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Coffee – Britain’s New Favourite Hot Drink?

coffee vs tea showdown

Despite originating in China, Tea is a quintessentially British beverage. Whether you like it or not, we are famous the world over for sipping on this hot drink, come rain or shine. However, that could all be about to change.

a coffee cup and tea cup face off in a western style showdown to see who is best

New research has suggested that coffee has overtaken tea as the UK’s favourite brew. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, 63% of the British public drink coffee regularly, whereas only 59% drink tea. But why? Here are a few reasons why a country so intrinsically linked with tea may be turning its love towards coffee:

1. Coffee has actually been in the UK longer than tea!

It might surprise you to know that the first coffee house was established in Britain in 1652. But the first reference to tea was an advert in Mercurius Politicus, a London based newspaper, in 1658. This means people had been indulging in coffee, on a commercial basis, some 6 years before tea was being advertised to the British public. It was only through the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza that would increase teas popularity, as it was a favourite drink of the Portuguese princess.

Men in wigs talking over a cup of coffee in a coffee house, circa 1690-1700
Men in wigs enjoying a cup of coffee in a British coffee house. Circa 1690-1700

2. Coffee can be consumed in many ways.

From lattes to cappuccinos. Mochas to cold brews, there is something for everyone when it comes to coffee. Even those who don’t like the strong, bitter taste can find coffee enjoyable in a frappe form. That isn’t to say tea is versatile, with the ever popular Bubble Tea and Iced Tea Lattes proving there is more to tea than just drinking it with a bit of milk and sugar. But overwhelmingly it appears that coffee based drinks experience more experimentation. All you need to do is check any coffee hacks hashtag, to see what creations people are coming up with.

Lots of different types of coffee typed out in rows with the colour changing into a brown gradient from top to bottom

3. It may have a few more health benefits for you.

Coffee can help reduce risk of certain types of cancer and diabetes. It also contains between 1.1 and 1.8 grams of fibre per cup. Helping you reach the recommended daily 25g of fibre target. Coffee also contains 200 milligrams per 100 milliliters of Polyphenol, a compound that helps keep your gut microbiome happy. In a recent episode of the BBC podcast, Just One Thing, Dr Michael Mosley shared that "A recent university study showed drinking coffee stimulated brown fat and one of the main functions of brown fat is to generate body heat by burning calories." Tea also has some amazing health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and helping to lower stress levels. So it really does depend on what you prefer, or what time you're drinking it.

A coffee bean lifting weights in a gym.

4. A renaissance for Coffee culture

With the rise of sitcoms in the 1990s, coffee shops have experienced a resurgence in their popularity. TV shows like Friends showed characters spending large amounts of their time at their local coffee shops to discuss their everyday problems. In doing so, not only did it increase the popularity of coffee shops in the US but also in the UK. According to IBIS World there are roughly 7,736 coffee shops and cafe's open in the UK currently. Of course, you can still buy tea in these places. But more often than not you will find the selection of coffees far outweighs the selection of teas. The rise of social media has also helped further coffee’s popularity with the younger generations. You can find a wealth of tips and tricks for securing yourself secret menu items from your favourite coffee chain, to instructional videos on how to create latte art at home. This has helped people experiment more with the coffee they are drinking, and has allowed consumers to gain a better understanding for brewing their own cups at home.

So, what do you prefer? We did a short poll on our LinkedIn a few weeks ago, and it was overwhelmingly in favour of coffee. In our opinion, coffee wins this one. But that doesn’t mean tea is going anywhere, UKTIA says that around 100 million cups of tea are consumed in Britain every day. Whichever you choose, you can be sure to find something to suit your taste.

coffee cup has shot the tea cup and has one the western style shoot off

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