Behind the Beans

Battle of the brands

By Emily Braybrooke

I have always been a lover of independent coffee shops.

While I would rather enjoy the surroundings of a small, independent café, where everything from my flat white and carrot cake to the service feels more personal, I can’t deny that sometimes I will nip in to one of the high street stores.

Although I would call myself an advocate for independents, I thought it would be interesting to pin the three main chain stores against each other.

Introducing: Battle of the brands.


This name is known pretty much everywhere.
Simply type #coffee into your Instagram search bar and you won’t be scrolling for long before you come across the image of a Starbucks cup.

Some people love Starbucks, while others loathe it, but I stand somewhere in between.

The customer service is never anything of note although in such a busy store that is to be expected.

Something that drags Starbucks down in my estimations is the lack of personality.
When I order my favourite drink, the flat white, in an independent café usually I will receive a beverage that is beautifully decorated with some form of coffee art. In Starbucks this is not the case.

What stands out for me is the vast array of drinks on offer. I’m certain anyone could walk into a Starbucks and find a drink suitable for their tastes.



Costa proudly holds the title of the UK’s favourite coffee shop thanks to the most recent Allegra Strategies survey. This is Costa’s third year at the top of this survey so they are obviously doing something right.

Something that always strikes me about Costa is that it is everywhere. From petrol stations providing the express machines, to every street in your town centre, Costa seems to be forever expanding.

Similarly to Starbucks, Costa has a large selection of drinks on offer that change with the seasons. Last years salted caramel cappuccino was a winner for me at Christmas and I am excited to try their honeycomb latte this time around.


Caffé Neronero

When it comes to the big brands, I think Nero often gets forgotten.
I never thought to go in until the store in Nottingham, where I’m from, was redecorated.
To me, Nero appears to have taken inspiration from the independent stores in terms of their design. Their décor is cosier and less clinical than that of Starbucks and Costa.
Although the menu may not be as vast as the others, I personally prefer the coffee in Nero and the baristas always create attractive coffee art.
My favourite thing about Nero though is the service.
From my experience in several of their stores, the staff are always welcoming and chatty, much like you would expect from an independent café.

For me, Nero wins the race hands down. They seem to understand and respect independent coffee shops and have succeeded in intertwining this with their brand. Oh, and their carrot cake is the bomb.

Are you a fan of the chains? Which one is your favourite?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s