CX Focus: Top 5 UK Coffee Chains


“May your Monday be short and your coffee strong” is a quote we can all relate to. Few of us can deny having nipped into our favourite coffee store for a quick caffeine fix, so it’s not surprising that the amount of coffee consumed worldwide every day comes in at a staggering 2.25 billion cups. In the UK and US, drinking coffee has made a shift from casual coffee drinkers, to a rise in coffee “nerds”, with 59% of coffee consumed daily classified as “gourmet”; this is the first time in 67 years that over half of daily consumption coffee falls into this category. The rise in speciality coffee consumption is largely driven by millennials, who have demonstrated a willingness to pay premium costs for premium coffee.

With the growth of the coffee market set to continue, and a rise of independent coffee shops, competition for chain brands is increasingly fierce, and Customer Experience is becoming even more important for brands to both attract and retain customers.

We analysed over 17,000 online mentions from five of the most popular coffee chains in the UK. Adoreboard’s emotion analysis tool Emotics analyses online mentions to uncover the key themes driving emotional responses for customers. The analysis allows us to see what themes improve or detract from customer experience.

Which of your Favourite Coffee Chains Comes Out on Top for Customer Experience?

The analysis provides insights into which chain store has the happiest customers, and themes which are driving positive and negative emotions towards the brand.

1. Caffè Nero

Caffè Nero topped our customer experience analysis with an Adorescore of 40, scoring highly in our joy and trust indexes. Admiration and ecstasy were driven by positive interactions with staff, as well as Caffè Nero winning the hearts of pet lovers, with all stores “dog friendly”. Customers also love the O2 priority offer, getting them a free coffee every Tuesday. Our analysis demonstrates how various offers help brands stand out from the rest and help drive customer satisfaction. So grab your pooch, download the O2 priority app and head on over to Caffè Nero!

2. Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee falls just short of first place, with an Adorescore of 38. Our emotional indexes showed high levels of trust for Costa Coffee, driven by positive interactions with staff members. A collaboration between the brand and Three allowed customers to get free drinks using the Wuntu app, with this also driving trust toward Costa.

3. Greggs

Greggs is up next with an Adorescore of 37, however joy and trust scores are driven by the UK’s obsession with a Greggs sausage rolls and steak bakes, more so than their customer experience. Greggs does wins the public’s affection through affordable prices though, with their coffee being almost half the price of some other chain brands.

4. Starbucks

The coffee giant Starbucks scores a surprisingly low 35 in our Emotics analysis. With their personalised approach (including the infamous writing-names-on-cups) and the abundance of offers available through Starbucks cards, it is hard to believe that one of the most iconic coffee shops falls short of excellent customer experience.  The sadness index demonstrates that customers are disappointed in the price of coffee, as well as the quantity of sugar contained in some beverages. Instead it seems that customer expectations have shifted, driven by a rise in speciality coffee knowledge, with some customers preferring local establishments for service, quality and value for money.

5. Pret A Manger

Falling behind the other chains, Pret A Manger has some way to go in terms of customer experience. Diving into our analysis, very few mentions of customer experience are noted. With neither positive or negative experiences being shared by Pret customers, it seems that customers are experiencing low activation emotions such as boredom towards the brand, with most mentions a result of news articles or location tags. This makes the customer less likely to act as advocates for the brand.

It seems that Caffè Nero is currently top for providing customer experience, appealing to customers through their great offers. Brand perception may play a deeper role in emotions experienced by customers. For iconic establishments such as Starbucks, customers are already expecting a high standard of customer service before they even enter the store. If they receive anything less than premium quality service, their expectations go unmet, which can be detrimental to their overall customer experience. On the other hand, smaller brands have fewer customer expectations, so customers can be pleasantly surprised and more likely to share their experiences and become brand advocates. Nevertheless, as competition rises, coffee chains will have to compete fiercely to provide excellent service and quality products.

If you would like to learn more about our analysis or Emotics contact us here.

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