Coffee is big business. Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world, meaning that there is a lot of money to be made to ensure we can all get our fix.
It may not surprise you that the ubiquitous Starbucks is the largest coffee company in the world, generating billions of dollars of revenue each year. But some of the other names on this list aren’t quite so obvious.
Keep reading to learn all about the 10 largest coffee companies in the world, and let us know at the end if you predicted them all!
As measured by revenue, Starbucks is the largest coffee company globally, and they pulled in a massive USD 26.5 billion in 2020.
Headquartered in Seattle, the brand is known for its chain of familiar coffee houses that span the globe. Just how many Starbucks are there worldwide? There are 32,000, and they’re located in 80 different countries. In the US alone, over 75 million people visit a Starbucks each month, where they enjoy customizable coffee drinks, pastries, and small meals. Starbucks sources coffee from the major growing regions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific.
A simple brewed coffee remains the most popular Starbucks order, but there is much more hype around their specialty drinks, especially seasonal favorites like the Pumpkin Spice Latte (1). Outside their cafes, you can find Starbucks roasted coffee beans, the popular VIA instant coffee, and bottled chilled coffee beverages in grocery stores.
While not quite at the Starbucks level, Dunkin’ is a coffee powerhouse, earning USD 1.37 billion in 2020. Formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, they changed the name in 2018 to emphasize a new focus on drinks – like coffee – according to CEO David Hoffmann (2).
For two years, we have been focused on evolving Dunkin’ into the premier, beverage-led, on-the-go-brand and have been implementing what we call our blueprint for growth.
But don’t worry, they still have all your favorite donuts too!
Based in Massachusetts, Dunkin’ has over 11,000 locations worldwide, in 36 different countries, serving about 3 million people a day. They source their coffee beans from Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, depending on the time of year. And while the menu is extensive, thanks to the expanding focus on drinks, the most popular order remains a simple iced coffee.
3. Tim Hortons
Founded in 1964 in Toronto, Canada, Tim Hortons is a Canadian coffee company and fast-food chain named for professional hockey player Miles “Tim” Horton. They serve 100% Arabica coffee and state that it is sourced from “small farmers” in places “like Colombia and Guatemala” but don’t specify the details.
In 2019, Tim Hortons generated over USD 3 billion in revenue, making them the largest Canadian quick-service restaurant chain. There are over 5000 Tim Hortons locations around the world, with the vast majority in Canada.
Tim Hortons is best known for the iconic Canadian order the “double-double,” a simple brewed coffee with two creams and two sugars. Along with coffee, Tim Hortons serves soups, sandwiches, and pastries – including the iconic small, round donuts called Timbits.
4. Dutch Bros. Coffee
US-based Dutch Bros. Coffee is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022. It might be less well known internationally than others on this list, but it is undergoing a rapid expansion in the western United States and seems poised for more growth. In 2020, they took in USD 567 million – not bad for a regional chain. Dutch Bros sells only Arabica coffee, sourced responsibly from Brazil, Columbia, and El Salvador farms.
Headquartered in Oregon, the brand has 421 locations, with more added regularly. While some offer seating, a whopping 97% of Dutch Bros. business comes from drive-thrus, which enabled their continued expansion even during the pandemic years of 2020-2021.
5. JDE Peet’s Coffee and Tea
Founded by Dutch immigrant Alfred Peet in 1966, the original goal of Peet’s Coffee was to introduce the dark roast espresso blends popular in Europe to the American palate. The gamble turned out to be a huge success! Over 50 years later, Peet’s now sells a huge selection of coffee – featuring all roast levels and blends and single origins from around the world – and tea.
Centered in Emeryville, California, JDE Peet’s is both a retailer and a chain of cafes. There are 240 Peet’s outlets, but the brand’s coffee beans are also sold in stores and online. In 2020, Peet’s Coffee was bought by Dutch company JDE, at which time Peet’s was valued at USD 17.3 billion!
If you’re interested in trying Peet’s coffee, check out our Peet’s Coffee subscription review.
McCafe is owned by McDonald’s – a company that needs no introduction – a chain of coffee houses serving both food and drinks, emphasizing espresso drinks and affordable prices. McDonald’s founded it in 1993 in Australia, but the partnership with McDonald’s led to rapid expansion. There are now over 15,000 outlets worldwide, and by 2003, just ten years after its inception, McCafe generated more revenue than its parent company!
Impressively, McCafe has made a solid commitment to sourcing quality coffees. They serve only 100% Arabica coffee from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms in South America, Central America, and Indonesia.
A Rainforest Alliance certification doesn’t specifically require Organic, Fairtrade, or Shade Grown standards. Instead, it is more of a holistic certification that looks at the sustainability of a coffee overall. This video has more detail:
7. Gloria Jeans Coffee
Founded in Illinois, USA, in 1979, Gloria Jeans Coffee is a coffeehouse chain based in Australia. They operate worldwide, with over 1000 shops in 39 countries, with the largest number in Australia. In 2020, they pulled in USD 540 million in revenue.
As with Starbucks, they source their coffee beans from the world’s three central growing regions: Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific. They source only 100% Arabica coffee, and all of it is roasted in-house in their roasting facility in Sydney, Australia.
