The boutiques and restaurants lining Monmouth Street in central London’s Covent Garden neighborhood stand empty on a recent Wednesday morning, except for the 11-person line that stretches out of the Monmouth Coffee Company cafe.
“In the last few years, I’ve replaced bad coffee with good coffee,” said Holly Woodford, a 35-year-old sports consultant, as she sipped a 2.60 pound ($4) cappuccino at one of the restaurant’s farmhouse-style tables.
At her home in Ideford, 2 1/2 hours southwest of the city, Woodford said she brews her own gourmet cappuccinos, using $14 bags of Monmouth’s single-origin coffee beans and a $400 De’Longhi bar-pump espresso maker.
Such enthusiasm has helped make Giuseppe De’Longhi, founder and chairman of De’Longhi SpA, a billionaire. Shares in the Treviso, Italy-based company, Europe’s third-largest coffee- machine manufacturer by retail volume, have risen more than 250 percent since the end of 2007, pushing De’Longhi’s net worth to at least $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He owns 67 percent of the company, and has never appeared on an international wealth ranking.
Company shares declined 1.6 percent to 11.51 euros in trading at 12:30 p.m. in Milan.
Growing global demand for high-end caffeine products has created a decade-long bull market for coffee companies, and boosted sales of home machines to $6.7 billion in 2012, a 47 percent increase from 2007, according to London-based researcher Euromonitor International.
“Drinking good coffee has become a lifestyle choice,” said David Veal, executive director of Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, an Essex, England-based trade association. “People who enjoy a good cup of coffee want to take that experience into the home, and that’s where companies like De’Longhi come in.”
The company began selling coffee makers in 1990. It now offers more than 150 models, with prices ranging from below $200 to more than $3,000. The Primadonna Exclusive model, which sells for $3,240 on De’Longhi’s website, includes two cup warmers and a color touch-screen.
Such higher-priced models, along with the Nespresso-branded pod capsule devices, have helped boost De’Longhi’s coffee- machine business to 597 million euros ($767 million), 39 percent of total revenue in 2012, up from 10 percent in 2002.