BRIGHTON'S exploding coffee culture is at a turning point and looks likely to split into two tiers, an expert has predicted.

Ben Szobody said it is likely the city will end up split into two factions: one of specialist coffee shops and one of less sophisticated cafes.

Speaking at the start of UK Coffee Week yesterday Mr Szobody, who has set up the UK's first apprentice scheme for coffee baristas in Brighton, said: "I think what we are seeing is a great winnowing.

"People are tuning into the difference between specialist coffee and 'bang it out' coffee, and at the moment there are a huge number of cafes on the spectrum in between.

"And as people become more discerning, it will go one way or the other.

"Some people will go, 'it's just a bit of nonsense and I just want my drugs,' whereas the specialist scene will get more discerning."

In 2014 Brighton and Hove residents were named as the biggest spenders on coffee in the UK, spending £177 per year each on average, or £25 more than Londoners, with the city's streets chock full of cafes.

Small Batch is the city's most popular independent coffee group and was recently bought by a group owned by new Palace Pier owner Luke Johnson.

But former journalist and barista Mr Szobody said life was not easy for small-scale coffee-sellers, who cannot make the same economies of scale as their larger counterparts.

He said: "If you walk up Trafalgar Street I think there are 20 cafes so it is a bit mad.

"I think particularly in the North Laine, a lot of people have a fantasy of owning a little coffee shop, then they run into the economics of it.

"While there is an explosion, the economics of it can be quite grim.

"People think you are probably making lots of money if you are selling £2 lattes but the truth is making money on coffee is very difficult."

Dan Brown, a manager at Marwood Coffee Shop, in Ship Street, Brighton, credited Brighton's growing coffee culture to its high numbers of international visitors, who have imported the European culture.

He added: "I just love making coffee as best as I can for people."

U.K Coffee Week sees cafes around the country raising money to provide clean water to coffee-growing communities around the country.


Reporter Madeleine Harper took to the streets of Brighton to find out.

Amy Purton, 28, from Hove, an auxiliary nurse at the Royal Sussex County Hospital who was drinking coffee at Starbucks, said: “I can’t believe the average is £177 – we must be getting robbed. 

“I would say people spend up to £300 a year on coffee. 

“We need it to get through our night and day shifts. The most I’d spend is £5.”

Her colleague Dani Stevens, 27, from Kemp Town, said: “I’d spend a fiver on coffee. Mine’s more expensive because I have it large, with two extra shots and sometimes sugar-free syrup as well.”

Carol Emslie, 58, of Saltdean, said: “I live on coffee, I drink it all day. I’d say the average people spend was £50 a year. I wouldn’t pay more than £2.50 though.”

Jill Clark, 58, of Saltdean, said: “When we’re out shopping, we always go for a cappuccino or a latte. It’s something to look forward to at the end of our shopping – or in the middle if we’re getting a bit stressed. I’d say the average was £75 a year and £2.50 is the most I’d spend on a cup.”

Louisa Rudland, 36, of Sompting, said: “I would say people spend about £4,000 a year on coffee. I wouldn’t pay more than £4.50 though. I drink coffee every day but I’m pregnant so it’s decaf at the moment. I like my vanilla latte so I have to pay a bit extra.”

Costa Sokratous, 25, who has lived in Brighton for five years, said: “I drink coffee all the time - four to five times a day but it’s expensive here. I’m from Greece and it’s only two euros there but I’d pay up to £3.50 here.”

Naved Hussein, 30, visiting friends in Brighton but lives in London and works in McDonalds, said: “It’s cheaper in Brighton than London. This coffee was £2.75 and I would never spend more than £5. I’m guessing people spend around £300 a year on coffee.”