Wherever you live, whether that be the Northern or the Southern Hemisphere there’s one thing that we’re all probably surrounded by. Coffee.
Whether it be in the overpriced trendy independent shops in the gentrified East London, or in Brazil where the majority of produced coffee comes from, it’s everywhere.
For the time being, let me focus on the former. You walk into the same simplistic shop on the same ‘up and coming’ high street, with the same glass front, and the same chalk menu covering the same back wall, with the same barista forcing their least patronising forced smile upon you asking, “Hi, how can I help.”
Despite this, I can’t help but go in a purchase a double shot latte with a shot of hazelnut each time I walk past – contradicting the purpose of my former critiques.
I ask “do you take contactless”, whilst pressing my iPhone onto the reader with my thumb squeezing down on the fingerprint scanner, only to later get a notification from my bank after to see that I’ve just spent an unbelievable £4.50 on one coffee.
I come out of the shop and notice duplicates of the same shop, littered around the same high street. Standing out like a soar thumb is a Discount phone shop, one that has probably been there for 25 years or more.
This is where I come to the main body of my story, realising that the influx of all these coffee shops has pushed out all of the previous businesses that couldn’t afford the upkeep of the inflated rent. It saddens me to think that all of the market shops have been wiped out, even the one that flooded the area with the stench of fish on a Sunday afternoon – a stench so strong you would have to wipe the water from your eyes when walking through. Although in the moment you’d think that this wouldn’t have been the most attractive surrounding to be in, in hindsight you realise that this gave the area character.
Gentrification can be a good thing as it encourages integration of different types of people. It can also increase the standard of living in an area by increasing its local economy. However, when gentrification takes over a place and makes it an carbon copy of the neighbouring ‘trendy’ town, it becomes an issue. When gentrification economically segregates the natives of a town, and pushes them away from their home, it becomes an issue.
If done properly gentrification can make an area more affluent, whilst safeguarding the original character of the town and the tenants in it. If done properly, there can still be the ‘rip off’ coffee shops that I can’t keep away from, or the original ‘potent’ fish shops on the same road. As long as the former doesn’t take over and kick the character out of the area, all is well.
But for goodness sake, enough with the coffee. I feel like I’m drowning in overpriced coffee.