Why coffee shops are going back to basics

A few years ago, you were simply no-one if you didn’t have free wifi available in your coffee shop. From businessmen to teenagers checking social media, the first question many people ask is ‘What’s your wifi password?’ – often before they’ve even ordered a drink. Now, coffee shops across the UK are starting to buck the trend for constantly-accessible wifi and return to their roots – conviviality, socialising and great coffee.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the spearhead of the movement is in Brighton, where apparently the citizens knock back more caffeine per head than anywhere else in the UK. There are also a large number of tech companies based in and around the city. As a result, cafes are starting to scrap their free wifi as they believe that users are tending to ‘table hog’ as they work away, sometimes only buying a single coffee for several hours usage of the network.

As well as the financial aspect, crowds of businessmen all beavering away in concentration, focusing on their screens, don’t contribute to the social aspect of a coffee shop, leaving it more an extension of the office than a sociable meeting place.  A cafe in the USA has also reported a 14 per cent increase in year on year sales since it scrapped its wifi, and at the Enghave cafe in Denmark customers are encouraged to chat or pick up a book instead.




Although not everyone is happy with the new policy of certain coffee shops, the movement is attracting a following. Could we soon be moving towards a similar system to that seen on trains, where you can choose between a standard and ‘quiet’ coach? Will we soon be able to choose between ‘work’ and ‘play’ cafes, with or without wifi?

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