An Introduction to ‘Cafe Spaces’

Welcome to the ‘CafeSpaces’ blog – a place where I’ll be discussing developments in a research project which explores the development of the café industry, and the role of cafés in different urban and environments and cultures.

Picolo coffee London

Piccolo in Free State Coffee in London

This project has been a long time in development as I have been observing changes in the presence, form and function of different cafés not only in the UK, but in different places across the globe. As an academic I’ve been fortunate to travel to many different places, and the nature of my work has meant I have often spent many hours sitting working in cafés while waiting for an event,  conference or for someone as part of my fieldwork. I began recording anecdotal evidence some years ago about ‘café experiences’ and observations, noticing that in different places, a variety of café cultures can be observed, and about how different cafés provided varied environments.

Espresso Sign Pike Place Market Seattle

Espresso Sign in Pike Place Market, Seattle

It was interesting then to see how different international chains sought to gain a presence in places that already had well established café cultures. For example, several years ago I was surprised to see a Costa Coffee branch inside a supermarket in Prague, and another in a downtown area of Porto more recently. But beyond the expansion of the famous international coffee chains like Costa Coffee and Starbucks, there are a plethora of different cafés to be found in most towns and cities, and what I’m interested in is the role they play in these different places. For example some cafés encourage community activity with reading groups, live music evenings, or operate on a different model by charging for the time you spend there rather than the goods you consume. In addition to a growing number of independent cafes , there has been a proliferation of various themed cafes which operate with a particular theme in mind, for example the Cereal Killer café which focuses on serving cereal, Lady Dinah’s Emporium, a place where cats roam in the café , or the Blitz, a 1940s themed tea room.  All of these café spaces are have an impact on the environment in which they are embedded, and I want to find more what these are and if, and how, they are changing.

These are just a few things I have observed, and considered, about the development of the café industry, and I will be using this blog to show how these issues, and many more, can be explored.

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