Consumers in Europe warming up to take-out coffee

Consumers in Europe warming up to take-out coffee

As recently as 10 years ago, the notion of drinking coffee to go in a paper cup was deemed tantamount to café heresy in several European locations.

But according to statistics culled by market research group NPD and posted recently, take-away coffee is becoming increasingly trendy in Europe, particularly in countries like Italy and France where coffee is considered a social lubricant, meant to be consumed standing at the counter with fellow patrons or with friends at a local café.

Where this trend is most stark is France. In 2000, just one percent of coffee purchases were for take-out. Ten years later, that statistic had spiked to 27 percent.

The driving factor? The arrival nearly a decade ago of ubiquitous American coffee giant Starbucks, which hatched an ambitious plan to take on some of the world’s most fervent café goers. Today, the coffee chain has about 65 outlets in the country and has launched aggressive plans to open 15 outlets in train stations and airports across France.

Over in Germany, 4 percent of consumers drank take-out coffee in 2000. A decade later, that statistic had also shot up to 27 percent.

The take-out coffee market is particularly strong in Great Britain, where coffee-to-go has grown to 35 percent in 2010, compared to 5 percent in 2000.

But where the notion of carrying coffee has yet to make inroads are countries like Italy and Spain which experienced little growth over the last decade.

In Italy, 12 percent of consumers drank coffee on the go in 2010 -- a country described as the final bastion for Starbucks where locals are largely unfamiliar with the brand, and which is described as the “gold standard” when it comes to coffee, according to Businessweek.

Carry-out coffee is even less popular in Spain at 8 percent.

Starbucks is the leading take-away coffee shop brand in the world with 17,650 outlets in 55 countries around the world, while rival Dunkin' Donuts has 2,600 locations in 30 countries outside the US.