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Black coffee taking on new, softer colours
( 2004-01-10 10:53) (Agencies)

Coffee shops in Europe are offering greater varieties, where the long tradition is the classical cup of strong black coffee.

There is a growing trend away from the classical strong black coffee to cappuccino and other varieties, according to Winfried Tigges, managing director of the German Coffee Association in Hamburg.

The Americans are the world's greatest coffee drinkers, followed by the Germans and the Scandinavians, as the drink goes hip with greater variety being offered in coffee shops.

Young people, especially are turning on to coffee. "Here there is a definite change,'' says Tigges pointing to the fact that 10 years ago the drink still had a pensioner image among young people.

Market researchers found that young people find the classical cup of coffee too bitter. The many new creations in coffee shops are therefore milder in taste, offering nut, rum and vanilla flavours.

Kirsten Windhorn, who runs the 26 Starbucks Coffee shops in Germany says traditionally the "variety has always been greater in the US,'' but the trend was now also coming to Europe, where in the past there was only the choice between a cup or a mug of classical black coffee.

"In American coffee shops you can order according to your personal taste,'' says Windhorn, "asking for a weaker or stronger cappuccino, perhaps with hazelnut syrup and cream.''

This variation is still new in Germany "with many customers still feeling their way through the wider choice,'' says Windhorn.

The greater choice comes mainly from Italy, where it is normal to have an espresso after a meal in a restaurant. Labels such as Segafredo and Lavazzo are now commonplace.

"Coffee drinks like cappuccino which can be made by adding hot water to the powder show double-digit growth figures,'' Tigges says. The "Family Cappuccino'' for instance only has a small percentage of coffee in it, but is also aimed at the teenager.

Volker Meyer-Luecke, a coffee specialist in Munich, says filter coffee is still dominant in Germany. Latte macchiato and cappuccino are mainly chosen by younger people, he says, who will at an older age turn back to normal coffee.

A wide range of so-called fringe market "One World'' shops in Germany also offer coffee produced by farmers in developing countries.

The price is not affected by the constantly changing world market coffee price. Claudia Brueck of TransFair in Cologne estimates that these shops offer 200 different coffee varieties.

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