Exploring Kuwait's melting pot of international coffee culture

With one of the most developed branded café markets in the Middle East, high consumer demand in Kuwait is creating opportunities for boutique brands to differentiate in an increasingly competitive marketplace

Pret currently operates approximately 630 stores, including 200 outlets in markets outside of the UK | Photo credit: One PM

Kuwait’s strong oil and financial sectors mean that expats comprise nearly 70% of the country’s 4.3 million inhabitants. This dynamic attracted international coffee chains from the late-1990s onwards, meaning Kuwait’s small branded café market is one of the Middle East’s most developed, growing 11.8% in the last 12 months to reach 655 outlets.

Starbucks made its debut in 1999 via licensee Alshaya Group and is now the market leader with 200 outlets and a 31% share of the total branded coffee shop market. The Seattle-based coffee chain continues to grow in Kuwait, opening a net 32 stores over the last 12 months.

Costa Coffee first entered Kuwait in 1998 and is the second largest chain by outlets at 100. Alghanim Industries acquired franchise rights to the brand in 2013. The third largest operator is Caribou Coffee which has 69 Kuwaiti stores in partnership with Al-Sayer Franchising Company.

In September 2022, Canada’s Tim Hortons opened its first five outlets in Kuwait, while UK-based Pret A Manger launched its first outlet in the country the following month.

High consumer demand is simultaneously creating opportunities for boutique brands to differentiate in an increasingly competitive market.

UK-based EL&N opened its second Kuwait store last year while Japanese boutique coffee group % Arabica opened three new outlets to reach 12 locations. Domestic group CAF Café was the only branded coffee shop chain, other than Starbucks, to achieve double-digit outlet growth last year, increasing its footprint by 13 to reach 26 stores.

Just five of the 32 branded coffee focused chains in the country are domestic brands, but all are specialty operators, highlighting the strong local demand for premium coffee experiences. Their presence is complemented by influential Kuwaiti independents such as Blank Sphere, Grind Coffee Co. and 50Degrees Espresso House.

World Coffee Portal forecasts the total Kuwaiti branded coffee shop market will exceed 800 outlets by 2027, representing store growth of 4%.

Project Café Middle East 2023 is World Coffee Portal’s deep-dive study into the 20 best performing branded coffee shop markets in the region.

The report features market sizing and growth forecast, Covid-19 impact analysis, industry insight and a consumer study of more than 2,000 coffee shop visitors across the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

To purchase the report or to make an enquiry, please contact: enquiries@worldcoffeeportal.com | +44(0)20 7691 8800

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