Catherine Skelton Does Leeds in Three Coffee Shops

Over the years the UK has begun to catch up with its coffee obsessed neighbours. It is a competitive market and Leeds has more coffee connoisseurs today than ever before.  

With the rise of independent coffee shops, are the big chain shops on the back foot?
A series of PR disasters has brought poor service into focus. Catherine Skelton visits three coffee houses to check out the competition.

Having worked for global coffee chain, Costa Coffee, for two years, churning out endless cappuccinos a day, it makes me wonder; what makes such chains remain so popular compared to independent competitors? Although this rushed, impersonal service may suit some, for others, the experience as a whole is more important.

American coffee house chain, Starbucks has faced media criticism following a string of incidents with baristas leaving offensive messages on customer’s cups. Earlier this year, Starbucks hit the headlines when 22 year old customer, Rosie Anderson, discovered ‘virgin’ written on her coffee cup. Despite arguing it is light hearted, the occurrence of these mistakes may be a sign of poor customer service which is surprising from such a well-established chain.

I have personally been amused by the barista’s interpretations of my own name many a time.

Image of Starbucks take away cup

Starbucks take away cup

I am sitting in Café Latte, an intimate coffee shop on Otley Road run by husband and wife Asad and Dilnaz Shah. Although, Café Late is a UK franchise business, each coffee shop has its own intimate and personal feel. Located next door to global chain Costa Coffee, I was intrigued as to how it retained business.

I was immediately hit by a friendly atmosphere when I walked through the door. A mixture of students and workers are chatting, reading and tapping at laptops. Owner, Dilnaz 26, made my coffee herself and brought it to the sofa where I am sitting, a nice touch.

She claims that their good prices and discount offers set them aside from competitors, along with their more personal approach to look after customers.

“We moved to England from India almost three years ago with hopes to start a business in hospitality. The idea of a franchise ticks all the right boxes and has allowed us to be independent whilst having security.”

A stream, of what are clearly regulars, pour into the coffee house.

“We are on first name terms with all our regulars, something that I think sets us apart from chain stores. We want to be a place where people can relax whilst working and socialising. Each and every customer is important to us and our aim is to make them feel welcome.”

Co-owner and barista, Asad 33, stresses the importance in investing in the smaller, less well known coffee houses in Leeds. “We care about coffee and delivering it to customers with the best service, something you will struggle to find in large chain coffee shops.”

My experience here has been far from rushed. Staff greet every customer as they walk in and when I eventually left, the Baristas made a point of acknowledging my departure.

Image of coffee cup

Carefully crafted coffee at Cafe Latte

In 2015, coffee shop giant Café Nero were slated by the media after making a profit of £23.6m and not paying a penny in corporation tax.

Dave Olejnik, Owner of Leeds most loved independent coffee shop, Laynes Espresso, made £200,150 profit in comparison and believes focus should be on quality rather than profit.

Laynes Espresso is situated on New Station Street in Leeds city centre, perfect location for commuters, shoppers and coffee lovers. The unique style screams coffee fanatic and when

Dave and Carl Olejnik opened in 2011, they only cared about two things; coffee and milk.

I am immediately hit with the rich, creamy aroma of espresso. Tall tables and stools line the room, giving it a unique coffee bar feel. The standard of coffee making is impressive, with time and effort going into every cup.

Owner and coffee expert, Dave Olejnik, describes himself as a ‘coffee nerd’. “To me, big coffee chains don’t represent what coffee is all about. They are poor value and poor quality.”

He opened his pride and joy, Laynes, six years ago with the intention to not only deliver good quality coffee, but to educate those with an interest in it.

“Every Sunday we run a range of coffee classes to let people into the secrets of the industry. Ranging from coffee tasting to the home barista class, they cost between £20-£60 and always sell out in advance.”

This is something chain stores such as Costa Coffee and café Nero do not offer, perhaps in fear that the home barista will threaten the industry.

When the topic of big chain competitors arose, Dave told me there is no competition because Laynes couldn’t be more different.

