The new coffee capital

Milan is often touted as Europe’s coffee capital. However, a recent study from self-service retailer Selecta suggests Edinburgh in Scotland deserves the title.

Selecta analysed several data points including the price of coffee, quality and number of coffee shops, how many offered free Wi-Fi, Google search interest in “coffee”, and coffee imports in proportion to gross domestic product and population, and compiled this information in a European Coffee Index.

“Coffee is a big part of European culture. The European Coffee Index was designed to allow us to find out which place, that we operate in, was the most obsessed with coffee, giving us a different perspective on where to target for potential new coffee products,” says Emily Stoten, Marketing Director for Selecta UK.

“Edinburgh stood out from the other cities as it had by far the most amount of coffee shops, with and without Wi-Fi, per capita. In comparison to some of the other cities on the list, Edinburgh is relatively small in terms of population, so to have as many shops regardless is a key indicator as to why it topped the overall rankings.”

Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Florence in Italy, Dublin in Ireland, Antwerp in Belgium, Sarajevo in Bosnia, Bratislavia in Slovakia, Bologna in Italy, Prague in the Czech Republic, and Lisbon in Portugal ranked second to 10th respectively.

Most of the cities to reach the top 10 are the capitals of their countries. These cities all performed well – apart from Sarajevo – for the average price of coffee versus the daily wage. Milan’s relatively low placement of 17th was mainly due to having the worst average Google review ratings for its coffee shops.

“In the index, we found a lot of Italian cities in the bottom positions for average Google reviews,” Stoten says.

“The daily price of a coffee versus daily wage was also surprising with Zurich, Switzerland coming top. As Switzerland is usually an expensive place to live, we would’ve thought this would rank much lower.”

The least affordable location was Thessaloniki in Greece, where a single coffee made up 15 per cent of the daily average wage.

According to Google search volumes for “coffee” in English and the country’s native language, the people of Amsterdam were most interested in coffee, whereas those in Minsk, Belarus were least enthused.

Most of eastern Europe was ranked low on the list of number of coffee shops per capita, with Ukraine and Russia not having many coffee shops compared to other nations. Italy, meanwhile, had four cities feature in the top 10.

“Having lots of coffee shops per capita is a good indication that a city likes coffee as it is readily available,” Stoten says. “Moreover, a country which is importing a lot of coffee per capita indicates a high demand.”

Belgium imported the most coffee per person, whereas Bosnia spent the most on coffee importation compared to growth domestic product.

While Edinburgh topped the list overall, Cluj-Napoca in Romania had the highest quality coffee shops, according to Google reviews.

“This could highlight how new cities are emerging that have an underlying coffee culture as opposed to the more well-known cities,” Stoten says.

“The result of the index could give the coffee industry some interesting knowledge as to where it might be good to go for coffee outside of the traditional cities you might automatically think of.”

To view the index, visit

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