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Consumers abandon chain coffee shops in protest at behaviour

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 05, 2013

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Independent coffee shop owners have been feeling the benefits of the adverse publicity generated by high street coffee chains.

Starbucks came under fire after it was revealed the company had failed to pay tax on its operations in the UK – it has now rectified the situation – and Costa Coffee fell foul of local opposition to large chains taking space in Totnes's high street. It subsequently withdrew its application.

William Folkes, sales manager with independent specialist coffee supplier Coffee West, said: "Consumers don't like these big companies taking advantage of their position with clever tax avoidance schemes or putting pressure on local planners.

"The way that they are showing their displeasure is by simply buying their coffee elsewhere."

Coffee West supplies coffee and equipment to cafes, hotels and restaurants across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, as well as offering barista training.

Kate Jamieson, manager of the award-winning Vault Bar in Penzance, believes customers are shunning the larger chains in favour of local businesses.

"People have always appreciated the service that we offer and the fact that their money stays in the local economy means a lot," she said.

Mark Lewis, who owns Picassos coffee house in Torquay, commented: "I always enjoy the reaction we have from the chain converts. They really appreciate the relationship they build with my staff and can see the skill that goes in to making our coffee and this fast becomes, 'just the way they like it'!"

Silvia Merton of the Roots Cafe in Taunton started working with Coffee West when she decided her business needed to step up its game in the face of competition from the chains.

"Coffee is a key element for our business," she explained. "We need to make sure that when a new customer comes to us, we do not disappoint. Consistency is the key – as an independent we pay every care and attention to each coffee we prepare."

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