Britain Is Facing a Barista Shortage

According to new findings from market research company Allegra Group, tens of thousands of extra staff will be needed over the next six years to keep up with our national flat white habit.
April 4, 2017, 12:53pm
Photo via Flickr user duncan c

In recent years, Brits seem to have shed the tea-drinking stereotype for a newfound obsession with flat whites and Instagrammable latte art. The UK is now coffee-obsessed—a nation hopped up on macchiatos, Americanos, and mochas.

We reported last year that our growing caffeine habit has seen coffee shops take the place of pubs in towns across the country. Now, findings from market research company Allegra Group suggest that, in addition to the 150,000 baristas currently pouring espressos and steaming milk, the UK will need a further 40,000 coffee shop workers to keep up with the growing demand for coffee.

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The research, which was released today to coincide with UK Coffee Week, predicts that by 2025, the number of coffee shops in Britain is on course to exceed 30,000—an increase of 7,155 stores from the number currently operating in the country. But according to Allegra's report, the coffee industry—currently worth £8.9 billion—could struggle to find enough baristas to man the espresso machines.

And Brexit is partly to blame.

Like many other sectors of the hospitality industry, including specialty delis and restaurants, coffee shops are finding it difficult to attract European staff, due to concerns over work permits as Britain leaves the EU.

In a press statement to MUNCHIES, Jeffrey Young, CEO of Allegra Group and founder of Coffee Week, said that one way to tackle this could be through training. He said: "The way to inspire a new generation of baristas is through teaching them about the job—being a barista requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, which can only be achieved through training."

He continued: "The way to fill the amount of jobs needed is simply by letting people know that a career as a barista is really fun and highly skilled, so definitely worth considering. The UK coffee industry is growing at an exceptionally impressive rate and it's important that this growth isn't stunted by a lack of workers."

It might also be worth telling any potential baristas that Brits will shell out more for an extra hot cappuccino if the guy or girl behind the bar is, ahem, extra hot.