High Street Chains – What makes each different from one another?

starbucksTitle: What makes high street coffee chains different from each other.Subtitle: what is the best coffee house. what is better starbucks or costa. Where to go for coffee in uk.

 High street chains.

Living in any city in the UK we can be sure that there is a coffee shop within a ten minute drive from us. But have we really asked ourselves what is the difference between all of these competing chains?

So we have a vast selection such as Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero, Coffee #1, Starbucks, Pretamanger and Patisserie Valerie .  I want to focus this post  on three of the high street coffee chains which collectively I will refer to as the Big Three; Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Costa. These three chains control more than half of the high street coffee shop market which equated to a huge £3.3 billion last year. I will go on to further discuss the question of which to choose when you have too much selection. But for now;

Here are some worldy facts about coffee:

  • In the US over half of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee – that means that coffee is the source of over 75% of Americas caffeine! Thats more that any soda (think COKE or MOUNTAIN DEW) tea or energy drink!



  • Interestingly Finland drinks the most coffee per capita in the entire world! FINLAND?!
  • We’ve all heard of Fairtrade right? Well coffee is the worlds largest Fairtrade commodity in the world and that doesn’t even equate to a huge percentage in the coffee market.
  • Brazil is the worlds largest producer of coffee and unlike people think, it is the second most coffee consuming country in the world!




The coffee industry is one of the largest industries in the UK. If you’re reading this blog then you clearly know why – It’s amazing! 

Here is a low down on some pretty interesting facts about our Big Three:



  •  Starbucks was founded 45 years ago.
  • In 2008 Starbucks was ranked no 15 on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s list of of top 25 Green Power Partners for purchases of renewable energy.
  • 1 in every 600 cows in the uk provides milk exclusively for Starbucks lattes and cappuccinos ( I find this fact incredible!)
  • Starbucks employ around 14,000 people worldwide!
  • Although Starbucks is an American company, the inspiration behind its well know decor was inspired by Italian coffee houses.
  • If you’re reading this blog to get some coffee inspo for your travels, Starbucks has over 22,000 stores in over  65 countries.
  • The name Starbucks was chosen as inspiration from the novel Moby dick by Herman Melville.



C A F E  N E R O 

  • Cafe Nero is a London based company and not Italian as many people think. It is actually the blends of coffee that are Italian.
  • Nero have over 700 coffee houses worldwide in more than 7 different countries. Get blogging guys, I want to hear whether the coffee is the same throughout the world!
  • 11 years ago, Cafe Nero was crowned by the Business Week Magazine as the fastest growing company worldwide.
  • Cafe Nero maintains a secret blend that is unknown to the public. They can use up to 7 different blends of coffee to create the perfect cup.
  • In 2013 Cafe Nero was crowned the Best Tasting Coffee on the high street by which magazine.


C O S T A  C O F F E E 

high 4
Costa Mocha Heaven..
  • Costa is the largest and fastest growing coffee shop in the UK
  • In 2009 Costa opened its 1000th store. OMG!
  • Costa is the only brand out of the Big Three to have express Costa vending machines. I used to have one it my office and it was GREAT!
  • Costa has its very own coffee roastery. This means that they create their ‘own’ blend of coffee. They call it Mocha Italia which is simply just 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta which are the two main types of coffee bean worldwide.
  • The Costa Coffee Taster has his tongue insured for £10 million!! EEEK
  • In 2014 Costa Coffee sold an amazing 464 million cups in UK.



 Where to go when you are faced with too much selection?

Will it be the green glow of Starbucks Coffee, the blue hue of Cafe Nero or the burgundy brights of Costa?

I want to lay down firstly, some facts that may help you make that decision:


C A F E  N E R O:

  • Cafe Nero has established the Nero foundation. This foundation supports coffee growing communities e.g. Money is donated to schools and community amenities where the Nero coffee beans are sourced.  This means that every pound we spend in Nero, we are in some way supporting foreign communities.
  • Cafe Nero is the only one of the Big Three that provides a stamp card! This means, for us coffee addicts, that for every 10 cups we buy we get a free coffee of our choice.  It’s really exciting when your fishing out your card from your purse and realise that you’ve just bagged yourself a free one! Brownie points for this !
  • Cafe Nero is the only chain in the uk that has been crowned for producing the highest quality coffee 8 years in a row!

ConclusionCafe Nero has pretty cool credentials. You can be sure you will receive a great cuppa coffee.


C O S T A:

  • Costa coffee uses 100% renewable energy! Don’t ask me how they do it but they do. They omit 0% waste to landfil which makes the company extremely environmentally friendly. I’m not biased but that is pretty hard to come by these days.
  • Customers can request to have the used coffee beans for free. If youre thinking why would anyone want them – they are a great tool for plant fertilisation.
  • Costa Coffee uses RFA Certified beans. If you don’t know what RFA is, it stands for Rainforest Alliance. It means that the farms and forests  where the product comes from are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods. It is the ONLY chain in the UK that is certified.
  • Costa set up the Costa Foundation which is a charity aiming to relieve poverty in communities where coffee beans are sourced.

Conclusion – Costa is super environmentally friendly and you know with every cup you are giving back to the people that provided it to you. Thanks Costa.



S T A R B U C K S:

  • Starbucks has a reward scheme that offer pretty awesome prizes.So many of my friends have received free drinks just for simply being a member.
  • Starbucks is one of the only of the big three that provide promotions in store for non members and members. They often have a ‘happy hour’ for a few weeks a year which enables you to receive a free drink at a certain time if you have already bought a drink that day.  if thats too confusing ill explain. you buy your morning coffee – you keep the receipt – you come back in happy hour and use that receipt to receive a free drink.
  • Starbucks supports the legalization of same sex marriage in the US – National Organizations for Marriage received 22,000 signatures in favor of a Starbucks boycott.
  • Starbucks spends more on the healthcare of their employees that on their coffee beans – please let that sink in.

Conclusion – The CEO really cares about what matters in life. Employees and producers and us, the consumer.



Still haven’t made up your mind as to which one you prefer?

WELL, here are some of the things that we just MUST know in order to make the right decision ( its really not as serious as it sounds – you will not be punished for choosing either one 😉

I will start firstly with Starbucks, move on the Nero and end with Costa. Enjoy.

ACORN (9)Standard 8: Mocha, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Filter, Hot Chocolate, Espresso and Flat White as well as Macchiatos and Flavoured lattes.

ACORN (12)11 different coffee Frappuccino’s ( blended creamy iced drinks containing coffee), 5 different Creme Frappucino’s. ( blended creamy iced drinks without coffee) and 2 different blended iced fruit drinks.

ACORN (17).png

Cakes, muffins, chocolate confectionary, chocolate bars, sandwiches, salads, panini’s and fruit.


A T M O S P H E R E –

Starbucks always has a vibrant, metropolitan feel. As a brit, Starbucks makes me think of America. The vibe there makes me feel like I’m in NYC. The hustle and bustle, the everlasting selection and that amazing freshly brewed smell. YUM! The staff are always friendly and make me feel like they’re genuinely interested in how my day has gone and it’s always nice to have a little flirt with the hunks aswell!

Every time I have been to Starbucks I get a feeling it attracts a young crowd. There is often a storm of teens posting pictures of their Fraps on social media – It seems to be a new craze these days!

I love the vibe here. When I’m feeling motivated or inspired I always come to Starbys – thats definitely a good sign, right?

D E C O R –

The interior is always super fresh. Artsy pictures with inspirational quotes scrawled  upon them line the pastel green walls. There is always some sort of wooden, country style cabinet that houses all the bags of the different  Starbucks blends and the purchasable takeout coffee cups. I love a good shop so to incorporate that into the decor works well for me.

coffeee 3Starbucks use earthy, woody colours in their decor. They have managed to do this very cleverly because the colours make me think of the outdoors, country and fresh air. However, the fixtures and fittings give it a hip modern feel. Greens and browns, mahogany and greys line the place. It really is a combination that shouldn’t work but it does.

The coffee bar is layered full of extra purchasable items such as mini chocolates, shortbreads, marshmallows and lollies. The glass food cabinet stores all the tasty treats so when you are queueing you are staring right at all the calories you could consume – I love it!

