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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: I wonder if there is going to be a new Third Place?

The original Starbucks opened in 1971 and by 1986 had only expanded to 6 locations – but the founders were bought out by budding franchiser Howard Schultz in 1987.

The premise behind the franchise idea was that people needed a “third place” to drink coffee.

The first place was their home.

The second place (in the USA at the time) was a grainy filter coffee in a polystyrene cup at a garage.

The third place offered coffee, somewhere to sit, music, newspapers and a variety of tempting foodstuffs.

The rest (as they say) is history and here we all are enjoying beverages at over £3.00 a cup and similarly priced buns and panini.

Over 21,000 Starbies locations globally and then add in Costa, Cafe Nero, Pret a Manger, Cafe Ritazza and a bazillion independently owned cappuccino bars.

The “west coast coffee culture” has become embedded in the developed world and we assume an inalienable right to access wifi and work in these locations, along with all the yummy mummies, grey wavers, school kids, desperate housewives, students and business travellers.

My speculation is “what next”?

Life goes on, things change, the coffee bars of the South Sea Bubble in London’s 1720’s gave rise to The London Stock Exchange.

What will the coffee bars of the early 21st Century give rise to?

Will there be a “Fourth Place”?

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