As the end of 2017 draws near I’ve been reflecting on how my work has developed over the year. As more regular readers of the blog may have noted, I was off on maternity leave until the summer, so in terms of research outputs this year, it’s been a little slower than if I had been at work all year. That said, I’ve covered lots of interesting topics here on the blog, and my research activities have continued to develop, with a new project emerging. This blog post is really a re-cap of issues covered on the blog, and significant events that have taken place this year for me in my coffee shop industry research journey.
In January I highlighted a set of teaching resources produced by Costa for Schools which may be useful for Key Stage 3 and GCSE Geography teachers for topics around coffee, transnational corporations and coffee shops, as well as broader concepts of space, interdependence, cultural, understanding and diversity. The end of the month saw a post around the decline of pubs and high transformations after the Local Data Company released data showing a decline in bars and pubs in UK town centres, alongside a 31% increase in coffee shops.
At the beginning of February I took a look at the coffee shop culture in Russia. While it is a country with a rich tea drinking culture, coffee consumption is growing, and consequently so are the number of coffee shops, with the market currently being dominated by domestic coffee house chains such as Shokolodnitsa and Coffee House. Then I moved on to discuss how some consider coffee shops to have become the new ‘local’ in the UK, after Allegra Strategies published its Project Café 2017 highlighting a number of trends for the UK market. Moving to a different area of the world, a blog post was produced on Cofix, the low cost coffee shop that has been growing in Israel.
February saw the emergence of a theme on this blog which recurs at a number of points in the year: coffee and the circular economy. In this post I began to explore some of the efforts of those in the coffee industry to engage in the circular economy, from programmes to use coffee grounds to grow mushrooms from GroCycle, to the production of energy from Bio-bean. Moving back to the UK context I then explored the growth of the coffee shop chain: Coffee #1 which owned by the brewer SA Brain has continued to expand further into the country since. Thinking more broadly about coffee related activities I then considered how the growing number of coffee festivals have become important events for stakeholders in the coffee shop industry, but how they have the potential to be important for the places they are located too, in terms of bring in tourists and visitors. Continuing with the issue of takeaway coffee cups which I started to write about last year, the ‘Calling for cups’ blog post highlights some developments in schemes that started to emerge in the UK.
McDonalds might not be the first company you think of when you think of coffee, but through its McCafe range the company has sought to expand their presence on the coffee landscape. They even released an advert which I discussed in ‘The McCafe view of specialty coffee’, which tries to have a bit of a go at the specialty coffee market, suggesting it is too complicated, expensive and bewildering for the general consumer. The coffee shop industry would not be what it is today without its baristas, and through my research I’ve been collecting data on working in the coffee shop industry (and its associated benefits and challenges). I wrote a blog post which highlights some top tips for getting ahead in the coffee shop industry for baristas.
In March I moved on to write about co-working and cafes based on a presentation I had prepared for a workshop on co-working dynamics in the city, exploring how some cafes facilitate or inhibit co-working practices. A few weeks later I transformed this presentation into a PowToon animation which can be viewed here.
Later in the month I explored the presence of Starbucks in Italy after an article from the BBC questioned how Starbucks could succeed in a country like this with a rich traditional coffee culture. Returning to the coffee cup issue I then highlighted how the Environmental Audit Committee had launched an inquiry into plastic waste focusing on plastic bottles and coffee cups. I submitted evidence to this inquiry (if you’re interested you can read my submission here). Due to the general election that was held in June this inquiry was closed, but a new one was opened in September and the results were due to be published at the end of December. Then I wrote a blog post to summarise some of the websites and blogs where I read about the coffee and shop industries, not an exhaustive list but includes places I frequently visit.
This was followed a couple of weeks later by a post about magazines I read to learn about coffee and coffee shops.
Moving to the other side of the world a post on ‘Coffee shop culture in Australia’ explored how the country developed its well-established coffee culture where the independent coffee shop dominates the landscape.
April saw the return of the London Coffee Festival, the largest coffee festival in the UK. In this blog post I explored the issue of sustainability both at the festival and the broader Square Mile Challenge for recycling coffee cups. After a few caffeine fuelled days at the Old Truman Brewery I decided to do a bit of analysis of how the festival was discussed on twitter, producing some visualisations using Netlytic.
April also saw the arrival of UK coffee week, a fundraising campaign that involves many coffee shops across the country to raise money for Project Waterfall. I discussed these topics briefly in this post. After realising that latte art has become a new entry in the Oxford English Dictionary I decided to explore the concept of latte art in a little more depth in ‘the language of coffee: latte art’.
Later this month I turned my attention to the activity of Starbucks, and its moves to open ‘reserve stores and roasteries’ in a number of cities, as well as a slightly different store format in Japan, ‘Neighbourhood and Coffee’. After highlighting where I read about coffee in books, websites and blogs, and magazines, the next blog post turned to highlight podcasts I listen to for learning about coffee from ‘The Coffee Podcast’ to ‘Orange Cactus Coffee’.
The end of April saw the launch of a research summary report for the project that the cafespaces blog was initially designed to support – Spaces of Community: Dynamics in the café industry. The project sought to explore the growth and development of the café industry in the UK, and examine the role of cafes in different urban spaces. While there are a number of other publications in the academic publishing machine, this summary provides a short and accessible version of some of the key research findings.
