Tea vs. Coffee - Why the UK Now Favours Coffee


For centuries, tea has been deeply rooted in the UK's cultural identity. However, recent survey findings indicate a surprising shift, with coffee surpassing tea as the nation's favourite beverage. This blog post will delve into the reasons behind this change in preferences, exploring the factors contributing to coffee's growing popularity in the UK.

The Younger Generation's Impact on Coffee's Popularity

A significant factor contributing to coffee's rise in popularity is its strong appeal to the younger generation. Younger people appear to prefer coffee over tea these days.  This preference is likely attributed to the convenience and variety of coffee options available, such as lattes and cappuccinos, which are often seen as more exciting and trendy compared to traditional tea.

Moreover, social media has played a crucial role in promoting coffee culture among the younger generation. The visually appealing nature of specialty coffee beverages, combined with the prevalence of coffee shops as social hubs, has led to an increase in coffee-related posts on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. This exposure has driven growth of coffee's popularity, especially among tech-savvy young consumer. 

The Rise of Coffee Shops as Social Spaces

As mentioned in this ITV article, coffee shops and cafes have become increasingly popular social spaces in the UK. These establishments not only offer a wide variety of coffee drinks but also provide an cozy out of home atmosphere where people can spend time and socialize over a cup of coffee. The rise of coffee culture has turned these spaces into hubs for work, relaxation, and social interaction, attracting a range of individuals and lifestyles.

By contrast, tea consumption in the UK has traditionally taken place in more private settings, such as homes and offices, with a focus on every day routine and relaxation. While the ritual of afternoon tea does have a social component, it is often reserved for special occasions or small gatherings, limiting its appeal as a daily social activity. This difference in the social aspect of tea and coffee consumption may have contributed to the growing preference for coffee in the UK.

Single Origin and Artisan Coffee's Influence

The emergence of American coffee chains, such as Starbucks, has had a significant impact on the UK's coffee culture. These global brands have introduced new coffee beverages and popularized the cafe experience in the UK, contributing to the shift in preferences towards coffee. The success of these chains can be attributed not only to the variety of coffee options they offer but also to their strategic marketing efforts.

Additionally, the growing interest in single origin and artisan coffee has played a key role in shaping the UK's coffee culture. With a focus on quality, flavor, and transparency, these premium coffee options have gained popularity among consumers who appreciate the unique characteristics and stories behind each coffee bean. This trend has further fueled the nation's preference for coffee over tea, as the market responds to the increasing demand for specialty coffee experiences.

The Tea Experience in the UK Foodservice Industry

One factor contributing to the decreased popularity of tea in the UK is the issue of low-quality tea and a diminished tea experience in the foodservice industry. Many cafes and restaurants have not been able to provide a high-quality tea experience, often resorting to offering generic, mass-produced tea bags instead of premium loose-leaf teas. This lack of attention to tea quality and providence has led to a decline in consumer interest, particularly when compared to the diverse and specialty-focused world of coffee. Many passionate tea lovers simply stopped ordered tea when away from home to avoid the disappointment at a low grade tea experience.

However, single origin specialty tea companies like Tea Rebellion are working to improve the quality and experience of tea drinkers. By sourcing high-quality teas directly from smallholders and cooperatives who prioritize transparency, Tea Rebellion aims to elevate the tea experience for consumers and create a community of tea enthusiasts who appreciate the true-to-origin flavours and the stories behind each tea. We at Tea Rebellion hope that this will rekindle the UK's love for tea, elevate a tea lovers experience in foodservice and promote a fair and transparent tea trade.

Tea's Enduring Presence in British Culture

Despite the growing popularity of coffee, it is essential to acknowledge that tea remains deeply ingrained in British culture, as mentioned in the ITV article. Tea holds a special place in the UK's cultural identity, with customs like afternoon tea and the simple ritual of sharing a cup with friends and family. These traditions continue to be cherished by many of us across all generations.

The UK has a rich history and heritage of tea in the UK. We believe that what is needed is a break from the status quo and to redefine what quality and a true tea experience means. This means embracing loose leaf tea, an attention to quality and providence and creating a end to end tea experience for our tea loving customers in the away from home sector.


In summary, the UK's shift towards favouring coffee over tea can be attributed to several factors, including the younger generation's preferences, the rise of coffee shops as social spaces, and the influence of American coffee culture. In addition to these well acknowledged factors we also believe that the low quality of tea and the disappointing tea experience in foodservice has contributed to this shift. We encourage readers to explore the world of high-quality tea and support fair and transparent tea trade.  By joining the Tea Rebellion community, you can appreciate the true art of tea-making and consumption, while also helping to promote a sustainable and ethical tea industry.

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