Is £1 coffee too good to be true?


+ + April 16, 2017

Short answer: probably.

For those of us who frequent the mid-section of Western Road, the appearance of a new coffee shop claiming to have barista-quality coffee for £1 has been intriguing us for months. Indeed, the outside of the shop said “coming soon” for so long that I wondered if their plans had fallen through before getting off the ground. But lo and behold, now there is Coffefix in the big space that used to be occupied by the Sodastream store (former site of weekend Palestine/Israel protests that made it very tricky to get to Waitrose without a big serving of guilt).

The vibe

A few weeks back, Katy brought home one of their lattes to try, and yesterday I popped in to give it another go and snap some pics. Despite their apparently amazing deal, the place wasn’t very busy at all. The space is huge but isn’t used entirely well. There are some seats along the side and two picnic tables. In Brighton so much of the experience of “going for coffee” has to do with the atmosphere and vibe. And, sorry, but as much as Coffefix tries to fulfill the hipster cliché quota with exposed brick walls decorated with one-speed bikes, it all comes off as a bit impersonal.

Plus one of the tables just had a load of coffee beans on it? Apparently this is so people can be creative with them. Make shapes and pictures. And yeah, it did serve as an ok prop for these photos. But when I first arrived my immediate impression was that it was just messy.

The coffee

Now, I am not a coffee connoisseur. If you want to know more about the intricacies of the coffee experience at Coffefix, check out Sammy’s review. For me, my standards are pretty simple: taste like coffee, don’t be too bitter, preferably have options that include loads of sugar and milk.

The coffee does taste like coffee, but has quite a bitter edge to it. On my visit I had an iced caramel latte and the sugary syrup did make it a bit more enjoyable.

The amount of coffee you get is where you can see why it costs £1. I’m Canadian. I come from the land of Tim Horton’s, where a super huge coffee costs $2. Maybe the people at Tim’s aren’t exactly baristas, but they give me a good, affordable product (and are launching in the UK soon).

The cups at Coffefix are so small that I bet if I bought 3 cups worth 1 quid, I could fill my £3 cup from Starbucks.

Also my iced coffee didn’t come with a lid, so not the best for grabbing for a walk along the seafront.

Sustainability and transparency

Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert when it comes to sustainability, but I am learning and trying to propel my life in that direction. And I don’t really see how a business selling for so little can be sustainable. The coffee has no mention of it being fair trade. In fact, their website seems to deliberately dodge around this fact.

I also have questions about the wages the staff must be paid. Can they afford to pay Brighton living wage?

I don’t have answers because, again, they seem to dodge this information. But I will say that there are plenty of sustainable and transparent coffee places in Brighton.

Just as an aside, I also noticed that they don’t have any recycling bins. This also seemed very strange to me. With the large quantities of paper and plastic cups you’d imagine they aspire to go through, you’d think they’d have something as simple as the option to recycle them.

Gluten free?

While Coffefix does sell sandwiches and baked goods, which are all for a £1, nothing was gluten free. Another reason why this wouldn’t be top on my list of places to visit.

Is it even actually £1 when all said and done?

Nope.

I mean, the coffee is £1, and if you eat in you have to pay VAT which is fair enough. But let it be known that the £1 is for the very bare minimum they can do. Syrups are an extra 35p, which again, I understand. But I’d be a bit more forgiving if the whole place wasn’t covered in EVERYTHING IS £1 signs.

The real thing that made me laugh was the sign proclaiming an iced coffee was £1.50. Really? 50p for a couple of cubes of ice?

So my iced caramel latte at the £1 coffee shop actually ended up costing me £1.85. The same thing twice the size at Starbucks would set me back about £3. I believe same could be said in Cafe Coho, Small Batch and Cafe Plenty.

So is it really a good deal at all?

For me, no. I suppose if you want to grab a quick, basic coffee and go, they’re not that bad. But they’re not really for me. I feel like Brighton has so much better to offer, and the price isn’t really that different. Plus I will always pay extra for the guarantee of fair trade coffee and fairly paid employees.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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