C O M F O R T –

Always so comfy in Starbucks. Wooden chairs or couches. Most stores have a few bar stools too. I cant speak for the number of seats or lack thereof because it really depends if its busy and where it is located. The chairs are pretty standard mahogany – nothing quirky, nothing special but they do the job.


O V E R A L L –

Quality, comfort, friendliness of staff, urban vibe and huge selection make it great bustling joint to meet with friends. Not so great if you want a peaceful few hours on the laptop un-disturbed. I think out of the Big Three Starbucks offers the biggest drinks selection and to be honest, as we’re here for the coffee – thats a pretty important point.


ACORN (10)Standard 8: Mocha, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Filter, Hot Chocolate, Espresso and Flat White as well as the famed Milano Hot Choc and chai lattes.

ACORN (16) Milano, White Hot Choc, 4 frappe creme, frappe milkshakes, fruit boosters.

ACORN (18)

Cakes, porridge, soups, sandwiches, panini’s and a selection of fresh pastries.


A T M O S P H E R E –

I get a very subdued vibe from Nero. I always  find it quiet and relaxing ( I’m not saying this is a bad thing). I feel like it attracts an older possibly more sophisticated audience. Staff are always friendly and you can very clearly see them making your drink as the coffee machines are on the back wall which is nice.  I always feel like I am walking into an Italian coffee shop in the middle of Milan, its very relaxed very inviting.

D E C O R –

Always clean, crisp and fresh. The blues and burgundys, the many pictures of italy, the many historical images. It almost makes me feel that I’m at my grandparents’ house looking at old pictures of the family. It makes me feel at home. The cafes are decorated with a mixture of tiles, bricks and paints. For me this is modern with a charming touch, it makes it feel authentic.


Similar to Starbucks and Costa coffee the menu is on a black board behind the bar. As with Starbucks the glass food cabinet sits at the side of the bar with little treats lining the front of the bar. You can buy authentic mini Italian chocolates and Italian biscuits. This gives it that Italian feel.

C O M F O R T –

Nero have a selection of furniture. From leather sofas, bar stools, high fabric chairs, leather benches and tub chairs. It really does vary and that variety makes it seem classy. Almost as if it has been thrown together by an Italian designer, someone that has taken about 3 minutes to decide where he wants things and it all just fits. Always so comfy, so relaxing.

O V E R A L L –

It really is somewhere that you would take your mum for a coffee and a chat ( I ALWAYS bring my mum to Nero). It suits that grown up, sophisticated vibe. The coffee is great – they serve each cup with two shots, the feel is Italian and the look is authentic.




ACORN (11)Standard 8:  Mocha, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Filter, Hot Chocolate, Espresso and Flat White as well as the Italian Cortado.

ACORN (15)6 different types of latte including the famous gingerbread latte and 4 different types of iced drink.

ACORN (19).png

 Cakes, muffins, sandwiches, salads, panini’s, breakfast, tray bakes and fruit.


A T M O S P H E R E –

Costa, like Starbucks has that modern vibe. The atmosphere, I feel, can either be bustling or it can be quiet.

D E C O R –

With the burgundy and amber hues Costa to me always seems a bit dated. The use of tiles and the dark colours I find it a bit drab. There are a selection of pictures hanging on the walls which gives it that homely feel. It really reminds of a French coffee shop, I dont get any ‘Italian’ theme.

C O M F O R T –

Mixture of leather chairs, standard mahogany table and huge seats. Leather tub chairs are great for relaxing and I also find that Costa has a huge amount of plug points so you will always find a comfy seat with easy access to electricity – good if you’re working on your laptop. If you’ve read the comfort sections of the above paragraph I would say Costa is pretty much the same. Standard seats and bar stools and bar tables (bonus). Comfy and convenient.

O V E R A L L –

If you want to work, get those dissertations done then Costa is the one for you. If you’re looking for a gathering its great but if you’re looking to relax, you will get lucky with the tempo if you find the right time of day. One thing I love is that the coffee is ALWAYS piping hot!

OK – so that concludes my coffee blog on the high street chains. If you have any questions or feel you want to challenge my opinion then please leave your details below and i will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.



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