Costa Coffee

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Costa Coffee
Industry Hospitality
Founded 1971 (London)
Founder Bruno and Sergio Costa
Headquarters Dunstable, England, United Kingdom
Number of locations
over 2,861 (9 May 2014)
Area served
United Kingdom, Ireland, Channel Islands, Spain, Malta, South Asia, China, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe,
Key people
Chris Rogers
(managing director)
Jason Cotta
(Managing director of Costa Retail UK)
Products Coffee, tea, soft drinks, sandwiches, and baked goods.
£340.9 million (2009/10)[1]
Parent Whitbread PLC

Costa Coffee is a British multinational coffeehouse company headquartered in Dunstable, United Kingdom, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitbread. It is the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world behind Starbucks and the largest in the United Kingdom.[2]

Costa Coffee was founded in London in 1971 by the brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa as a wholesale operation supplying roasted coffee to caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops. Acquired by Whitbread in 1995, it has since grown to over 2,861 stores across 30 countries. The business has 1,755 UK restaurants, over 3,500 Costa Express vending facilities and a further 1,106 outlets overseas. [3]


Bruno and Sergio Costa founded a coffee roastery in Lambeth, London, in 1971, supplying local caterers.[4] Costa branched out to retailing coffee in 1978, when its first store opened in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London.

In 1995, the business was acquired by Whitbread, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary. In 2009, Costa celebrated the opening of its 1,000th store - in Cardiff. In December 2009, Costa Coffee agreed to acquire Coffee Heaven for £36 million, adding 79 stores in central and eastern Europe.[5] By the end of 2010, the company had overtaken Starbucks in the UK, reaching a 46.5% market share.[6]



A Costa Coffee branch in Sutton, Greater London
A standard Costa Coffee branch in Cyprus

Costa Coffee operates 1,755 outlets in the United Kingdom as of May 2014. Internationally, it operates 1,106 stores throughout the world in 30 countries.[7]

As well as their usual high street location, Costa Coffee outlets can be found in airports and within Waterstone's bookstores, WHSmith, Homebase branches, Marriott Hotels, Odeon Cinemas, some Premier Inn Hotels, Waitrose and Tesco stores, Pizza Hut branches, Beefeater pubs, Moto and RoadChef motorway services and in some hospitals and the Manchester Primark.[8] Smaller sub-units are also set up in railway stations and airports throughout the UK. Many of Costa Coffee's branches located in airports, cinemas and hospitals are either individual or corporate franchises. Costa Coffee also has small outlets positioned on out-of-town business parks, often among other food retailers, and on site at various businesses.

Costa Coffee currently has branches in many countries.[9]

Costa Express[edit]

Following Whitbread's £59.5m acquisition of Coffee Nation, a chain of coffee machines, the machines were re-branded as Costa Express.[10] The company plans to expand to target hospitals, universities and transport interchanges.[11] These coffee bars will use the same coffee beans as used in Costa stores and will use fresh milk.[12]

Coffee production[edit]

Coffee served in a Massimo cup.

Costa Coffee has its own roastery. The blend served in retail stores is their own "Mocha Italia"; it contains a blend of arabica and robusta.[13]

Costa Coffee employs Gennaro Pelliccia as a coffee taster, who had his tongue insured for £10m with Lloyd's of London in 2009.[14][15]

Costa Book Awards[edit]

Main article: Costa Book Awards

Costa Coffee has been the sponsor of the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards) since 2006.

Zoning and opposition to franchise locations[edit]

In 2011, it was reported that two Costa Coffee outlets in Bristol had opened without correct planning permission. An investigation into whether a third Costa coffee shop in north Bristol opened without the correct planning permission was launched in January 2012.[16] The planning appeals against the refusal of planning permission and enforcement action were upheld by an independent government appointed Inspector on 14 August 2012, who also awarded full costs against Bristol City Council in relation to one of the stores. The decision received criticism from councillors across the political spectrum.[17]

In 2012, Costa faced opposition to its plans to open an outlet in Totnes, Devon. However, an open letter was issued by Costa in conjunction with local authorities to state that because of the unique nature of the town and local pressure it had decided to pull out.[18] Also in 2012, residents in Southwold tried to campaign against the opening of a Costa coffee shop in their town. Planners turned down the original planning application by Costa but it was awarded planning permission on appeal.[19] January 2014 saw another license application rejected, this time in Hinchley Wood, Surrey. The village had previously seen attempts by McDonalds to purchase property on the same street in 1999. However Whitbread Plc have appealed against this decision, with a decision to come in March 2014.[20]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]