In May I wrote a series of blog posts about coffee and café culture in Portugal (which are now available both in English and Portuguese). The first explores general coffee and café culture in Portugal and how it is changing with the arrival of some international chains, and the emergence of a specialty coffee industry in the country. The second focuses more on specialty coffee in Portugal after I visited Luso Coffee Roasters and Mesa 325. The third returns to consider café culture in Portugal, highlighting some of the changes taking place.
May saw the closure of a pioneer of specialty coffee in Birmingham 6/8 Kafe on Temple Row, after the building it inhabited was to be transformed. In a short blog post I consider its closure and the link between urban development and coffee shops. Turning again to coffee culture in another area of the world ‘Growing coffee shop culture in Nigeria’ explores the expansion of the chain Café Neo and other coffee shops in Nigeria and beyond. Considering somewhere a little closer to home, the final post for May turned the spotlight to the city I work in, Coventry, highlighting how the city has a growing café culture.
In June I considered how cafes use social media. After obtaining a coffee of new book by 3FE founder Colin Harmon, ‘What I Know about running coffee shops’, I wrote a short review. Kickstarter is full of coffee related crowdfunding projects, one in particular that July brought to the fore was for HuskeeCup, a cup that was made using coffee husks, a great example of engaging in sustainable behaviour, as discussed in this blog post. As I was beginning my phased return to work I took part in the Coventry University 2017 conference with a presentation focusing on how to turn a research idea into research reality, as I’ve did with the ‘Spaces of Community’ cafe project. As the end of maternity leave drew near I took time in ‘The New Adventures of a Latte Parent’ to reflect on the role that cafes had played in this stage of my life, and how cafes as social spaces for many parents and carers are really important. I then moved on to consider the growing coffee culture and specialty coffee industry in the Middle East, focusing on the expansion of the chains such as Coffee Planet, as well as independent specialty coffee shops. I also received a surprise package in July, which turned out to be from Orange Cactus Coffee, a coffee roaster in the US, and included a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans, as I explored in this post. The final post for July examined a documentary produced by Romedia Studios ‘Coffees – Italians do it better?’ which provides an overview of contemporary Italian coffee culture, its history, trends and transformation.
In July I returned to the issue of working in cafes, considering the ‘coffice economy’ after I gave a presentation at the Coventry University Faculty of Business and Law Conference. Moving to the other side of the world again, I explored the activity of Starbucks in Japan after it opened an outlet in Kyoto which was inside a 100 year old Japanese townhouse, complete with tatami rooms and traditional decoration. July saw the first ever Birmingham Coffee Festival which I visited with the family. Held in the Custard Factory in the Digbeth area of the city, the festival brought together a range of coffee businesses from the Midlands and beyond, as I explored this blog post.
There was plenty of new coffee books appearing in 2017, and the next one I managed to work through was the Best of Jim Seven, reviewed in this blog post. In July I also took part in the Circular Economy Conference: Transitioning to Sustainability presenting some research around the coffee shop industry and the circular economy, as documented in this blog post.
For a number of reasons August and September were quiet months on the blog, but I did manage one book review of ‘Paris Coffee Revolution’ which explores the growth of the specialty coffee industry in the French capital.
October began with another book review, this time of New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History, an examination of how coffee is intertwined with the development of the city itself. After announcements from a number of companies about specialty coffee companies receiving investment from large international companies (such as Nestle buying a 68% stake in Blue Bottle Coffee in the US), I wrote a blog post to consider some of these consolidations and why they were taking place. After the BBC published an article on four solutions to the coffee cup problem (i.e. too many disposable cups), I wrote a short blog post to examine these and suggest that there are lots more solutions available. The final post for this month considered a piece on ITV news which highlighted how the national chain coffee shops in the UK continue to dominate the market, despite a growing presence of independents.
November was a quieter month on the blog, although I did publish a piece on the Conversation ‘Has Britain reached peak coffee shop?’ to explore the continued growth of the coffee shop industry in the UK, and current predictions for its future. This led to an invitation to take part in a panel on BBC Radio Scotland on the Kaye Adams Programme to talk about the growth of coffee shops, and if we’re close to saturation point. A blog post summarises these activities here.
In December I examined some of the data published as infographics by the SCA on specialty coffee consumption trends in the USA, and the size of the coffee market in Western Europe. There was also a post this month about a press release from Coventry University in November based on some of my work around consumers and reusable coffee cups.
With some more reading complete I wrote a blog post about ‘Everything but the coffee’ an examination of Starbucks and how it ingrained itself into the lives of the American population. After spending some time analysing data about global coffee production and consumption from the ICO I produced a few maps and charts to show global patterns and how some of these have been changing in recent years. After being asked a number of times about any ‘good coffee books’ that I’ve read this year I decided to put together a blog post detailing some of the books I’ve managed to read, many of which came out in 2017.
Towards the end of the month after the release of Allegra Strategy’s Project Café 2018 Europe, I considered some of the trends taking place in the European coffee shop market. And to end the year, a blog post introduced a new funded research project I will be undertaking around the coffee shop industry and the circular economy in the UK and Germany.
This ended up being a much longer post than I had expected. It’s been a really productive year in terms of posts on the blog and the development of my research more generally, even though I’ve technically not been at work for a substantial part of the year. The coffee and coffee shop industries are dynamic and ever changing, and there are such a wide range of issues that can be researched. This year I’ve submitted a series of papers around the role of cafes in different urban spaces, and the coffee shop industry and sustainability. Hopefully 2018 will see some of these become available as I embark on the new research project focusing on the circular economy, as well as all the other areas of the coffee industry that I’ve been collecting data on. Looking to the future, I’m sure 2018 will be eventful and interesting as ever.