New cafe capital is full of beans

Matt Fountain plans to open a second cafe next to a new Costa Coffee shop
Matt Fountain plans to open a second cafe next to a new Costa Coffee shop

An independent coffee shop owner is plotting a David and Goliath battle by opening a town centre’s 13th cafe right next to a new Costa.

Matt Fountain, owner of coffee shop Bewitched in Wellingborough, plans to open a second cafe next to Kettering’s proposed second Costa in High Street, which the national chain has applied to open.

Mr Fountain, 37, of Wellingborough, who only opened Bewitched 18 months ago, said: “It’s a calculated risk on our behalf.

“Some people have said you are mad going directly next door to Costa Coffee, but we will put our product up against any major brand. I see it totally as David and Goliath.”

The ‘cafe culture’ Kettering Council promised appears to be blossoming, with 11 cafes already open in the town centre.

Costa opened its first Kettering branch in Gold Street in October 2009. Cafe Javajava opened in the former tourist information centre in Sheep Street in February and Cransley Hospice opened a new coffee shop in Horsemarket last month.

John Fairbairn, who opened one of the town’s first coffee shops, The Coffee Place in Lower Street, 10 years ago, said: “Competition is always good. We have been here 10 years and we have an established customer base. There are a lot of coffee shops in Kettering, which makes competition fierce.”

Mr Fountain said coffee shops were replacing pubs as places to meet and socialise with friends.

He said: “There is a massive change in the retail landscape nationally and in Kettering.

“Retailers are struggling. For me I think town centres will begin to change and are already changing. They will be places to meet as opposed to places to shop.”

Alice Spence, of Barton Seagrave, who was visiting Costa yesterday, said: “I like going out for coffee.

“I don’t think we need another Costa. It’s good to have the independent ones.”

Mark Dearing, portfolio holder for regeneration on Kettering Council, said: “Further investment from high street names such as Costa is great for the town. It’s a sign of the confidence they have in Kettering and in its future.

“It is also really good to see smaller coffee shops opening up such as Javajava which help broaden the choice available to shoppers and visitors.”