Archive for the ‘Coffee’ category

Coffee Shops: Renting a Refuge from London

October 12, 2007


I truly realised that I was a Londoner the other day, as I flicked idly through a copy of Time Out magazine.  In ‘The Big Smoke’ section at the front of the magazine they always have a photo of some aspect of London life sent in by a member of the public, and in issue No.1930 this was of a homeless man sitting outside a Starbucks.  The photo is entitled ‘Inside and Outside’ and effectively uses the glass shop-front to illustrate the divide between the smartly suited man inside enjoying an over-priced extra-tall latté, and the ragged man outside falling asleep over an empty paper cup.  It occurred to me as I looked at it  that I knew exactly which Starbucks it was, and also exactly which homeless man (granted, he’s got tattoos on his face so he is fairly recognisable, but still…).  This hit me with an odd sense of belonging here – after spending two and a half years feeling like a newbie, I ought to embrace my status as a Londoner, dammit. The other thing that occurred to me is how so much of the population of a modern city do rely on coffee shops to get them off the streets, into a quieter place where they can think, relax, meet friends, or get some work done.  Coffee shops in cities are so ubiquitous we now take having one on every corner totally for granted – we expect it.  I adore the treat of good cup of coffee, but I rarely go out simply to get one of those: I can certainly make a better cup at home for a fraction of the price, with coffee I know to be fair trade, etc.  What I go to a coffee shop for, personally, is the sensation of being part of the city life, yet released from the hectic streets and in a position to watch life in all forms as it passes, to be inspired by it – but not directly involved in it.  The price of my coffee is the price I pay for a little corner of London to contemplate in.