Starbucks comes to Dalston

According to Open Dalston Hackney council have secured a Starbucks franchise for the new CLR James library in Dalston Square – with all the amazing  independent coffee shops opening up around Hackney this seems like a step backwards 🙁 More at:


  1. I feel like people that would go to Starbucks would go to Starbucks anyway. I don’t think that most of the customers going to independently-owned coffee shops would see a place that bastardises the concept of a macchiato would see it as an alternative. In other words, I don’t think it would hurt local businesses’ local customer base. It would hurt them in having people from outside of the area going to the Starbucks because it’s the first thing they see as opposed to wandering up a little further and stumbling upon a fantastic independent place. How much it would hurt them remains to be seen. Starbucks in Hackney was bound to happen sooner or later, I’m afraid. :/

  2. I take the point that there’s a different crowd of people that would go to $tarbuck$ rather than an independent, and if the deal helps keep a library open then that’s no bad thing.What concerns me though is that $tarbuck$ have a strategy of swamping an area with many stores – so many that they steal business off each other – in order to strangle the competition and put them out of business. That’s not cool.

  3. I do think that there would have been enough local coffee shops ready to take this up and provide coffee for the library, but I guess the council see those as more risky. It would be awesome if Starbucks would consider using a local roaster and there are so many in London these days, but that is pretty unlikely. I like the fact that Pod (an alternative chain) use Union, local roaster, reduce airmiles, keep money local etc, etc

  4. @goodlegs, point taken. I hope the council will be more strict with regards to further Starbucks opening, especially more in Dalston. The last thing I want to see is a situation like the one I saw in New York City nearly ten years ago, with a Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks… and within sight of another Starbucks about four or five buildings away or so. Maybe we could make up maps to nearby independent coffee chains and distribute them, or put up a big flyer nearby on a lamp post. 😀

  5. The solution 🙂 -> ‘Stealth Starbucks’ offers coffee by any other name

  6. @amird But the coffee would still be piss-poor in comparison to any local place selling locally-roasted coffee. \Hey yeah you know that new place that opened up over near Broadway Market? It’s cute and all but when I ordered a macchiato they gave me this drink with whipped cream and chocolate syrup all over it.” In the States Starbucks coffee is roasted very very dark to the point I generally find it unpalatable which is part of the reason why they concocted frappuchinos and other sugary-sweet abominations. I don’t know if it’s the same here in the UK or not. Many of these Aussie and Kiwi-owned places who have helped London coffee culture to blossom so well generally use a milder roasted bean quite different from Starbucks at least the way I’m familiar with Starbucks (which is based on experience well over two or three years ago so they may have changed things…). As a former barista back in Orlando I could seriously go on about how Starbucks is bastardising coffee culture but I’m just gonna take a deep breath and back away from the keyboard. Oh but hey going back to the map idea… I think I’m going to try and make a Google map of some coffee places in Hackney now that I’m so inspired. It could be useful. If I do this I’ll put a post up about it in the coffee lovers group.”

  7. Sorry, but that was not meant to be a serious response, simply an anecdote 🙂

  8. :::insert head-desk emoticon here:::

  9. @quitepeculiar You say that \Starbucks is bastardising coffee culture” but cultures always change thankfully. I remember the days before Starbucks came to the UK where the average cafe served either instant or if you were lucky stewed filter. I’d imagine that today you could walk into just about any sizeable town in the UK and get a reasonable espresso based coffee. Starbucks raised the bar in the UK considerably.That said if you want to promote local quality independent cafes then I think your map idea is a good one.”

  10. I say bring it on. No one is going to stop going to Climpsons or Tinas and start going to Starbucks instead are they. The opposite will probably happen, Starbucks people get converted the other way. Starbucks in Australia had to close most of their outlets because local coffee was too good to compete with. (yes I know Tinas isn’t technically Hackney but it’s close to Dalston Junction). Speaking of coffee map – there’s many of them over here & you can make your own easily:

  11. @benjamin Awww… let me have my fist-shaking rant! But yes Starbucks has through its pervasiveness and its success introduced the idea of premium coffee to America and possibly to the UK (although the Australian/New Zealand influence of UK coffee culture had a heavy hand as well). There are a couple of interesting books on Starbucks notably Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine Commerce and Culture. It’s quite fair-minded and I recommend it if you’re interested in the subject. The book brings up and suggests @nickdonnelly‘s theory of Starbucks people getting converted the other way ie towards independent coffee shops has been happening in the US. In the book it has a couple of examples where independent coffee shop owners have had Starbucks open near them and their experiences have either been favourable (ex: when Starbucks is too busy and people begin to look for alternatives find their café and then start going there instead of the chain) or just kind of “meh” (along the lines of “We sell coffee here not milkachinos.”) A close example would be the Espresso Room in Bloomsbury which is within sight of a Starbucks along with a Tulli’s (or is it Tutti’s?) and near several other places that sell coffee. As far as I know they do all right and they’re well aware of the nearby competition.the espresso room a-board Oh forgot to add: @nickdonnelly that list is great!”

