Since the early 1990s leading speciality coffee shop chains have provided a lucrative market for investment and during the early part of this decade, despite the worst recession occurring since the war, coffee shop chains managed to prosper and make substantial profits. However evidence does suggest that there are a number of challenges now facing the industry. This paper represents an initial investigation into how financially sensitive specialist coffee shop chains are in an economic downturn. In particular, the paper investigates the marketing strategies coffee shops should adopt for weathering difficult economic trading periods and considers how customer satisfaction can be sustained now and in the future. The central aims of the research were to: 1) identifies key variables which constitute customer satisfaction in a specialist coffee shop market context. For the purpose of this paper, specialist coffee shop chains are defined as those holding a higher percentage of the market share and located in prime locations on the UK high street which include Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Starbucks; 2) to establish survival strategies for coffee chains in a difficult and challenging economic environment.