“We try to be unique by introducing different flavours and coffee blends. Leeds in a vibrant city and I think the coffee shops and cafes should reflect this.”

The coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia in the 11th century and coffee beans travels a long way before reaching our favourite Leeds coffee houses. I came across Balinese coffee in the Ubud jungle earlier this year and believe, like Laynes Espresso, coffee lovers should be educated in what they are drinking.

Image of coffee samples surrounded by greenery

Balinese coffee plantation, Ubud

Famous American comedian, Lewis Black makes Starbucks the brunt of his sketch when he jokes about two of their stores facing each other on a high street, referring to it as “the end of the universe”.

Tasty Kitchen and Coffee is as independent as a coffee house can get. Situated in Leeds suburb Oakwood, they source their products locally from Yorkshire farms and prepare it fresh for every customer. A long side Tasty Kitchen, they offer an intimate and personal catering service for local parties and events, setting it aside from competitors.

Despite serving a balance of both food and drink, the small, family run business pride themselves in serving good quality freshly ground coffee.

On a Friday afternoon there is standing space only but customers seem happy to wait as the staff make a considerable effort to acknowledge and accommodate them. Although I was keen to stay, I voluntarily ordered my coffee to go which was followed by a sincere apology from the young waitress for the lack of seats.

Co-owner Paul tells me how thrilled they are with the success of Tasty Kitchen and believes this is due to its intimate and friendly charm.

“I would always invest in small local business rather than large chains. It’s important to the community of small towns and I couldn’t thank our loyal customers enough that keep up going.”

Like my other coffee experiences this week, I received top quality service from Tasty Kitchen and I am looking forward to returning to social, work, and most importantly drink coffee.

So as it becomes more normal for people to buy coffee before work or socialise in a local coffee house, competition is increasingly fierce.

The reliability of every hot drink is what keeps the coffee chains going however, independent cafes are also on the rise, delivering equally as high quality coffee and service.

By Catherine Skelton

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Reflection Eight (Final Reflection)

I feel that I have acquired various new skills whilst producing my assignments.

When gathering research for my articles I discovered it can sometimes be hard to get information from people. I had problems arranging a face to face an interview with the council and therefore had to resort to email. This was easily resolves so was therefore did not affect my assignment. I also faced problems when trying to gather information through an online survey as I struggled to get as many participants as I had hoped. However I still included this data as planned as it was evidence that supported my article.

 

Whilst producing my assignments I became more comfortable with approaching people for research. I acquired a confident and polite approach to interviews, both face to face and via email or telephone.  This is a skill that I was excited to practise and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with new people to gather a variety of opinions. I feel I managed my time well and this assignment has taught me to keep up to date with work and to follow a structured plan. I am very pleased with my final assignments.

“Garden Tax” for West Lancs

By Catherine Skelton

The West Lancashire Borough Council have decided to join many others and enforce charges for green waste disposal.

After fierce debates, what is currently a free service will now cost residents of West Lancashire £30. More and more counties, especially in the south, have began to introduce similar charges with Kingston upon Thames charging as much as £69 and Scarborough charging £38.

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Wheelie bins on Scarisbrick Street Ormkirk (creative commons – Catherine Skelton)

Council budgets have been cut and  West Lancashire council representatives feel that enforcing charges is the only way to continue such services. Council representative Graham Concannon says ‘It is purely down to the financial climate across local government provision, as green waste collections are not a statutory service the options are to stop providing the service or charge.’

Backlash Can Be Expected

Despite the council’s clear lack of funds, the proposal may receive a backlash from residents who are not used to paying for such services.

An online survey reveals that 69% of people would be put off recycling green waste if they had to pay for the service. This is a risk that the council have taken as it may result in a change in attitude from residents towards recycling.

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Online survey – surveymonkey.co.uk

However, council representatives feel that, despite these statistics, there won’t be any issues and that the charges will be accepted by most residents, who will agree to pay the charge.

“I think the general public deal with all waste in a responsible manner and they will continue in this way. It is the irresponsible few, the hard to reach groups that cause the majority of the problems.” Graham Concannon, West Lancashire council representative.

It is feared that the charge will reduce the amount of recycling residents do as the annual cost of disposal may put them off.

Mrs Anderson, resident of Scarisbrick Street, Ormskirk whilst not welcoming the charge, understands the strain that councils are under and accepts it with a sense of resignation. “The council must be struggling and this is a way of claiming back.” However for many it will be an additional bill to pay every year as Mrs Anderson adds “Along with all the other charges, I’m not keen on paying for something else but I suppose it can’t be avoided.”

The same survey also reveals that 50% of people garden less than monthly. Therefore this may mean that a large proportion of residents may not be affected by the charges on waste disposal as they will choose not to participate in the scheme.

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Online Survey – surveymonkey.co.uk

The local area also has a high population of students and elderly which may not consider recycling as important.

“I live in a student area of West Lancs and nobody I know does any gardening or recycling and I doubt many students will pay for the service”  Thomas Poole, student at Edge Hill University.

Success For Richmond

Richmond council were one of the many councils to impose charges earlier this year. Representative, James Murphy, feels the transition was successful and caused no issues in the area.  “It hasn’t made a massive difference… residents were a bit reluctant at first but the biggest impact has been to the council’s funding”.

He then adds “It has massively improved the council’s funding and finances as we are now  able to afford to provide this service to the public”. However, if charges continue to be imposed, the cuts will eventually affect a large proportion of the population. The cost to fill green bins with compost-able material will not only affect residents but is likely to affect those in the gardening and landscaping industries as well.

The council have also considered the wages they will save for those collecting the bins. It is thought that the less people participating in the scheme, the less bin-men will be needed for collection. This may therefore lead to a reduction in jobs amongst council employees.

This could be considered a risky strategy by the council as it will inevitably mean that every penny of their future spending will be scrutinised very closely to ensure that residents’ money is spent wisely. If any unwarranted spending is identified in the future, people will question whether the charge for green waste collection is really necessary.

Many residents may feel this is a greedy attitude from the council however, with more councils imposing charges, it seems that the whole country will be paying for the disposal of green waste sooner than we think.

Have your say: www.westlancs.gov.uk/yourviews.

NI Abortion Law: “stuck in the dark ages”

By Catherine Skelton

A break through for many as Northern Ireland reveal that they have reviewed their grounds for women’s rights to pregnancy termination.

With the 1967 Abortion Act not applying to Northern Ireland, termination is only currently allowed if the mother is at serious risk physically or mentally. However, last week the department of justice recognised that adjustments need to be made to the law including cases of serious foetal malformation, rape or incest. But many people are still asking the question “why has it taken this long?”.

The recent review to the law has caused major controversy with people questioning whether these grounds are still outdated for current society. Last week, the department of justice recognised the grounds are indeed “in breach of  human rights laws” and that adjustments need to be made.

Political party Sinn Fein has recently voted to support terminations in limited cases. Political leader, Gerry Adams, spoke to ‘The Guardian’ about how he backs the motion for abortion under certain circumstances.

“Obviously, there are some women who want to continue with their pregnancy to full term and we need to support them, but there are others who feel they are not able to do that and we need to deal with both groups with the absolute maximum of support.” Adams said.

Although this recognition is a major breakthrough for the strict law of Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are only stretching the rights to  pregnant women with fatal foetal abnormalities. Many people still believe that all women should have full control of their bodies when it comes to termination of pregnancy.

‘Barbaric, inhumane and violates human rights’

Northern Ireland’s laws could not be more different to the rest of the UK, as it is a place where politics and religion often come hand-in-hand. In England, women have up to 24 weeks for termination no matter their circumstances. Compared to the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland’s laws are extremely strict and deemed ‘old fashioned’ by members of the public. Many have taken to twitter using ‘#NIabortion’.

Bernadette Smyth, the director of the Precious Life group, has told BBC Online how she fears Northern Ireland will follow in the footsteps of the UK, with 90% of children with down syndrome being aborted.

