Costa Coffee recently refurbished their shop on East Oxford's Cowley Road but is it any better?
Costa Coffee recently refurbished their shop on East Oxford's Cowley Road.
The bland corporate decor of the previous Costa Coffee shop has been compounded by even blander and badly finished weekend cowboy job that has left a big gap under a door, and skirting boards jammed up with filler. The contractors, Rush and Bodge-it Ltd., even managed to drill a hole in a cable knocking out the air-conditioning for several weeks.
Aesthetically the unimaginative ad-art and poorly chosen muzak seem designed to annoy customers into leaving after a few minutes.
Generally the Costa Too Much shop refurbishment seems to have been deigned by a paranoid military security consultant with seven (yes! 7) closed circuit TV cameras and a big new plasma screen TV where you can watch yourself watching yourself.
In addition to that the toilets now have digital locks on the doors so it is now necessary to buy something before you can use the loo because the door lock code is printed on your receipt.
Then there is the little matter of the new security guard, whose main activity seems to be flirting but who doubles up clearing tables and scowling at people who stay over half an hour.
If you want to use WiFi at Costa Too Much you now have to give them your phone number so they can log you on for half an hour. If your want longer you have to join their Club Card so that they get all your personal data in the application and can sell it or spam you if they choose.
To cap it all there is a new notice board where you can display flyers and posters about local events etc. Painted over the notice board is a sign which says... OUR COMMUNITY.
Contrast this paranoid corporate fascism with the old Excelsior Cafe, also on Cowley Road, where for decades all and sundry have been welcome. There you can even get a discount and have a slate if your are a regular customer. Some time ago the owner of the Cafe got an award from Oxford City Council for his humanitarian policy in welcoming people with mental health problems into the Cafe alongside the general public. I suppose you could say the Excelsior is inclusive and community minded as opposed to exclusionary and selfish money focused attitude of Costa Too Much.
So if you want to drink coffee in a video goldfish bowl I guess you'll be happy at Costa Too Much. Me personally I'll keep going to the Excelsior as long as it stays open and when I need WiFi I'll go to Ricks Cafe a short distance away Cowley Road which is also quite friendly and relaxed.