Monday, November 20, 2006
Why coffee houses matter- and why Starbucks sucks
Here's a terrific article in today's Guardian by Charlotte Ashby on the depressing prevalence of chain coffee stores in Britain. Standardised, bland and expensive, these chains are everything coffee houses shouldn't be. How it raises one spirits to leave Blighty and arrive in a city, like Paris, or Brussels, where individually owned establishments, each with their own distinctive character still predominate. As I've said before the biggest charge against modern monopoly, Anglo-Saxon capitalism is that it's BORING. Identik High Streets, Tescos on every out of town roundabout, Big M signs wherever you look. And the neo-liberal fanatics of the Adam Smith Insititute, The Centre for New Europe and other 'free-market' think tanks would like the rest of Europe to go that way too. High Street diversity, where the small shopkeeper and small coffee house/cafe owner has a chance to flourish, means restrictions on the operations of multinational chains. And that is the last thing these paid-up propagandists for monopoly capitalism really want.