We need to support our independent coffee shops, or lose them forever


By the time this column is printed, the doors to our wee coffee shop in Perth will be permanently closed.

Like a great many small independent businesses in the hospitality industry, we concluded it was just no longer viable to carry on.

Over the last few weeks I’ve read silently, with growing horror, article after article about small independent cafes and restaurants giving up their fight to stay in business. Fika in Dundee, Blasta in Stanley, Grand Italia and 269 Vegan in Perth, a heartbreaking list of broken dreams which continues to grow.

Hospitality is, literally, on its knees.

Almost two and a half years of lockdown closures, slow economic recovery, low city centre footfall, unavoidable VAT increases and now the cost of living crisis have borne down on this industry. It’s as if all our Januaries have come at once.

So what’s this got to do with coffee? This is still a coffee column, right?

Well, yes it is. Humour me while I get into the economics of your coffee and how it’s reaches your table.

Coffee roasting is, generally speaking, performed using gas apparatus to toast the beans. And we are all aware of the rising costs of wholesale gas.

The fantastic baristas who make your coffee? Well they all got a bit of a pay rise in April when the national living wage went up.

The standing charges and the electricity that powers the coffee machine? Well they have also increased.

The milk that makes up roughly half the drink? Well that’s endured several separate price rises since January this year. Not a single price increase. Several.  

Add to that, coffee is a bit of a treat. So it’s an easy win to save some pennies. And literally thousands of people are doing just that. On every high street. In every town.

So the small business that’s tweaking their prices by 5 or 10 pence per cup, here and there, really needs to do it or they simply won’t survive.

So please, if you can, support your local independent coffee shop. They put love, care and passion into every cup they make and every cup sold makes a genuine difference to them. Every single cup.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine on 13/087/2022 in The Courier and Press & Journal