Sartre, sitars and coffee culture

COSTA COFFEE is the chain of coffee shops that seemed to get left behind in the rush among caffeine fiends for all things American. But in the past few days it has raised its profile.

Not only has it been appointed exclusive caterer to Go, the British Airways no-frills airline, but it has been chosen as the partner in an intriguing retail experiment.

Though Costa has sought to make its 85-odd UK outlets more traditional than the shops run by Seattle Coffee Company and others, it has been chosen by Don Storper, the fledgling US record mogul, as a route into the British market for his "world music" CDs. In another move, the chain may start philosophy evenings at shops.

Mr Storper, who started Putumayo World Music after a spell selling ethnic clothing and gifts in New York, has already signed up about 100 gift shops as outlets for his compilations of music from around the world. But he sees coffee shops as an ideal retail channel because they provide a relaxed environment in which customers might feel inclined to buy the music they hear.

His US experience suggests that his hunch may be correct. Having launched the label in 1993 in response to the interest among customers in the compilation tapes he played in what became a chain of six boutiques (he has since sold them), he was the first to sell CDs in the cafes sited in many of the bookshops run by Borders and Barnes and Noble, the US book retailing firms now moving into Britain.

Mr Storper is quick to point out that large record retailers sell significant amounts of his CDs, but he adds that much of his new company's success comes from the discs being sold through more than 2,000 non-traditional retailers, including clothing and gift shops, clubs, restaurants and book shops.

Although he is convinced that the market for world music is strong and growing, he recognises that its potential has been limited by the buying policies of many record retailers, the conservatism of radio stations and the reluctance of many would-be buyers of his records to go to traditional record shops.

"We are in a position where we need to create and adapt the means of distribution and retail," he says.

In the United States psychologists estimate that there about 44 million potential customers of the kind termed "culture creatives" because they tend to be highly-educated, well-travelled and open to fresh ideas. Mr Storper sees no reason why they should not make up at least as great a proportion of the population in Britain and Europe, but they have in effect been "disenfranchised", he says. While accepting that American and European pop music is not without its appeal, he believes that providing an outlet for other sounds provides spice, much like the introduction of international cuisine. "There's a real disconnect between people and their ability to buy music like this," he says. "Some don't even know what they are missing."

Meanwhile Costa Coffee sees the venture, which will involve Putumayo music being played in the shops and a special "Music from the Coffee Lands" compilation being sold at the tills, as fitting well with its desire to be seen as a quality supplier of coffee. "It's just what you want to hear when you're relaxing," says Jason Snowden, the Whitbread subsidiary's operations manager.

The company's planned philosophy evenings spring from its recognition of the role of coffee-house culture in the origins of the Lloyd's of London insurance market and of gentlemen's clubs.

pounds 49m cup, Review, p10

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas