Traditionally, Brits are a nation of tea drinkers. In times of crisis, we stiffen our upper lips and reach for the kettle. These days, though, we’re just as likely to reach for the coffee beans as the tea bags.
According to 2008 figures from research group Allegra Strategies, Britain’s coffee culture generates an annual turnover of 2.5 billion pounds – and that’s just from coffee shops. Once you add on the sales of UK coffee beans and other coffee related equipment, it’s clear that coffee has become big business, and it’s knocked tea out of pole position to become the most popular hot drink in the country.
Most Brits favour the americano, or ‘normal’ coffee, with cappucinos topping the list of speciality coffee. Around two thirds of us take milk, and a third take sugar or some form of sweetener. The majority of British coffee is drunk in the morning, with many of us either abstaining or switching to decaffeinated after lunchtime.
Just as the preparation of the perfect cup of tea has always been a subject for controvosy – milk or tea first, bag or loose leaf, cup or mug – so we’re becoming more knowledgable about coffee, and what goes into making a delicious blend. When you’re out and about, you may always make the same order in a coffee shop, due to shortage of time or disinclination to pay a high price for something you may not enjoy. At home though, it’s worth browsing through the huge range available online to find your favourite at a great price, or try something completely new – many online retailers also supply smaller sample bags, or you could even try making up your own unique blend.
With a growing variety of coffee beans now available online in the UK, it’s never been easier for us Brits to sustain our coffee habit, and keep up the progress towards becoming a nation of coffee drinkers.