The European coffee market has declined by nearly €2 billion ($2.4bn; £1.3bn) in the last five years, according to a Mintel report.

Sales dropped from €8.5bn in 1998 to €6.8 bn in 2003.

One of the main reasons appears to be that the Germans are cutting back on their caffeine intake for health reasons.

Although Germany accounts for nearly two fifths of European spend on coffee, consumption has declined by 39% in the last five years.

"Coffee is in fact Germany's number one favourite drink, even beating beer", says Michelle Strutton, senior consumer analyst at Mintel.

However the beverage is under increasing pressure from soft drinks, especially juice spritzers, as the Germans seek healthier options.

In 1998 Germany spent €4.2 billion on coffee. Five years later the figure had fallen to €2.6 bn.

Despite the downturn more than 80% of the population in Germany, France, Spain and the UK still drink coffee.

In 2003 each German spent an average €31.45 on coffee, while the Spanish spent least with €12.33. The European average was nearly €23.

In the past year, as marketers try to combat the trend, more than 240 coffee drinks have been introduced to the major European markets. Mintel questioned 35,000 people for the survey.

Data sourced from Mr Web; additional content by WARC staff