Nearly a Third of Brits use Plant-Based Milk in their Coffee, New Research Finds

As this year marks Starbucks’ 50th anniversary, the coffee chain has had an undoubted influence on the global coffee scene.

With this in mind, we thought it would be appropriate to share this new data on Brits coffee habits from global market research house, Appinio who surveyed 1,000 Brits aged 16-64.

New research from global market research platform Appinio has found that Londoners spend on average £2 more on coffee shops than the rest of the UK per day. This follows reports that coffee prices in the UK could rise as bad weather in Brazil and Columbia hampens global supplies. 

In a nationally representative survey of 1,000 Brits on their attitudes and consumption of coffee at home and in coffee shops, it was found that the public on average drinks 2-3 cups of coffee per day. The research also found that while Brits don’t necessarily know what processing or roast level they prefer, over 4 in 5 just love drinking coffee.

Most popular coffees

Just 28% of Brits drink coffee black. Regular milk is the most popular addition to coffee (74%), followed by sugar (41%). For those that drink outside of the home at coffee shops, milk based drinks like Cappuccino and Flat White are the most commonly ordered, followed by filter and Americano. 

Interestingly, there are gender and generational splits between coffee drinkers. Espresso is much more popular among men (62% of men and 34% of women) and younger consumers (61% of 18 to 34 old years compared to 41% of 35 plus). Moreover, Frappuccino and Caramel Macchiato are among the most polarizing drinks – avoided by those who drink their coffee without sugar, and loved especially by under-35, who are much more keen to experiment with a variety of drinks.  

Plant-Based Milk

The research found that 3 in 10 Brits use plant-based milk in their coffee with Oat Milk and Almond Milk ranking as the most popular choices – closely followed by Soy Milk and Coconut Milk.

With alt-milk maker Oatly becoming increasingly popular in recent years, it would stand to reason that the brand would be the most used milk alternative in the UK. However, over half of Brits prefer Alpro to Oatly.

Coffee Shops

Over half of Brits drink coffee only at home or work, with the other half drinking it in high street coffee chains like Pret A Manger and Costa Coffee and independent cafes as well as their workplace and their house.

High street coffee chains are the most popular destination for coffee drinkers, with 36% of Brits always or often visiting them, compared to 24% of respondents that buy their coffee at independent coffee shops. 

The report also found that half of Londoners shop frequently at independent cafes, compared to 38% for the rest of the UK. 

Home Brewing

The research found that instant coffee is the most popular way of brewing at home, followed by coffee pods, capsules, and espresso machines. The French press still outranks Pour Overs, Aeropress and Moka pots.

When brewing at home, the majority of Brits purchase instant and ground coffee as part of their regular grocery shop with price ranking as the most influential factor (71%), followed by flavour notes (42%) and roast level (37%). A growing number of niche younger, urban consumers also regularly purchase freshly roasted beans from a specialty roaster.

Andrea Villani, Managing Director UK at Appinio said: “Specialty coffee has been a global trend for years, offering more refined drinking experiences to coffee lovers and filling Instagram feeds with content from coffee influencers.

“Ahead of the 10th London Coffee Festival, we were intrigued to understand how coffee drinking and preparation habits have evolved across the UK after a year of brewing from home. While I’m still in the minority of no-sugar, straight espresso drinkers, plant-based milks keep growing in popularity among younger consumers and we’re keen to monitor how these trends evolve over time”

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.