When walking the streets of London one thing has become apparent to me, how filled coffee shops/cafes are. “After more than a decade of rapid growth, the UK branded coffee shop market is defying all previous expectations as coffee wins the hearts and wallets of many British consumers. There appears to be no end to the trend to café culture which began more than a decade ago, with coffee achieving a current growth rate 7 to 8 times that of the British economy” (UK coffee: market grows and to grow strongly, 2013). Large named brands such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee are seeing continuous growth but also good artisan independent institutions are thriving in this café culture boom. Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, believes “coffee shops have now filled a hole in British society that would previously have been met by pubs” (Thomas, N, 2014). So why are people gravitating to this space?
Café’s and coffee shops are notoriously perceived as being social venues where people can gather with friends and family, or even integrate by chance with a stranger with a warm smile and chat for hours. They are also places where people can go to relax and work independently and for some people they provide a familiar habitat where they feel safe. The idea of familiarity is supported by De Certeau (Harvey, 1991, p. 214) that believed “symbolic orderings of space ad time give profounder continuity”. Furthermore, De Certeau (Harvey, 1991, p. 214) defined a basis for understanding the ferment of popular, localized street culture by saying that the “resurgence of “popular”” practices cannot be confined to the past but “exist at the heart of the contemporary economy”. He then continued to state that they “provide a framework for experience through which we learn who or what we are in society”. The video below is a short film made by Amar Patel that tells the story of one of London’s most cherished café’s called Pellicci, on Bethnal Green Rd. It’s a bustling banter-charged hub, an East End institution and, above all, a family affair.
As De Certeau believes and what the video shows is that certain social spaces that enable daily routines give people structure and provides people with experiences and interactions that shape us. In particular with the video, it is evident that Pellicci’s provides a space where varying cultures of the East London (In which we have discovered that there are many) can come together and form a multicultural community. A place where everyone is valued, everyone converses with each other and everyone feels safe.
UK coffee: market grows and to grow strongly (2013) Available at: http://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2013/01/uk-coffee-market-grows-and-to-grow-strongly/ (Accessed: 13 March 2015). Thomas, N. (2014).
Why coffee shops are replacing pubs in Britain. URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/leisure/11084328/Why-coffee-shops-are-replacing-pubs-in-Britain.html. Accessed: 13 March 2015.
Harvey, D. (1991) The Condition of Postmodernity. United States: Wiley – Blackwell.
Post by: Georgina Miles