“We are concerned that some of the judgement could lead to an opening of the floodgates here where mothers with a pro-diagnosis have access to abortion.”

The largest pro-life group in Northern Ireland the ‘Precious Life’ group are fighting to reduce the amount of women travelling to England for abortions. On their website, Bernadette goes on to say how “every baby should be cherished and protected in their parents’ arms, no matter how brief that time may be.”

Real Life Story

Northern Ireland woman, Sarah Ewart, recently went to the press with her story of how, at 20 weeks pregnant, she was forced to flee to England for an abortion. Her unborn child was diagnosed with anencephaly, a fatal condition. Despite this, it was not proven that the baby’s, nor her own life, were at risk so was not eligible for an abortion in Northern Ireland.   Sarah’s desperation brought light to the issue and caused officials to consider the case. This case raises the question as to whether the Northern Ireland’s law is stuck in the dark ages.

Sarah’s mother, Jane Christie, tells BBC News “It’s not excitement or delight, but just sheer relief”. Although, like Sarah, many women seem to be pleased with the recent breakthrough, it still only allows those with exceptional circumstances to seek a termination and this leaves many women unable to control their own body. It appears no thought has been given for these women.

After the recent breakthrough, NIHRC chief commissioner Les Allamby says “Today’s result is historic, and will be welcomed by many of the vulnerable women and girls who have been faced with these situations.”

This is a subject that seems to have sparked fierce debate both in the court room and on social media and despite the recent acknowledgement to women’s rights, it may not be what many were hoping for.

Primary Source Research – ‘West Lancs Garden Tax’

Interviews

I interviewed the West Lancashire customer services team via email. I asked the questions that I had previously planned.

email 1

Email sent from myself to council representative.

I received a detailed reply the next day.

email 2

Email from Graham Concannon to myself.

Graham’s response is very helpful and I will be able to quote him as a primary source in my article.

For an immediate response I rang the customer service contact number of Richmondshire council to speak to a council representative for a telephone interview.

Phone interview with James, Richmondshire Council

I was redirected to a representative that could answer my questions.

Interviewer: Hi I’m a Journalism student writing an article about charges on green waste disposal. I have a few questions I’d like to ask you if that’s okay?
Interviewee: Yeah sure. That’s fine.

Interviewer: How have the charges on waste disposal affected the area
Interviewee:It hasn’t made a massive difference really. Residents were a bit reluctant at first but the biggest impact has been to the council’s funding.

Interviewer: Have people’s attitudes towards recycling changed?
No I don’t think they have. Most people have chosen to pay for the service because they have recognised it is a necessity that the council have been good enough to previously provide for free. The service still runs in the same way so not much has changed.

Interviewer: Do you feel it has had a positive or negative response?
Interviewee: At first residents were of course not happy with the new charges. However the reasons were explained thoroughly and they were given plenty of notice. Overall, it has massively improved the council’s funding and finances as we are now  able to afford to provide these service to the public.

Interviewer: That’s great, thanks for all your help!
I did Vox Pop interviews with residents in the area that would be affected by the new charges.

Mrs Arendsen, Scarisbrick Street, Ormskirk

Interviewer: Hi, I’m a journalism student writing an article on recycling in your area. Do you have a few minutes to answer some questions?

Interviewee: Yes of course.

Interviewer: Are you aware of the introduction of charges on green waste disposal in your area?
Interviewee: Yes, I have heard it is being discussed by the council. I’ve read some things in the local paper and a few people have mentioned it in conversation.

Interviewer: How do you feel about the introduction of charges on waste disposal?
Interviewee: I suppose they feel it is necessary. The council must be struggling and this is a way of claiming back. Along with all the other charges I’m not keen on paying for something else but I suppose it can’t be avoided.

Interviewer: Would you recycle less if there was a cost?
Interviewee: Well I have a gardener at the moment as I can’t get out much myself and he has mentioned that the charges may affect his business if people are reluctant to pay. Everyone needs to recycle their green waste but I can imagine it will put people off going over the top.

