Barista shortage fears as Brexit blamed for holding back recruitment

Britain is facing a shortage of baristas as the fast-growing coffee market outpaces the rate of new hires, research has suggested.

With the industry’s value rising 7.9% in the last year to hit £10.1 billion in the UK, another 6,517 coffee shops are predicted to open in the next four years, according to research by the London Coffee Festival and Allegra World Coffee Portal.

This means the nation will need an additional 40,000 coffee professionals by 2023, on top of the 160,000 baristas currently working in the UK.

But industry leaders have warned Brexit has made it more difficult to attract applicants from EU countries, while British workers have not yet made up for the shortfall.

In 2017, Pret a Manger HR boss Andrea Wareham said just one in 50 applicants for jobs at the chain are British.

According to the new research, half of all bosses in the coffee sector are worried about Brexit.

Jeffrey Young, chief executive and founder of Allegra Events – which runs the festival – said: “Brits are a nation full of coffee lovers so it’s fantastic to see the industry continue to grow at such an incredible rate, however, it’s alarming that the number of baristas joining the profession does not match this growth.

“Being a barista is a brilliant job, requiring a great deal of knowledge and skill.

“I firmly believe it should be as well admired as sommeliers at top restaurants.”

If enough new recruits can be found to match the growing industry, the UK will employ 10 times more baristas than it does barristers.

The research shows the UK’s coffee industry has accelerated in a trend that could prove a boon for beleaguered high streets.

Four coffee shops opened every day last year, up from three a day in 2017, with the total number of outlets set to exceed 32,000 nationwide by 2023.