Ten years ago in London, Starbucks was a complete no-name. Today London has more Starbucks than Manhattan Island, according to an article in today’s Scotland on Sunday: Scotland on Sunday – Business – Waking up to smell the coffee. Not too shabby for a traditional tea town.

Point is that the rampant growth of the higher-end coffee market is a worldwide phenomenon. It has surprised many critics with expectations of a faddish burn-out after a few years. Yet five years after the market was supposedly saturated, the growth continues.

The article also touches on the business story behind one of the larger UK-based espresso café chains, Caffè Nero (mentioned here in a previous post). Caffè Nero CEO, Dr. Gerry Ford, is apparently excited about Nero’s prospects for international expansion — particularly in Europe, in countries such as Ireland, Holland, Spain and Sweden.

And while the company calls itself “The Italian Coffee Company” with roots clearly planted in the U.K., Ford even expects growth opportunities in established coffee consumer nations such as France, Italy and Belgium. His reasoning? There isn’t a proliferation of big coffee brands there. (However, something tells me the Home Depot/big box approach to coffee may not float too well with the locals.)

Like all good CEOs with delusions of grandeur, Ford even thinks they have the edge on Starbucks in penetrating these markets. But meanwhile, Starbucks isn’t exactly biding its time in “coffee wasteland” nations such as Taiwan.