Costa Coffee

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Costa Coffee
Industry Hospitality
Founded 1971 (London)
Founder Bruno and Sergio Costa
Headquarters Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England
Number of locations
Increase 3,080+ (2015)
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.
£951.9 million (2014/15)[1]
Parent Whitbread PLC

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

Costa Coffee was founded in London in 1971 by the Costa family 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, including over 300 in China.[3]


Italian immigrant brothers Bruno and Sergio Costa founded a coffee roastery in Lambeth, London, in 1971, supplying local caterers. The family had moved to England in the 1960s.[4][5] Costa branched out to selling coffee in 1978, when its first store opened in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London.

In 1985, Sergio bought out Bruno's share of the company. Bruno went on to found a tableware company.[6] By 1995, the chain already had 41 stores in UK.[7] In 1995, the business was acquired by Whitbread, UK's largest hotel and coffee shop operator, 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.[8] By the end of 2013, the company had overtaken Starbucks in the UK, reaching a 54% market share.[9]



A Costa Coffee branch in Forster Square Retail Park, Bradford
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.[10]

As well as high street location, Costa Coffee outlets can be found in airports and within Waterstone's bookstores, WHSmith, Homebase branches, larger Next stores, Marriott Hotels, Odeon Cinemas, some Premier Inn Hotels, Waitrose, Debenhams and Tesco stores, Pizza Hut branches, Beefeater pubs, Moto and RoadChef motorway services and in some hospitals and the Manchester Primark.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] The company plans to expand to target hospitals, universities and transport interchanges.[14] These coffee bars will use the same coffee beans as used in Costa stores and will use fresh milk.[15]

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 (70%) and robusta (30%).[16]

Costa Coffee employs Gennaro Pelliccia as a coffee taster, who had his tongue insured for £10m with Lloyd's of London in 2009.[17][18]

Costa Coffee Club[edit]

Costa Coffee has its own loyalty scheme that is called the Costa Coffee Club. Using a Loyalty card or an app for Android phones or iPhones, members may gain points which allows them to get free coffee and other goods. Points are added whenever a purchase is made, and the card or app is presented and swiped or scanned.

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.[19] The planning appeals against the refusal of planning permission and enforcement action were upheld by an independent government appointed planning 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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22] 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 have appealed against this decision, with a decision to come in March 2014.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Costa Coffee founder: My hometown Purley has too many coffee shops". Croydon Advertiser. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Costa Experience - The Journey from Bean to Cup - Costa Coffee". Costa Coffee. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Adams, Guy (2 May 2013). "The man who founded Costa Coffee - then sold out for a fraction of its value now - insists he's not bitter. So... WHY does Mr Costa refuse to drink his own coffee?". Daily Mail. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Costa - Our History". Whitbread. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  8. ^ The Guardian 4 March 2010
  9. ^ "Allegra – coffee shop market grown by 6.4%". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Park View Shopping Centre - Costa Coffee
  12. ^ "Homepage". Costa Coffee. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Growing Business Success Stories - Costa Express: Scott Martin 10 June 2011
  14. ^ Guardian - Whitbread self serve coffee machines
  15. ^ Costa Express
  16. ^ Guy Adams (2 May 2013). "The man who founded Costa Coffee". 
  17. ^ Costa Coffee: The Perfect Cup
  18. ^ The Telegraph 9 March 2009
  19. ^ "Investigation into third Bristol Costa coffee shop". BBC News. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Bristol 247 News 15/08/2012 "Councillors’ anger at green light for Costa Coffee shops"
  21. ^ Guardian 15/08/2012 "Totnes: the town that declared war on global capitalism"
  22. ^ See
  23. ^

External links[edit]