Interviewer: Thanks for the chat, you’ve been very helpful.

Online Survey

I created an online survey using surveymonkey.com to gather primary research for my article. I kept it simple and only asked two multiple choice questions.

‘How often do you garden?’
This will show me how relevant the article is to readers and how many people will be interested in the topic.

‘Would charges on green waste put you off recycling?’
This will give me statistics to use in my article for how the charges will influence residents’ recycling.

This shows the results from my survey in graph format.

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Results from survey question 1.

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Results from survey question 2.

I can therefore use the results in my article as primary source research.

Joining Twitter

I have been using my personal twitter account for years and love posting pictures and anything that comes to mind. I am excited to incorporate social media in my journalism as it is a secret obsession of mine.

I found it quite straight forward to create a new professional account. I have chosen an appropriate display picture of myself and a brief professional bio.

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Once my account was set up I was able to begin searching for relevant topics that interest me. This has shown me how quick and easy is it to follow news using twitter.

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I have been aware of the use of third party tools on twitter but have not used any before now. I signed up for ‘Tweepi’, a free tool that helps you to find people to follow. I found this interesting and a helpful way to find people related to my journalism interests. 

4

I have not used twitter lists before to organise my timeline. I have therefore been interested in using this feature on my new account. I have been able to search for and sort categories of people depending on their topic.

5

I have also recently discovered Twitter Deck’, a website I would recommend to any users wanting to browse easily and multi-task. I think I will benefit from it in the future for quick browsing as it displays a lot of information at once.

6

I have set up my professional account using the app on my phone alongside my personal one. This will allow me to tweet on-the-go and access it at all times. I will be able to access and post news at any time or place.

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I have chosen to follow my fellow classmates, module leaders and any relevant news sources/ professionals. I am excited to get started and begin using social media in my journalistic work.

 

Reflection Seven

Last week I received feedback on my blog so far from my course tutors. The general feedback was positive and the layout approved. The feedback has taught me to sub-edit my work more thoroughly before publishing it and to consult the style handbook when doing so. I have also taken on board advice to keep on top of reflecting my work as doing this straight away will ensure I reflect more accurately. Some slight grammar mistakes were pointed out which, again, has shown me the importance of reading over my work and editing it before publishing it.

Over the last nine weeks I have tried to manage my time fairly well, spacing out my work and ensuring I write my reflections within a week. I have learnt it is vital to attend all sessions and if not, catching up is imperative. I want to ensure I don’t fall behind so have been catching up out of class on any work not completed in class. I feel it is hard jumping between work from all modules when studying out of class so try to focus on one aspect of work at a time.

If I could go back to week one of the course, I would tell myself to keep on top of work and to constantly be looking ahead as to what I can incorporate in my work to come. I have also learnt to sub-edit every aspect of my work as easy mistakes can be made and this resolves them.

When given assigned tasks to write articles, I have struggled at first to think of topics. However, I now know that as a journalist, it is imperative to note down ideas as they come to you to. This will mean I won’t forget ideas or struggle to think of stories.

 

Street Names: How To Rule The Road

By Catherine Skelton

Ever wanted to have a street named after you? Just think of the streets you walk down every day, named after historical figures and local dignitaries. That street could be named after you.

In decades and centuries to come, could the descendants of your town be strolling down roads and into cul-de-sacs named after you?

The answer is yes. Yes they could. But it won’t be easy. We investigated the laws and loop holes that might help you get a street named after you.

It’s Not As Easy As You Think

Street naming regulations are enshrined in UK law. Your local borough or district council is responsible for assigning street names (and house numbers). The pertinent legislation can be found in the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847 and the Public Health Act of 1925.

Naming streets is a big responsibility for council planning departments. They have to consider the character of the area, the sensitivities of residents and the needs of local organizations. There are two circumstances streets are given new names: The street is new. The street is renamed.

When new streets are developed, the Builders submit an application to the local council with suggestions for street names. They’ll usually be asked to give a number of options. The council’s planning committee will then make a final decision.

