Belfast Telegraph

Aroma of exotic bean so alluring for Ulster public

By John Mulgrew

When brothers Edmund and Ronan Byrne set up California Coffee back in 1999, there were just a handful of coffee shops in Belfast.

Fast forward to 2015 and there are now dozens of shops across Northern Ireland, with almost 60 from the three big chains alone.

It's an industry that grew by more than 10% nationwide in 2014, with more than 18,000 spots across the UK.

That figure is expected to soar further still to 27,000 by 2020.

It was the arrival of some of the big chains to Northern Ireland's high streets that bolstered the interest here.

Starbucks now operates 16 stores, while Costa has around 20.

But it's Caffe Nero which has witnessed the biggest increase in store numbers in the few years it's been based here.

It's already expanded exponentially in Northern Ireland, with the latest addition to its coffee clan set to open in Belfast's Royal Avenue, just metres away from several of its other stores.

It has 18 across Northern Ireland, with half of those based in Belfast. Across the UK as a whole, it's Costa Coffee which dominates the marketplace.

It boasts more than 1,800 outlets, according to the latest figures, followed by Starbucks on 824 and Caffe Nero on 590.

And there's growth right across the spectrum, from the big UK and global chains, to smaller independent chains and one-off shops.

In May, Northern Ireland coffee chain Ground Espresso Bars announced it was opening three new stores.

While specialist chains like Belfast's Established have also been meeting demands.

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