Business is brisk at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon in a popular new coffee shop in North London — a queue of customers snakes back from the fashionable granite-topped counter to the door.
Everything about this place is designed to look individualistic and a little quirky: an independent artisan coffee bar offering the discerning drinker something special.
After all, how could it be anything else with a stylishly offbeat name like Harris + Hoole, inspired by two coffee-loving friends featuring in Samuel Pepys’ diary?
But all is not as it seems. In fact this achingly cool and ostensibly autonomous coffee joint is part of Tesco.
This is the supermarket giant’s first foray into the burgeoning coffee-shop market, having already taken on competitors in almost every other field from grocery stores to pharmacies, banks to opticians.
But as you look around, you won’t find a single clue linking this trendy place to its mothership. There are no Clubcard points here, no reminders that ‘Every little helps’.
In fact, you can’t help concluding that the chain has gone out of its way to distance itself from Tesco. And the formula appears to be working, since every table is occupied.
With free wi-fi and baristas busily making macchiatos and flat-whites on demand, this really is the new place to be seen in London.
VINCENT GRAFF – Daily Mail