Espresso House Coffee Shop

Sweden’s fastest-growing coffee shop chain

When Charles and Elizabet Asker opened their first coffee shop on Kyrkogatan in Lund, Sweden in 1996 they couldn’t have imagined how their venture would turn out. Their initial aim was to combine high-quality coffee with a pleasant, relaxing environment – a vision that Espresso House remains true to almost 20 years later.

During this time, Espresso House has become Sweden’s largest and fastest growing coffee shop chain, with more than 170 outlets in Sweden and a 40% market share. They also have 19 coffee shops in Norway, placing Espresso House just outside the top 10 largest branded coffee shop chains in Europe.

Espresso House has more than 170 outlets in Sweden and a further 19 in Norway, with plans for further growth in Finland and elsewhere.

Yet success is not just measured by the number of stores a branded chain has and Espresso House can boast more than 40,000 visitors and cups of coffee served every single day. Although their coffee bars may differ in size (their smallest outlet is just 10 m² while their largest is an impressive 387 m²), they never fail to offer their customers a comfortable and welcoming place in which to escape from daily life.

Jeffrey Young, CEO of Allegra, explains why he thinks that Espresso House has been so successful.

‘Espresso House is one of the most impressive branded coffee chains in the world. Their success as both a business and a brand really stems from a management team that is passionate about getting every detail right.

Right from the start, they realised that there was consumer demand for high-quality coffee, something that other coffee shops were slow to grasp. This understanding that coffee quality was essential led them to implement an artisan coffee programme with high-quality coffee sourced from speciality coffee roasters including Solberg & Hansen, as well as expensive and highly effective espresso machines from La Marzocco.

Espresso House is also aware of how important their staff are to their business and have invested in an excellent training programme to make sure that the business delivers and continues to deliver the level of quality that you would get in many independent artisan units around the world. What’s remarkable is that Espresso House is doing this across nearly 200 outlets.

The business is also well ahead when it comes to their food operations, having brought this in-house with the Espresso House Bakery to maintain quality and constantly innovate through product development and taste – something that is rare in chains of their scale.

Espresso House deliver the level of quality you would expect in an independent artisan store – yet they achieve this across almost 200 outlets.

Also key to their success is that they have created an extremely pleasant store environment. It’s almost theatrical in a sense, but people want to hang out and spend time there as it’s aspirational and also very female friendly. Their strong staff training programme also enhances this atmosphere as they consistently deliver very friendly Swedish style customer service.’

The Future of Espresso House

Espresso House clearly has a very talented, clever and obsessive business management team. They’ve managed to almost double the value of the business in three years and are set for further growth.

Their recent acquisition by JAB Holding Company has opened up even more doors for them as they are a German company with outlets around the world, including the US, Netherlands and now Scandinavia. It’ll be interesting to see what they do next.