Dear Bristolians, it seems we have a little problem in the city at the moment with organised drugs gangs defying the forces of law and order. These gangs are hugely wealthy, have international connections, and are laughing at the puny efforts of city authorities to crack down on them, by openly flaunting their wares. They are assisted in this crime by the fact that so much of the nation is addicted to the sticky black stuff. Put that cappuccino down, Sir!
Now, anyone in their right mind can tell you one of the reasons people like going to shopping areas such as Gloucester Rd and Whiteladies Rd, is that they are still full of independent shops and cafes, unlike the soul-less, half-empty purgatory that is Broadmead. However, it seems to worry the multinationals that you might be shopping somewhere you can escape them. So Costa Coffee have opened two branches on these streets, despite the fact that Bristol City Council have had the wits to refuse them planning permission.
Unfortunately, flouting permission is not a criminal offence. The council have to take out enforcement action, which will take months. And you and I have to pay through our council tax, to enforce the law against these people who clearly have no respect for the law of the land, the neighbourhoods in which they trade, or the idea of democracy in general.
To be strictly fair to Costa Coffee, the person who actually owns these businesses is franchisee Stuart Montgomery, a businessman from Westbury-on-Trym. In fact, he is Costa's 'franchisee of the year'. Also, Montgomery is a member of the 'Industry Leadership Group' of the Princes Trust, a charity headed by Prince Charles, which is supposed to help disadvantaged young people into business. I do hope that the young people inspired by the Princes Trust will learn good lessons from Montgomery's attitude. Or perhaps he believes in 'do as I say, don't do as I do'. Anyway, I think he's a marvellous role model.
I know that we are all pretty used to the 'one-rule for the rich, another for the rest of us' situation that has persisted for the last decade or more, but I think the least we could do is desist from buying the crappy, over-priced coffee from this fool's franchises. My personal suggestion is this: drink beer. Preferably from a local brewer. Failing that, here's a few places in Bristol where you can get a really decent cup of coffee, not controlled by a vile multinational who've conveniently sublet to some gurning buffoon.
1) Patisserie Leila, Stokes Croft. Excellent coffee and a selection of awesome french-style patisserie cakes. I blame any hyperbole involved in this article on the strength of the cappuccino in this establishment.
2) The Fairtrade Coffee Stall by the fountains. Really decent coffee, in a plausible sized cup, instead of a bucket-sized one, friendly service, and a nice place to sit out.
3) The museum cafe, Bristol City Museum. Mainly for the chance to sit in the Victorian Gothic Splendour of the museum hall. Don't sit in the actual cafe, it's poky and dull.
4) Your own home. Buy the coffee from independent Bristol company Brian Wogan. Lots of fairtrade and organic options available, have their factory located in BS2, providing skilled employment to real people in Bristol, instead of just part-time, low-paid front-of-house jobs. Also making the city smell nice.
5) The greasy spoon, inside St Nicks Market. The economy model, for those days when you're skint and need caffeine/warmth. 100% instant, in a mug, 80p. Service with a smile. Also recommend the bacon and egg sandwiches.