We take a special interest in coffee because the cover design of the book depicts the coffee supply chain. Hence this story of residents in Totness protesting against the opening of a Costa coffee store in their town caught our eye. Costa is by far the largest UK coffee chain, with 1390 outlets. So it is not surprising that it is now opening outlets in secondary markets and small towns such as Totnes. But the townspeople are resisting the ingress of major brands – out of 8,000 residents, 5749 people signed a petition against granting planning permission. They argue that the town already has 41 independent outlets that sell fresh coffee, and they do not need another outlet. But more importantly they are opposed to a branded chain having a presence on their high street. They believe that it will spoil the special and distinctive nature of their town centre, which is full of independently owned and operated boutique outlets of all kinds.
Costa are between a rock and a hard place. In some respects it makes no sense to open an outlet in a market that looks like it will actively boycott, and even protest against, the store. The protest may also mean that Costa find it difficult to recruit staff for the new store. On the other hand, if Costa give way to the residents of Totnes, it may give ideas to the residents of other towns to try and prevent the chain from opening outlets in their towns too. It looks like the company is in a no win situation. We will follow this story with some interest.