Getting streets renamed is more difficult. In most areas, residents can complain about a street name and get it changed. Most councils will have a form to submit such a complaint. A council will sometimes step in to change a street name if it’s bothering residents or local services. Say, for example, there are two streets with similar sounding names in the same town. Local councils sometimes take it upon themselves to rename a street without consulting residents.

How Do They Do It Then?

Let’s take a look at how this can work in your favor. Here are some ways you can get a street named after you. Walk through any town and you’ll see streets named after the great. There are Shakespeare Streets and Coleridge Closes, Churchill Roads and Brunel Ways. But it’s not just ancient giants of literature, politics and science that get streets named after them. Local heroes can get the same treatment.

70’s hit-maker Gerry Rafferty had a street named after him; “Paisley”, Glasgow, after his death in 2009. Though, in his case it may have been smarter to name a road after his big hit “Baker Street”.

Sometimes, fame and achievement isn’t enough. Barnett council asked its residents for volunteers willing to have there street renamed after former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. To date, no one has come forward.

Councils will consider renaming a street if enough local residents petition them. So, here’s the route to take…

Aerial_view_of_Meadow_Close_and_part_of_Common_Lane,_Thundersley_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1638658

Aerial view of Meadow Close and Common Lane, Thundersley (Creative commons to Edward Clack) 

Simple steps to get a street named after you

Stage One: Get yourself so well liked down your road, that asking your neighbors to rename the street after you doesn’t seem like a ridiculous idea. We suggest a campaign of voluntary community service to butter people up. Mow lawns, paint fences, shop for groceries, cat sit, arrange a street party for everyone. Basically, become a local hero.

Stage Two: Ask your fellow residents to sign a petition to change the street name and present it to the local council. Again, this approach has the disadvantage of requiring a significant amount of effort.All it will take is one grumpy hold-out down your road to destroy your well-laid plans.

Finally: One simple solution, is to build the street yourself. Under current legislation, when you create a new street in an area, you’re responsible for coming up with suggested names and presenting them to the council. As long as they fit with local guidelines on street naming, this is by far your best chance of getting a street named after you.

So, there you have it. It is possible to get a street named after you, but it’s not easy. Perhaps you should take the path of resistance and accept you can’t rule the roads. If people name a street after you when you’ve gone, then that’ll be just a bonus.

Pitch Two – Research

Secondary Research

With my article being in a curated format, I will be using secondary sources to incorporate and analyse.

News Content

I am going to use news content from both online and hard-copy newspaper as a source for my article.

Social Media

I will use social media as a way of gathering opinions and data from the public related the the topic. I will then be able to present this in my article. I will use my professional accounts as opposed to my personal account as this will be more appropriate and help to receive feedback from professionals.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Blogs

I will use two opposing blogs with different views to use as sources in my article. This will help me form a balanced article.

Primary Sources

Even though I will be using secondary sources for this article, I feel this may be useful information in case I need it.

Northern Ireland Government:
Castle Buildings, Upper Newtownards Rd,
Belfast BT4 3PP

Reflection Six

Curation is a form of journalism that allows you to select, organise and present information using professional or expert knowledge. Sources such as social media sites and blogs can be used to do this. I am interested in this aspect of journalism as it adds an alternative format and may not be as conventional as some written articles.

List articles are a way of presenting information or news in a list format. They often have powerful, attention-grabbing headlines and include images attracting the reader. I feel they are affective today as it is known that readers often skim read lengthy articles. The short format of list articles makes it quicker and easier for the reader to obtain the information that they want. They are usually available on social media, making them easy to access on the go. They are also often shared by readers through social media and blogs, making them widely read.

This week I have began to progress my first assignment. I have learnt that it is not necessarily easy to gather primary sources as some individuals I wanted to speak to were unavailable. However, I have learnt to find ways around this and I have still found exciting research for my article. At first, I struggled to decide on a definite headline. I came over this by brain storming ideas and taking my time to decide an appropriate headline. I have learnt not to rush such decisions as it can be vital to the end article.