A very British insurrection is under way over plans to bring the first branch of a major coffee chain to a small Devon town. But why are coffee chains such a battleground?
At half nine on a bright morning the aroma of arabica gently percolates through Totnes’s narrow lanes and alleys.
That smell of roasting beans is difficult to escape. In this settlement of fewer than 8,000 souls there are 41 different places to buy a hot cup of the stuff.
And yet plans to open just one more coffee outlet have provoked fury – opening up a dispute as bitter as the darkest espresso.
The latest addition to the town’s High Street will be a branch of Costa – the first coffee chain to breach the citadel of a community fiercely proud of its independently owned outlets.
So far 5,749 people – equivalent to three-quarters of the town’s population – have signed an anti-Costa petition and pledged to boycott the new branch. Its approval by South Hams District Council was greeted by a 150-strong group of placard-wielding demonstrators who marched through Totnes’s streets in protest.