Our friend, the coffee shop.

by Hazel Slow

Back in March, a daily part of life was a visit to the local coffee shop. We would sit and savour the smell of coffee, the sounds of laptops tapping and watching people go about their lives. A trip to the coffee shop would often be a moment’s peace before the daily grind of work, life and responsibility. A life that would be totally transformed by the end of the month. 

Pre- lockdown, independent coffee culture was part of our daily lives.  

80% of us visited coffee shops at least once a week and 16% of us were visiting every day*. New vibrant coffee shops opened every week, incorporating speciality coffee with great atmosphere and friendly service. These places were bustling, then suddenly the shutters were down, and the door signs were turned to closed.

When you buy a coffee, you are buying into the culture, experience and conversation. This isn’t something you can get as much from a coffee at home and a zoom chat. The coffee shop was more than just flat whites and vegan cakes. It was a place of community, for different generations to meet and converse. A place where you felt welcome.  A friend you could visit for that spare moment in your day or to feel less lonely. 

During lockdown, we reached out and reconnected with independent businesses. We talked to Gavin from Shipley Triangle about what inspired him to start his business ‘I wanted to set up a community focussed space in Shipley to celebrate creativity, bringing a love for music, art and drinks together’. Nino from Casa Espresso Coffee Roasters in Bradford talked about how they were ‘started by my father, as at the time there was a gap in the coffee industry’. Chris from Tambourine in Shipley talked about his passion for good coffee and how Tambourine ‘was a place people use to socialise and we recognised that losing this space was hard for some customers.’. 


Coffee shops are part of a wider, but still local, independent economy that support us, and in turn, we can support them. During lockdown the supermarkets ran out of essentials and independent businesses diversified. The Cap and Collar bar in Shipley started home deliveries and Giddy Arts in Saltaire delivered essentials to the local community. Joel from Giddy Arts created a pay it forward scheme for Abigail Housing he explained ‘As with any charity or food bank, getting supplies is critical, and even more so during these times – Any support is really appreciated’. Throughout lockdown £1,368 was raised to support homeless refugees and asylum seekers, suppling essentials including over 100 kg of lentils and rice. Through these conversations we learnt how much these businesses cared about the local community.

As lockdown relaxes, our coffee shops and independents need our support more than ever. We can start to talk again and engage at a social distance behind masks and perspex. Reconnecting safely in person with friends we have missed. Through the coffee shop we can bring the community back together and keep the community spirit going. As we are all adjusting to the new ‘normal’ it is important we continue to support independents to help each other through this.

*source: British Coffee Association

Hazel Slow
Co create

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