Coffee corner of Fife: battle of the coffee shops


St Andrews is a haven for coffee lovers with a wide array of options for the thirsty consumer. In fact, the three main streets that run through the centre of the town are home to eleven of them. Everyone has their favourite one for certain types of coffee, company and time of day. From the more cosy and intimate cafés to the more recognisable high street chains, coffee shops are often associated with particular moods or circumstances. With so many around, who is going where and which coffee providers are winning in this rather in this rather competitive neighbourhood?

One of the consultancy teams at the Playfair Project has recently been collecting data about the consumers of coffee shops in St Andrews. Alongside typical price comparisons, the group counted and averaged footfall at different times of day for each establishment while also noting the age, gender and occupation of the guests. The figures collected provide insight into which coffee shops appealed to various demographics, and ultimately which coffee shops are receiving the highest levels of turnover in the town.

Locals and university professors comprise just over one third of the demand for coffee in St Andrews; yet, their presence is far from evenly spread across the town. It appears that the hustle and bustle of Market Street has encouraged them to look to quieter locations such as those at the extremities of South Street. Almost in the shadow of the stone arch at the West Port, Con Panna has the largest proportion of locals as guests at 80%. In need of some modernisation, it would not make the trendiest of student hangouts in any case. The only other coffee shop in St Andrews where the number of locals outweighs the number of university students is also on South Street, but at the opposite end.

Jannetta’s, operating from this location for over one hundred years, receives 57% of its business from locals. In addition to its relatively quiet setting, Jannetta’s also charges the highest average price for its coffee in St Andrews at over 25% more than the average market price for the town. Thus, the fact that is more appealing to locals and professors than students is hardly surprising.

With regards to university students, the most popular student oriented coffee shop is Taste. With 83% of its relatively large number of customers being students and the third cheapest coffee prices in town after North Point and Cottage Kitchen, Taste does very well considering it has the same dimensions as a shoebox. It seems to have managed to exploit the brisk trade that comes with being situated near the main library of the university to great effect. Taste stays open later than any- where else and benefits significantly from doing so. It is the only coffee shop in St Andrews where its footfall increases after dark. The fact that the shop appeals to the library crowd might also be the reason why it is the only coffee shop in town where just as many men walk through the door as women. While the average customer is twice as likely to be female than male elsewhere, there is a 51% chance that they are male at Taste.

In terms of turnover, it is inevitably the popular coffee chains that win out. Both placed on the busiest street in St Andrews, Costa and Starbucks have approximately double the number of customers each day as Bibi’s, their closest rival. They are also the place where students and locals seem to be most willing to accept each other’s company. Customers at Costa are 49% likely to be a university student and 51% likely to be a local or a professor. For the other coffee shops, the scale is often tilted heavily towards either demographic. Ultimately, the abundance of coffee shops in St Andrews means that there is a place for everyone. Most will remain loyal to their routine and it is doubtful that they will ever be deprived of choice in the coffee corner of Fife.


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