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Independent coffee shops fear they will have to share cost of ‘latte levy’ with customers

'It’s a good cause, but we wouldn’t be able to survive a 20 per cent increase in our prices'

11 January, 2018 — By Robbie Harb

Dave Grosz at the Camden Coffee House

INDEPENDENT coffee shops in Camden fear they would have to share the cost of a possible “latte levy” on disposable cups with their customers.

The government is considering a 25p tax on each coffee as a way of tackling waste and funding more recycling services. But some shops say they do not make enough money to shoulder the cost.

Dave Grosz, the manager of Camden Coffee House in Camden Road, Camden Town, said: “It’s a good cause, but we’re going to have to share the extra cost with our customers because we can’t handle it as a small business. We wouldn’t be able to survive a 20 per cent increase in our prices.”

Andrew MacPherson, manager at Melrose and Morgan in Primrose Hill, said: “Five pence for a plastic bag when you’re spending £40 on groceries is not that bad. But the margins on coffee are so fine, a 25p charge on a £2 coffee is going to affect the small guys in Camden massively.”

He said the cafe in Regent’s Park Road would try to absorb the cost. “Hopefully the levy will encourage people to use a re-usable plastic cup,” he said, “but the cost of producing them and the footprint of manufacturing them doesn’t always cancel itself out.” He added: “We need to be aware of the manufacturing costs behind eco-friendly products before we make big decisions like this. We might be fixing one problem and swapping it for another.”

In Kentish Town, Gavin Fernback from The Fields Beneath, said that the levy is a step in the right direction but that the government needed to do more. He said: “The amount of takeaway cups we use is outrageous, we’re serving about 200 a day, so I think it’s a step in the right direction. But I don’t think it will solve the problems of sustainability.”

He added: “A 25p levy is only allowing those who can afford it to continue to live unsustainably. If what we’re saying is that this level of cup use is unsustainable, then let’s stop it completely. It’s not being more sustainable, it’s being less unsustainable,” he said.

The Fields Beneath currently offers a 10p discount to customers who bring in their own cups.

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