The cafe industry

This research developed as a result of many hours sitting and working in cafes, in many different countries as I continued with my research activities. Having spent so much time in cafes I often thought that they would be an interesting phenomenon to research in terms of how people use them, how the businesses develop and the different cafe cultures that are present around the world. Over the years I had begun to collect pieces of information and documents about cafes and finally decided to put a project together which was funded by Coventry University.

Spaces of Community: exploring dynamics in the UK cafe industry

The aim of the study is to explore the development of the café industry, and understand the role of different types of cafés in a range of urban spaces. Specifically the study seeks to examine not only the economic impact of the cafe industry, but the importance of cafés for different communities and cultures and how the industry is changing.

 It addresses the following questions:

  • How and why the cafe industry is developing?
  • What roles cafés play in communities?
  • How are café spaces used?
  • In what ways do cafés engage with the community?
  • To what extent can cafés act as community hubs in urban spaces?

You can find out more about this research on the blog Cafe Spaces. For a quick summary of research progress in 2016 see this blog post. In addition the research questions above I have been exploring a wide range of issues related to the cafe industry including: sustainability in the cafe industry; cafes as social enterprises; innovations in the cafe industry; and the use of wi-fi in cafes.

There are a number of publications related to this project in progress, but ones you can read so far include:

While this funded project was focused particularly on the UK, I am interested more broadly in different café cultures around the world, and how the café industry is developing in them. Some examples of more global developments in the café industry which I have begun to explore include:

What began as a small idea while sitting in a cafe has turned into a research project with mutiple research pathways from cafe business models, cafes as co-working spaces, different cafe cultures, to sustainability in the cafe industry. For me it will always be a good reminder that you should never disregard even the smallest research idea, you never know what it might turn in to.