Posted in Kafevend Blog

Costa coffee is the largest coffee shop chain in the UK today, with over a thousand stores in the country. It has several hundred more spread throughout other countries on the globe as well as several thousand vending facilities. All this has been achieved in a little over four decades, which is no small feat, considering the chain's humble origins.

In the 1960s, the Costa family from Parma in Italy emigrated to London. The coffee they found here wasn't much to their liking compared to that back in Italy however, and they all entered the coffee business again, which they had left behind in Parma. The parents opened Casa Mia, and then in 1971 the three brothers Sergio, Bruno and Giancarlo opened their own store together. Giancarlo made and sold Italian food from the store, whilst Sergio and Bruno started making Italian style coffee using the family's old roaster.

The coffee sales took off quickly, and in 1978 they opened the first Costa Coffee shop. Early franchisement was limited, with shops only being run by extended family members or people from the Italian community. In the 1980s, Sergio sold his stake in the company to his brother Bruno, who in turn sold the company to Whitbread in 1995. Whilst it has a way to go before it acquires the level of international stores Starbucks owns, the homegrown coffee company overtook Starbucks as the largest coffee brand in the UK in 2007.

Costa has become part of the growing movement in the UK and abroad to promote ethically sourced goods. As well as sourcing coffee from Rainforest Alliance certified farms, in 2006 they set up the Costa Foundation, a charity that raises money to improve the lives of coffee growing communities.

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