments are pubs); Hull and Nottingham.
Coffee itself is nothing new to the UK, and despite the increase in coffee shops, the amount of coffee we drink has remained unchanged (according to analysts at Barclays). Rather, the way we drink coffee has changed whereby people prefer to visit coffee shops and socialise, rather than drink their own coffee at home. With this movement towards really enjoying our coffee rather than seeing it as a caffeine fix comes a culture that has many benefits beyond a mere pick-me-up.
Honest Coffees founder Wyatt Cavalier says:
“Pubs by their very name are public meeting places and have always been a great venue to meet in a social setting. The coffee shop offers a new place for socialising that fills a hole in British society. Coffee shops tend to be more female-orientated, family-friendly and are open all day. And while alcohol is classified as a downer, coffee is an upper, which is why it makes sense that the growth of coffee culture also perpetuates a healthier, more active society.
“Thousands of pubs up and down the country have started to embrace the coffee shop culture, becoming more and more inclusive and a more attractive proposition for families and a wider market generally. We think that's a great thing so long may it continue.”
But far from being a new phenomenon, the emergence of coffee culture actually harks back to 17th– and 18th-century London, where coffee shops, rather than pubs, were the meeting places of artists, poets, socialites, and politicians alike. This in some ways mirrors the way that we are beginning to use coffee shops in the current day.
And despite Britain's love for a pint, a nationwide survey of 2,000 people by Honest Coffees found that 74% of Brits would quit alcohol over caffeine if they had to choose. These statistics also varied greatly from region to region, with a whopping 79% of Londoners and South Westerners choosing caffeine over booze, whereas 33% of Yorkshiremen and West Midlanders preferred alcohol. On a country level, the Northern Irish were up there as the biggest boozers, with 45% saying they could not do without their Guinness. And when it comes to kickstarting their day, 36% of Brits say they struggle to start their work day without a cuppa.
When it comes to choice of coffee, the café latte appears to be the nation's favoured blend (29%); followed by Cappuccino (26%); Americano (18.5%); Flat white (13%) and Mocha (6.5%).
Finally, Honest Coffees tested respondents on their knowledge of coffee with the question: What is a Macchiato? 34.5% of people answered correctly in saying it is as an espresso with a dash of frothy steamed milk. Interestingly, when broken down on a regional level, it appears the people of the South East of the country are aspiring coffee connoisseurs, with 38% answering correctly. Demand for good quality coffee is clearly on the rise there! Incidentally, West Midlanders scored the lowest, with only 17% answering the question correctly.
“More and more people are unwilling to accept anything less than ethically-sourced, high-quality coffee that is made properly, which is what consumers now expect from their local coffee shop,” explains Wyatt. “This new sense of awareness of what people put into their bodies is part of a larger, health-conscious ideology that links to what we refer to as coffee culture.”