The north London idiot coffee wars (1st world problems in Harris + Hoole’s)
“I thought: ‘That’s very brave, opening up next to Starbucks,’” Bridget Chappell, a full-time mum, said of Harris + Hoole, a new coffee shop in north London next door to a branch of the US behemoth and four doors down from a Costa Coffee.
“I like to try independent shops, and it was really very nice with great coffee,” she said. “But when I got home, I looked it up and discovered it was a chain.”
Chappell is one of a growing number of Harris + Hoole’s customers discovering that the new, independent-looking, stripped-back coffee shops popping up on high streets across London and the south-east are part of a chain that is up to 49% owned by Tesco.
“I avoid Starbucks because it’s a big chain and it avoids tax,” said Carol Levine, 50, a Crouch End physiotherapist enjoying her lunch break in Harris + Hoole. “Now I find this is Tesco … It looks like a small indie. It is disingenuous. It makes me upset. I feel duped. I don’t go in there [Tesco]. It is taking over the world. If it [Harris + Hoole] had been called Tesco Coffee, I wouldn’t have come in.”
Katy Smith, another Harris + Hoole customer, said: “I don’t really like Tesco. I don’t shop in Tesco. Now I’m in one of them. They’ll probably be on every high street soon. I would avoid it, like I avoid Starbucks and Costa, which I thought I was doing today – putting money back in the community.