Will smaller cafes and coffee bars see off Starbuckisation?

We've been charting rock-bottom cafe prices and the recent rise in coffee bars for sale with interest here at Bizsale, and now we hear the sun could be setting on the "Starbuckisation" of London.

Various reasons are being singled out for the £47 million lost by the chain's UK cafes during the downturn, from soaring milk prices to sterling's collapse pushing up the cost of imported coffee.

There's also the small issue of the coffee chain "muscling in on top locations with sky-high rents" for its cafes, as the capital's Evening Standard puts it.

"Dozens of less successful branches are being shut or sold, with more closures to come next year - an extraordinary turnaround from the 50 or more openings a year during the boom," the paper notes.

Some of the "underperforming" sites shutting down include two outlets in the City and one in Fitzrovia, near the West End.

The coffee chain's people have admitted that such closures will keep happening throughout 2010 as part of "cost-saving initiatives" and their aim to create "a healthier store portfolio".

We'll leave the last word - for now - to Britain's official best barista, Gwilym Davies (he was crowned in March):

Starbucks has done "a fantastic job" for smaller cafes and coffee bars, he reckons, because the corporation has created a lot of coffee customers … but its prices simply do not tally with its products.