Where I grew up in the UK, there are quite a lot of Coffee Shops – the spread of Costa Coffees and Starbucks, plus the other smaller chains that are more established in the local area, as well as the smattering of smaller local Coffee Shops which are usually quite busy.
Where I currently live, there are a lot more independent Coffee Houses. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that it is mainly a seasonal town (coming alive from May to October, and very quiet for the rest of the year), or for another reason.
Either way, there’s a great deal of difference in the two options.
For example, where I live now (Cyprus) there’s a specialist type of coffee – Cyprus Coffee (strangely enough!), which is very thick – to the extent of being able to stand a teaspoon in it on its own and there’s also the Frappe. As with all liqueur Coffees, there’s also the local spirits to be included in these. Each Coffee House I’ve visited out here has been greatly different – one of my favourites is a very small building, with a large canopied area out front, art-work from the owners friends and families, and a range of newspapers and magazines. It also has two or three different televisions, a varied menu and a high speed wireless connection – great for what I want.
Although just five minutes drive away, there’s a Starbucks. Which, as Starbucks is, very clean, neat and tidy, with a wide range of drinks on offer, and a range of snacks on offer.
So why do I prefer the non-chain Coffee House? I think it’s the atmosphere inside. More relaxed, more focus on what I want as a customer. I often visited Starbucks in the UK when it was inside a book shop I bought a lot of magazines from (I’d spend five or six afternoons a month in there) as it was an easy place to concentrate and work. But the difference I’ve experienced has shown me that there’s more out there.
What do you prefer? If you’re a Chain fan, let us know why, and if you prefer to keep things local, what makes the difference for you?
Photo Courtesy of Emphasis Cafe