Gloria Jeans serves a variety of coffee drinks, from basic to extravagant. One of the most popular options is the Espresso Chiller, which has many flavors. All start with espresso, milk, and ice, but each is given a unique set of toppings, like whipped cream, syrups, crumbled cookies, and brownie chunks, to create a drink that doubles as a dessert.
8. Costa Coffee
Costa Coffee is the only British company on this list. Headquartered in Dunstable, England, Costa Coffee began in 1971 as a simple enterprise owned by two brothers. In 2019, the owners sold it to the Coca-Cola Company for 3.9 billion Euros; in 2020, it brought in USD 1.54 billion. There are now 3000 Costa Coffee locations in 31 countries, and they’ve recently announced plans for a major expansion effort in China (3).
Costa Coffee has its roastery, where they roast 45,000 tons of coffee yearly. Like McCafe, all their coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified, making them one of the world’s major buyers of ethical coffee.
Though they offer brewed coffee, Costa Coffee uses a foundation of espresso to craft most of its popular drinks. They specialize in the classics – latte, cappuccino, Americano, flat white, espresso, and the cortado – but you’ll also find lavish creations like a Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frappe on the menu. Lately, they’ve also introduced a line of canned coffees sold in UK supermarkets.
Founded in Italy in 1895, Lavazza is one of the oldest coffee companies in the world. And despite the massive expansion in the last 100 years, it continues to be family-run.
Lavazza is best known for crafting classic dark roast Italian-style espresso blends, but they offer a huge range of products.
Lavazza sells instant coffee, coffee machines, and accessories along with coffee beans. Lavazza owns six manufacturing plants worldwide to facilitate their vast product line, which garnered USD 2.54 billion in revenue in 2020.
Lavazza sources their coffee from around the world: Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Uganda, and Mexico. Many of their coffees are blends of Arabica and Robusta beans. This is not an indication of lower quality but is in keeping with the Italian tradition of adding Robusta for its rich crema and earthy character.
At present, Lavazza is in the midst of a big push toward improving sustainability. They recently announced a budget of 50 million Euros to work toward the goal of carbon neutrality (4).
10. Caribou Coffee
Caribou Coffee was founded in Minnesota, USA, in 1992, and it is one of the fastest-growing coffee chains. In 2020, they earned USD 480 million. While they offer an extensive and complete product line-up, they are one of few significant coffee companies emphasizing the appeal of lighter roasts. This leads one to wonder if their current success is a result of the Third Wave coffee trend.
Like Starbucks, Caribou Coffee operates coffee shops and retails a line of coffee beans, coffee pods, and canned coffee. They have 468 locations, all of which are in the US, most of which are in their home state of Minnesota.
Caribou Coffee sources their green coffee beans worldwide but roasts them all in Minnesota in their facility. In 2012, they became the first major coffee company in the US to have 100% Rainforest Alliance-certified beans.
What do you think are the top ten coffee companies in the world today? Did any surprise you, either by their presence on the list or their omission? Have you bought coffee from any of these businesses or enjoyed a visit to one of their cafes? Let us know in the comments.
What are the most sustainable coffee companies?
The most sustainable coffee companies protect workers and the environment throughout the product chain.
Our top sustainable coffee brand this year is a coffee subscription called Driftaway Coffee, which has many impressive sustainability initiatives. World Finance Magazine recently awarded Nespresso, maker of Nespresso machines and Nespresso pods, the Most Sustainable Coffee Company. Because Nespresso is such a large business, it can make minor improvements that have a big impact.
What are the best coffees in the world?
The best coffees in the world are carefully picked and processed Arabica beans from the world’s top coffee-growing regions – for example, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, Tanzanian Peaberry, or the famous Hawaiian Kona beans. It is rare for the largest coffee companies to have the best coffee beans because the care and attention needed to grow specialty coffee isn’t easily scalable to a billion-dollar company.
What are the best coffee shops in the world?
The best coffee shops in the world combine high-quality coffee, excellent service, and a lovely atmosphere, but these three things can mean different things to different people. Our picks of some of the best coffee shops in the world include specialty cafes in the USA, Austria, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Large coffee companies that operate chains rarely run the best coffee shops because they focus on consistency between locations.
- Goldfine, J. (2020, September 14). A brief history of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte: How the cult favorite spawned memes and moral panic. Retrieved from https://www.businessofbusiness.com/articles/history-starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-memes-data/
- Flager, M. (2018, September 28). Dunkin’s CEO Explains The Two Big Reasons For The Name Change. Retrieved from https://www.delish.com/food-news/a23494352/dunkin-donuts-ceo-reasons-for-name-change/
- Staff Reporter, QSR Media, Asia. (2019). Costa Coffee’s new goal: 1,200 stores in China by 2022. Retrieved from https://qsrmedia.asia/franchising/in-focus/costa-coffees-new-goal-1200-stores-in-china-2022
- FNB News. (2021, April 6). Lavazza Group carbon neutral by 2030 with first milestone reached in the ‘Roadmap to Zero.’ Retrieved from http://www.fnbnews.com/Top-News/lavazza-group-carbon-neutral-by-2030-with-first-milestone-reached-in-the-roadmap-to-zero-62700