  12. @quitepeculiar Sorry, I wasn’t trying to suggest that Starbucks still defines the quality end of the market, simply that its introduction to the UK in 1998 was a leap forward at the time.I think it’s certainly true to say that that bar is now being raised by independents – in fact, I doubt even Starbucks would deny that (privately, of course). I would say that the Oz/NZ influence in the UK is very niche and recent (I doubt many outside London would know anything about Oz/NZ coffee culture).Regarding  their sweet concoctions…is there really anything wrong with a company catering to the sweet-toothed market?The chains still have one big advantage and that’s predictability. Does your average punter walk into a Starbucks knowing s/he’ll get a reasonable coffee, or take a gamble on an independent where you could be served anything from connoisseur class to undrinkable?

  13. Does this mean Dalston is finally gentrified? Tube station and a Starbucks! Upper Clapton will never get a Starbucks, bizarrely no chains are prepared to go there, and Lower Clapton is pretty chain free apart from Evil Tescos. Not even KFC or MCDs have tried to come to Upper Clapton!

  14. overground 😉 thx @quitepeculiar actually I find starbucks very UNRELIABLE. Sometimes  undrinkably bitter, burnt – it seems it’s really hard to mass produce coffee on the scale they do and keep the quality any good – or even consistently average. Starbucks really is just a huge logistics exercise. You actually get a much more reliable – indeed world class – coffee at any of the decent independents around London (at least the good ones). You do have to know where to go though…

  15. chicken cottage is the new kfc. I bet clapton will have a starbucks within 5 years (unless the aussie effect of too many good independents stops it taking hold in east london)

  16. Careful what you wish for, Marty!As for Starbucks, its fairly simple. If you dont want a bucket of sickly warm milk with a slight coffee taste, but would rather get a nice small Italian cappuchino, dont go there. It wouldnt matter if there were 1, 5 or 20 starbucks on my doorstep, I wouldnt go. But strangely, some people like it, and who is anyone to tell them not to? That said, you can always try to educate them in the finer things in life.Personally, and I know many of you on here would like to crucify me for saying so, I’d have no problem with a starbucks in Clapton. If it makes shopping on lower clapton road more desirable for people, which means more money for the other shops there, that’s a good thing. Its like the Tesco controversey, when a lot of people thought it would be the death of Palm 2, but in fact if anything has been beneficial. Freedom of choice is something that we are priviliged with. Dont wish it away too easily.

  17. Careful what you wish for Marty!As for Starbucks, its fairly simple, really. If you don’t want a bucket of sickly warm milk with a slight coffee taste, don’t go to Starbucks. If you do, fill your boots. It’s not for me, but it is, strangely, for some, and who are we to tell them they cant go (while trying to point out the error of their ways).Personally, and I know many of you on here would happily crucify me for saying so, I would have no problem whatsoever with a Starbucks opening in Clapton. If it makes shopping on Lower Clapton Raod more desirable for people, which means more money for other shopkeepers, then that’s great.It’s a bit reminiscient of the Tesco controversey, when many people thought it would spell the end for Palm 2, but has in fact meant more people now go there to use both places and has pushed Palm 2 to up its game. Freedom of choice is something that we are privileged with. Dont try to give it up. ??

  18. @nickdonnelly \You do have to know where to go though…”. Exactly.@gavinredknap Hear hear!”

  19. More on this from Loving Dalson over here:  So according to this it’s not a Starbucks it will just serve Starbucks coffee! To quote “We want to serve good coffee so we decided on Starbucks rather than Illy” I think I have to agree with David Altheer on this one – Why not Climpsons or even other London based roasters like Monmouth AllPress Nude Square Mile or Union?”

  20. Perhaps the new world of coffee hasn’t permeated into Turkish communities yet? I hope the library users and local folk will be able to support this independent trader when he opens.

  21. I’m shocked they wouldn’t have chosen a local roaster but it’s all about cost in the end. Starbucks is certainly not about taste – not to me, anyway. I will say one thng about Starbucks, though. In Toronto we have a lot of Starbucks that sprung up about ten years ago – three appeared within a few metres of each other in one area. The natives were restless, the independent and Canadian-owned franchises freaked out but guess what? The Starbucks being in the neighbourhood actually increased their customers, an unexpected result. so don’t give up.

  22. @mattyc I agree local traders should have local support and it’s good to know that the coffee shop isn’t actually a Starbucks, like it seemed. Hopefully some of the discussion will persuade the owner to look closer to home for their beans, putting money back into the economy, reducing air miles and in turn supporting their own local traders.

