Mapped – Do we need this many Costa Coffee shops in Ipswich?
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
There are now more than 30 places to get your Costa Coffee fix in Ipswich, as the coffee shop market continues to grow – but how are independent cafes standing out from the big chains?
Independent coffee shops in Ipswich say people have become “more passionate” about seeking out and supporting local businesses, despite the dominance of brands such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks.
There are currently eight Costa Coffee stores in Ipswich, with three in the town centre alone and 25 Costa Express concessions – prompting the question whether there are now too many?
Plans have also been submitted for a new drive-thru Costa Coffee at the Applegreen garage in Woodbridge Road East – in addition to the site which is at the Euro Retail Park, on Ransomes Industrial Estate.
MORE: Fresh attempt for new Costa Coffee drive-thru in IpswichA Costa Coffee spokesman confirmed it is “reviewing opportunities in the area”, but was unable to provide further information.
Despite the drop in trade following the move to home working as a result of coronavirus, Costa Coffee appears to be thriving in Ipswich.
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Independent cafes say this dominance of the brand just pushes them to do more – focussing on providing high quality food and drink and putting the customer first.
‘Costa encourages us to stay one step ahead’
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Hannah Huntly, who owns Applaud Cafe in St Peter’s Street with her sister Beth Cook, said there are a growing number of people who like to seek out and support independent businesses.
“With more Costa Coffees opening, it encourages us to stay one step ahead and to continue exhibiting excellence through all areas of our business,” she said.
“We have very loyal customers who like to support local and independent businesses and I think over the last few years this is something more people have become passionate about. It really does make a difference in contributing to the town as it keeps money in the local economy, which is vital for the regeneration of Ipswich.”
Applaud Cafe, like many other businesses in Ipswich, prides itself on offering the highest quality products in order to compete with the dominating brands such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks.
“We make the customer’s experience our highest priority. We offer speciality coffee, focusing on excellence from start to finish,” said Mrs Huntly.
Applaud also supports other local businesses by using Suffolk suppliers such as honey from Baz’s Bees, juices from James White and of course the Butterworth & Son’s coffee beans.
Mrs Huntly said the company cares about the Ipswich community and wants to give back to the people who continue to support it.
Before the lockdown, they held regular afternoon teas for the elderly which had become a popular event in the community - but like many town centre businesses, Mrs Huntly said they have noticed a drop in footfall.
She said: “We have noticed a drop in our trade with more people working from home, previously around 40% of our customers were office workers.
“There are generally less people in the town on a day to day basis, which does then also mean there are less customers.”
‘The town centre has been quite flat’
Meanwhile, Kie Humphreys runs family-owned business Coffee Cat, which has four branches across Ipswich - at the Waterfront, Town Hall, Ipswich Central in Franciscan Way and IP City Centre, with a cafe in The Hold opening soon.
MORE: The Hold in Ipswich on course for summer finish but public have to waitMr Humphreys has reopened two sites since restrictions were eased, at the Waterfront and in the Town Hall, but says trade in the town centre has been “quite flat”.
“We are currently waiting on our outside seating licence at the Town Hall, but it is the most spacious cafe in Ipswich with a capacity to fit 43 people inside safely with the addition of a new room,” Mr Humphreys explained.
“Despite this room, it has been very difficult to get people in.”
He said the town centre is still very quiet and understands only 20% of office workers have returned – a big chunk of Coffee Cat’s target audience.
Despite this, the cafe at the Waterfront has been really busy with the help of the summer’s hot weather. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was also a huge boost.
MORE: Increased footfall and ‘sense of normality’ – how Eat Out to Help Out helps businesses bounce backMr Humphreys said trade has started to tail off since children returned to schools and as people continue to keep their contact with others to a minimum.
He said he is enjoying seeing different faces, but doesn’t want another lockdown to arrive if workers rush back too soon.