Q&A: Does Coffee 1 Franchise in the UK?

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Since it was founded in 2001, Coffee 1 - or Coffee #1, as it’s also known - has grown into one of the UK’s most successful cafe brands. But are there any Coffee 1 franchise opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs?


Coffee 1 has its roots in Cardiff, but now there are almost 100 branches across Wales and England. In Bristol alone, customers in need of a caffeine fix have a choice of 11 different outlets across the city. Despite Caffè Nero purchasing a majority stake in Coffee 1 in early 2019, the brand relishes its reputation as a trendy alternative to the UK’s more established coffee chains. 

History of Coffee 1

Coffee 1 began as a passion project by two entrepreneurs, David Jones and Maryanne Tagney. Together, they established the coffee business on Wood Street, Cardiff and developed it into a brand spanning England and Wales. They decided to focus on the ‘M4 corridor’, an area surrounding one of the UK’s major motorways between London and South Wales. 

When Coffee 1 comprised 15 separate cafes in 2011, its managers sold it to Brains, which had identified an opportunity to diversify its business portfolio outside of the brewery industry. The parent company provided the capital Coffee 1 needed to take its business to the next level, and the chain was able to open new branches beyond Cardiff and Bristol.

Now the business has been bought out by Caffè Nero, it’s set to expand even further across the UK and increase its market share. Despite its growing size, Coffee 1’s local feel has led customers to associate it more with independent stores than ‘corporate’ chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee. 

Coffee 1 has made a number of partnerships with charities, including the suicide prevention organisation Samaritans. The business plans to continue raising funds for the good cause through ongoing fundraising events.

Sustainability is also important to the coffee shop chain. To help reduce its environmental impact, Coffee 1 has introduced takeaway ‘eco cups’, which are entirely biodegradable. They’re made with plant starch as opposed to plastic film to prevent the cup becoming soggy. 

Does Coffee 1 franchise?

Coffee 1 is not currently looking for any franchise partners, and all the business’s branches are directly owned by the company. However, there’s no reason for the brand not to adopt a franchising policy in the future. 

How to get involved with Coffee 1

Unfortunately, there are no Coffee 1 franchise opportunities at the moment, so the only way you can get involved with the brand is by becoming an employee. Visit Coffee 1’s careers site to see current vacancies near you. 

The coffee shop market in the UK

Brits may be known for their love of tea, but the UK is quickly becoming a nation of coffee drinkers too. In fact, 79 percent of consumers drink the steaming beverage every day. What’s more, 35.9 million of us visit coffee shops, and just under half (49.2 percent) of cafe visitors buy a cup of coffee every single day (Statista). 

Our increasing love of coffee is good news for coffee shops across the UK; today, the cafe sector is worth more than £10 billion. And while it’s been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, investing in a coffee shop franchise is a relatively low-risk way into the industry. 



Similar franchise opportunities

We have a selection of café franchises selling tea, coffee and sweet treats. Here are just a few of our high-potential business opportunities to help you take a cut of a booming market.

Esquires Coffee

This coffee shop franchise cares as much about the local community as its profit margins. In 2017, it was listed as the UK’s second most ethical coffee company and top coffee franchise by Elite Franchise. So far, it’s established over 50 coffee shops across the UK and Ireland.

  • Becoming an Esquires Coffee franchisee: Stores can be launched in the form of small kiosks or stands in busy commercial areas, or larger, two-storey cafes of up to 2,000 square feet. You must share the brand philosophy and be business-minded.

  • How much you need to invest: The investment fee needed to establish an Esquires Coffee store will depend upon the size of the outlet, but you should be prepared to pay around £225,000. This will go towards property agency fees, store design and fit-out, furniture and equipment. An additional payment of £19,500 will cover franchisee fees.

  • What you get for your investment: If you choose to franchise with this international coffee shop business, you will be guided through the process of opening your own store. You’ll get training and support in site selection, store design, lease negotiation and marketing. 

Dunkin’ Donuts

Specialising in coffee and doughnuts, this franchise serves over five million customers a day and sells over 30 cups of coffee per second.

The business was launched in 1950 by Bill Rosenburg, who opened his first shop in Massachusetts. Since then, Dunkin’ Donuts has established a network of more than 11,000 stores spread across 31 countries and racked up almost 70 years of industry experience and 120 years of combined franchising experience.

  • Becoming a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee: You’ll need to be prepared to open at least 20 restaurants over a certain time period and have previous experience in the food and beverage industry.

  • How much you need to invest: You’ll need around £1.2 million in liquid assets, as well as a net worth of £2.3 million.

  • What you get for your investment: Once you’re on board, the coffee shop franchise will provide you with the rights to use its internationally recognisable branding and world-class tools and resources. This means you’ll be able to attract customers to your business and offer them the same positive experience they would expect to find at any Dunkin’ Donuts outlet.

Find out more

To find your perfect investment opportunity, take a look at our catalogue of cafe, coffee shop and drinks van franchises. There are businesses for every budget, and you can sort the list by investment requirement if you need to. 

>> Read more articles on the Coffee, Cafe & Coffee Shop sector

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