Harris & Hoole has caused quite a stir in the UK. They have the appearance and mission statement of an independent coffee chain, but one of the major investors is Tesco. The press went nut burgers, crying that it was a grand deception; people thought they were supporting David, but were in fact lining the pockets of Goliath.
My favourite food blogger Foodstinct wrote a post a couple of weeks ago, looking at if a coffee chain funded by a corporate could still remain authentic. It got me thinking about why I choose to buy coffee at Prufrock and Workshop instead of Starbucks and Pret.
In the case of Starbucks I don’t give them money because they are lying tax dodgers that don’t support the local economy, whereas for Pret I just don’t like the coffee. As a slight stereotype independents like Prufrock and Workshop make superior coffee. They put thought into every step of the process, and the resulting brew is tasty in the extreme. I also like supporting them because they need the support, loyal customers are vital to their survival.
So where does that leave Harris and Hoole? On a rainy Sunday I trudged to the Tooley Street cafe and purchased a Flat White and a bacon toastie. I have to say, in terms of atmosphere they have completely strayed from the Prets of this world. It’s warm, welcoming and there were genuine smiles everywhere.
The coffee was pretty damn good as well. I still think that Prufrock et al are the best coffee in London, but Harris and Hoole are leagues ahead of the other chains.
But there is what I consider to be one massive problem with Harris and Hoole, and it all comes down to price. A medium Flat White was £2.90 which I think is taking the piss. I would think twice about paying that at an independent shop let alone at a chain with a corporate backer (as a comparison, a large Flat White at Costa is £2.40).
Tick for the coffee. Tick for the food. Tick for the atmosphere. Even tick for the Tesco funding (after all, with companies like HMV folding we need to support all UK businesses). But I can’t afford to buy coffee at Harris and Hoole, so it’s a no from me .