At the end of last month, Coca Cola — the massive American conglomerate — bought Costa Coffee for £3.9 billion in a move that signals the company’s acknowledgement of the future for their sugary drinks.
Coca Cola isn’t just a fizzy drink retailer anymore though either. Innocent Smoothies, another British brand, were another of Coca Cola’s other most famous purchases in recent times. Innocent are commonly associated as a healthy food brand. But why should you care?
Quality, quality, quality
As a chain, the quality of Costa’s food and drink has always been questionable. However, with scale comes shareholder interest. Chasing profits and reducing costs are the only consideration. The quality of their coffee (and other products and service) is likely to continue to follow a downward spiral. Career baristas are highly skilled and cost significantly more than the minimum waged, unskilled, unmotivated workers that might be found in your local chain.
Quality is then compensated with marketing and false hype to drive customers into their shops. Can you get full provenance and transparency on their coffees? Can Costa guarantee that they pay their farmers a fair wage? Unlikely.
Big vs. small business
In an unfortunate way of the world, running a smaller business – especially one that specialises in quality, has far higher costs. The small business also has less power to influence external factors such as government policy. Add to this the lack of resources required to be financially ‘efficient’ (aka. murky accounting). This is best compared with other massive companies such as Amazon and Facebook, who do provide jobs but also pay very little in tax due to elaborate offshore banking schemes.
Not only does the money going to these large companies line the pockets of fat cats and shareholders, but it also leaves the country.
Isn’t it just so dull?
In a quest for gentrification, it seems as though there’s a willingness to back the big chains. The chains offer something comforting and familiar. Ultimately though, even London is beginning to lose its identity in the face of polished brands and faceless companies. Is this really where we want to live? Every high street looking the same. Feeling the same. We’re already mostly there.
Call to action!
Of course there’s a chain on every corner, that’s the point — it’s meant to be easy for you. They’ve engineered their locations this way. But this is call to action to go and support your local independent shops. Whether you are supporting cafes, boutiques, florists or everything in between — these small businesses need your custom. And when they’re gone, they’ll be gone for good. #supportindependent