Coffee Shop Activism


Bury Free Press, 17th January 2015

When you think of the British ‘cuppa’, you’re probably thinking of tea. But research shows that in recent years we’ve drifted from our staple hot drink, and instead are drinking a ‘latte’ more coffee. The UK is in the top ten of coffee consumers in the world, where each ofus use around two kilos every year. But what is it that makes coffee popular?

The idea of a coffee shop was originally brewed in 14th century Turkey, where the drink was used a social lubricant and the shops were centres of intellectual and artistic thought. The modern ‘coffee culture’ is largely a result of the expansion of that idea through global American companies, such as Starbucks. Coffee drinking is a part of lifestyles all around the world, but the concept extends far further than the drink.

What our coffee shops sell us is not just a caffeinated hot drink, but an experience. We ‘have coffee’ to meet with friends, work or enjoy relaxing in the centre of town. Coffee is a vehicle through which we socialise – like with alcohol, but during the day.

Yet as with the addition of big companies in most industries, coffee shops have become impersonal. Bury is home to some of the most original independent cafes, which are often crowded out by big-name bullies. The new ‘Paddy and Scott’s’ on Abbeygate Street is a superb example of an ethical, characterful alternative to the tax-dodging tyrants of the high street. With every cup we buy, we’re voting with our money, and we should do what we can to support small businesses. It’s that, or risk losing a part of the town which both residents and tourists enjoy.



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