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  • Writer's picturealfietrobinson

In Review + reflections – Coffee Clothing Collective

The British love coffee, almost more than the Americans do. We love it so much that we get through over 2.3billion* cups of the stuff via any one of the 22,845* coffee outlets that are now helping us through our days. Taking up 54%* of the outlet share the leading chain coffee shops are expanding at an increasingly alarming rate. With that rise it now seems like you can’t walk down a street without seeing the ground littered with at least one branded coffee cup and although there has been lots of recent media pressure towards the chains to bring in more sustainability, the wider communities surrounding them are having a hard time seeing it. With our high streets now becoming a battleground for the likes of Costa and Starbucks I often try to stay independent wherever possible in my daily hunt for the perfect cup.

With independent coffee shops also on the rise, although nowhere near as fast as the rise of the chains, we are slowly starting to see more sustainable friendly stores opening up. One rising concept store is ‘Coffee Clothing Collective’ (CCC) headed by founder Chris Wilson, in Birmingham. Chris hopes to strive on a mission in bringing a good cup of coffee into the hands of regular chain customers. His aim is to help the surge of independent coffee shops and other small businesses by avoiding transactions with big suppliers who take away from the locals and encouraging others to do the same. With numerous big house chains regularly increasing prices while also avoiding taxes Chris decided to pair his love of coffee together with his passion for sustainable clothing, thus CCC was born.

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Collaborating with a number of small UK-based roasters, CCC hope to bring you the best speciality coffee, rotating regularly to support as many roasters as they can while also branding around ‘clothing and coffee bundles’. Chris explains that “CCC are big on sustainability and don’t want people to just buy our stuff for the sake of it, we don’t believe in 52 seasons a year of fashion”. Proving that they are big on sustainability, CCC recently introduced a plant-based coffee cup from @vegware, point blankly proving that having compostable coffee cups can be implemented, something that major chains should seriously be looking at. It is hard to believe that most independent coffee stores can afford to invest in these areas whereas the major brands overlook them purely for profit.

Often people view independent shops as being a luxurious location causing them to also believe that they are more expensive. This stigma of belief is perhaps caused by the fact many independent stores have blossomed in more wealthy areas, although the demand may just be higher and the knowledge of what makes a good coffee greater. Chain stores are here to promote quickness on the go, whereas we may view visiting an independent as a place to go and make the most of the unique surroundings and perfectly brewed coffee. Yes, coffee chains are noticeably faster in preparation but that creates a flaw in the end product. We go for the quickness and perhaps because we go in and out so fast most of the time we don’t actually notice that the price of your latte is 50p more expensive than the independent store 40metres away. That stand-alone shop is using a much higher quality of bean and their barista will engage with you much more than the corporate robots you may encounter in your local Costa. This becomes overlooked by many current coffee drinkers, but the wave of conscious, creative individuals, like Chris and myself, are here and hope to make a change to the industry in the better direction.

In my view CCC is leading the way in showing that independent brands can strive not only for all the successes of a major chain but go beyond that norm and offer a brand new shopping experience of sustainable local loving business that leaves a much smaller footprint than the chain giants that litter our streets. In the words of its founder, Chris, “life is too short for bad coffee” so perhaps head over to their website and see what good coffee and clothes are all about.

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*Figures Via UK Coffee Leader Summit 2017.

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