  23. Absolutely- the most persuasive people for the new owner will be his customers!

  24. Sorry to be a pedant, but how exactly would buying coffee from local roasters reduce air miles? As i understand it starbucks has roasting plants in the UK, so if anything given their greater bulk they shouldnt be any more environmentally unfriendly than anyone else. By the way, I dont actually want to stick up for Starbucks (personally I hate the stuff). Do however want to be fair. One more thing – how can his (non) customers persuade him if they are implacably opposed to drinking starbucks coffee in the first place?

  25. ok, road miles too, if indeed Starbucks roast in the UK, I doubt they are as close by as the London roasters – but feel free to prove that’s not the case.

  26. Having not made the original point, it is not up to me to prove it or otherwise. Starbucks might well be less environmentally friendly than a local coffee company, but until it is conclusive i suggest it would be best not to make such statements. Doing so runs the risk of suggesting that motivations arent quite so eco-friendly as advertised – that environmental concerns are a mask for snobbery.

  27. It was just one factor in a list of reasons that I personally hope the new new owner reconsiders his choice of Starbucks coffee. Not \snobbery” but my opinions. You are welcome to yours which appear to be that you wouldn’t drink Starbucks coffee anyway as you are in agreement of at least one of my reasons which is taste.”

  28. Of course we are all entitled to our opinions, but when our opinions are explained with \reasons” that don’t appear to be reasonable it is then reasonable that people wonder what motivations are behind the opinion.”

  29. hey @GavinRedknap, regarding Tesco/Palm 2 at Clapton Pond, can just say that I have been told by several local people that it’s the campaign against Tesco that made them aware of the importance of shopping locally more, and I’m very sceptical that it’s the sheer presence of Tesco that boosted Palm 2’s business. Rather, I think it’s the awareness of the community combined with Palm 2’s owners entrepreneurial spirit that have done that. Admittedly Tesco might have increased footfall in the vicinity, but personally I value too much the diversity independent shops bring to a high street to appreciate having a Tesco express in my area (especially when there’s a mammoth Tesco down the road). Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with expressing an opinion through a campaign and demo, however irritating it might have been for some people at the time. An in my opinion this applies to Starbucks too – people are welcome to go there if they can bear the burnt coffee, industrial cakes and bland decor, but personally I’m with the indies (as long as they are good). And regarding who brought coffee to London first, can I just say that the Italians, the Turks and the Middle Easterns established here have been serving great coffee way before Starbucks, or the Antipodeans were even dreaming about doing coffee in London.

  30. Well I’m glad in that case that the ‘no to Tesco’ campaign raised awareness, though the flip side is that it wouldnt have done so had Tesco not arrived in the first place. In retrospect, though, would you say that the ‘no’ campaigns fears have been realised? Are shops shutting thanks to Tesco? By the same token, is Tesco about to close because of lack of custom from people who shun it in favour of ‘local’ shops? I guess that the answer to both is no. Palm 2’s great management certainly has played a part in the former (another is the fact that LCR is hardly at capacity in terms of shops), while the latter is partly, I would suggest, that the people who tend to shop at Tesco are likely to be somewhat less organised in the support for it than the opposition to those who can afford not to.  That’s an important point: in the final reckoning, the success of a venture should be the yardstick for whether it is wanted in a community or not, not the foibles of an organised section within that community. Your point about good coffee being in London well before the arrival of the big brands is well taken. Then again, there have been plenty of greasy spoons doling out the worst sort of filter coffee too (as well as bad tea, of course). At least the increase in the fashion for caffeine has led to a greater appreciation of those that have always been doing it well.

  31. Ouch. I was merely contributing to the conversation by sharing my opinion regarding the Tesco affair, and certainly didn’t expect the action taken by some (and me) in the community to be described as ‘foibles’. Never mind; at least I’m pleased you describe us as organised – seems the roughly put together campaign made a bit of an impression on you as well 😉 And incidentally, coffee houses go back to the 17th Century in England, and I’m appalled to say women were banned from them. I would have definitely demonstrated against that if I’d been around then!

  32. For the last decade Starbucks has roasted all of its coffee for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in Amsterdam. The rest of its coffee is roasted in the US. So Starbucks does have a highly centralised distribution system, which doesn’t tend to be great for transport emissions, but the UK is relatively close to the European roasting plant.

  33. Sorry, saladefolle, if i come across as aggressive there. I am somewhat concerned however that the opposition to a lot of development going on in Hackney is at root something other than it pretends to be, and certainly cannot be said to be representative of the community at large. When the planning department of a borough can be said to be upholding liberalism in the face of organised opposition to a number of what appear to be perfectly reasonable schemes (schemes that one might not like, but which are not by any stretch of the imagination detrimental to anything else other than one’s own sense of what ‘should’ be) then i think we may have a problem in our happy little borough.

Comments are now closed for this post.