Have Hipsters killed the humble coffee shop?
It seems that these days you can’t walk down your local high street without seeing that yet another new coffee shop has sprung up. Indeed, Britain’s traditional high streets are changing forever, with once familiar names making way for a seemingly ever-increasing number of coffee shops, bookies and charity shops.
Not so long ago, it felt like we all knew where we stood when it came to coffee shops – you had your established chains like Starbucks and Costa, you had your local high street cafes and you those “in store” style coffee shops. Sure, we all moaned a little at how much a latte cost from time to time, and perhaps we occasionally looked bemused at the fact our small coffee was actually known as a “tall” coffee, but at the end of the day though, a coffee was still a coffee and the sun still came up each morning.
Fast forward to today, and it’s a whole new world out there – the Hipster Café appears to be the new norm. No longer content are we with our £1.29 McDonald’s coffee, we now demand that our wonderfully bearded Barristers serve us only the finest freshly ground coffee that has already been pre-digested by cat. All joking aside though (and that cat poop coffee does really exist by the way), no one can argue that we are far more spoilt for choice when it comes to our hot beverages than we were a few years ago.
When the first of these Hipster inspired coffee shops started appearing, I’d almost go as far as saying that they were refreshingly different with their artisan ways, but I think the real question here is – have they over done it?
The problem for this new breed of coffee shops now is that are just so many of them – all claiming to serve some of the finest coffee available. Artisan coffee shops used to have a quirky charm about them and I totally get the appeal, but unfortunately having that quirky charm – think reclaimed wooden tables and Edison bulbs hanging overhead - is no longer good enough to help them stand out from the crowd. This sort of “authentic” venue now seems to be the new norm, with not just coffee shops but also bars, restaurants, shared office spaces and fashion boutiques all jumping on the bandwagon.
In order to help their patrons gain the reassuring approval of their culturally savvy Instagram friends, hipster coffee shops are having to become more and more inventive with their offerings. The current trend for deconstructed food and drink seems fairly popular for example, with customers paying more than average for a fairly small amount of food and/or drink that hasn’t quite been assembled fully – effectively meaning that you need to finish making it yourself. I don’t know about you, but when I go out for something to eat or drink, I’d rather my purchase was fully prepared and ready to eat or drink. If I had to assemble my own breakfast for example, then personally it’d be easier - and not to mention significantly cheaper - to stay at home for a bowl of Coco Pops and some toast.
I feel like McDonald’s hit the nail on the hit with their recent TV ad – depicting various people attempting to buy coffee at a selection of artisan or hipster style coffee shops, only to be faced with high prices, bewildering choices and bizarre presentation. The ad aims to remind us that if we want to keep things simple, we can still pop down to our local McDonald’s for a simple yet reasonably decent cup of coffee at a sensible price – no fuss.
While McDonald’s may not be your – excuse the pun – cup of tea when it comes to hot drinks, I don’t think that’s even the point. The point is that we need to remind ourselves that traditional coffee shops still have a place in our society, and sometimes you just want “normal”. For me, while I can appreciate the appeal of visiting somewhere new and (maybe) different, I really hope that this current trend for all things hipster doesn’t kill off the humble coffee shop – that would be real shame.
What do you think? Are hipster coffee shops killing off traditional coffee shops? Let us know your thoughts in the comments – we look forward to reading them!