Barista steaming milk on La Marzocco coffee machine

As the European Coffee Symposium travels to Milan to co-inside with the launch of The Milan Coffee Festival, we put a spotlight on the Italian coffee shop market.


  • With a strong heritage of traditional coffee drinking culture, Italian’s have long favoured the consumption of espresso from local independent coffee shops


  • Industry leaders have typically dismissed the influence of branded chains on consumer trends in Italy.  However, sector growth and the rise of specialty coffee is starting to alter perceptions


  •  The overall Italian branded market has increased by 40 outlets at a growth of 6.3% to reach 677 total stores


  •  Leading operator McCafé now operates 280 outlets, with 20 net new openings over the last 12 months


  •   La Bottega del Caffè has seen market share marginally reduced to 20% despite opening two further stores this year, reaching 135 in total


  • Caffe Vergnano 1882 has increased market share to 9%, becoming the third largest branded coffee chain in Italy with a retail footprint of 60 stores, the result of 14 net new openings over the last 12 months

Latte art

  •  The top three branded coffee chains command a combined market share of 73% with growth of 1% from 2016


    • Traditional Italian chains are struggling to compete as consumer preferences change.  Illy Caffe and Segafredo Zanetti Espresso have reduced their retail estate, while Lavazza Espression continues to trade from only one outlet


    •   International coffee chain Starbucks will finally enter the Italian market in 2018, with initial stores in Milan and Rome.  This is expected to be a catalyst for growth in the market as the traditional coffee shops give way to third-wave coffee culture


    • The average price of a medium latte and cappuccino increased in Italy in the last 12 months, driven by national chains rising prices. A medium cappuccino has increased by 2% to €1.48, while a medium latte macchiato now costs €1.63, a rise of 5%


    • With signs of economic recovery gathering pace, Italian industry leaders are increasingly positive about current trading conditions for coffee shops – 54% compared with 48% last year.  Italian GDP grew at 1.5%, still beneath the Eurozone average of 2.2%, but up from the 0.9% growth experienced in 2016


    • 48% of operators expect the trading environment for coffee shops to improve over the next 3-6 months, up from 35% this time last year.  There are no expectations conditions will deteriorate, down from 30% in 2016


    Barista pouring coffee

    •  Industry leaders are recognising the growing consumer trends for convenience, healthier eating and particularly the expectation of internet availability at coffee shops.  These are all hallmarks of branded coffee chain culture, which is being embraced by millennials and Generation Z


    • Coffee quality is considered by industry professionals to be the leading success factor for a coffee shop concept in Italy.  Other important factors include high-quality customer service and effective store management


    • A shortage of suitable staff and poor industry training levels are the key challenges facing coffee shop operators. There is a relative lack of knowledge about what constitutes quality, making it difficult to change traditional consumer behaviour


    • The Italian branded coffee shop market is forecast to grow at 6.3% compound annual growth over the next 5 years to exceed 800 outlets by 2022


    • Growth is primarily expected to be driven by specialty concepts at the continued expense of more traditional brands, with Starbucks imminent arrival invigorating the market and potentially encouraging other major international brands to follow


    Allegra Strategies, Project Café18 Europe — November 2017
    The European Coffee Symposium returns on 28-30 November and  is the leading event for senior executives from across the vibrant European coffee shop and food-to-go sector, offering key industry players a platform to gain the latest market insight, build new relationships and drive business performance. Click here to find out more and apply for a place.