THE CONTROVERSIAL new café and coffee bar at the £4.8 million CLR James Dalston Library opened this week.
The venue does not shout Starbucks, although it is a franchise of the world-conquering US firm and openly serves its coffee and tea.
Hackney council decided last year to seek a local business to run the café under the aegis of a big-name catering company.
The decision was a mistake, given the amount of expertise in the local coffee scene as, for example, Ian Burgess, of Climpson and Sons, near London Fields, explained.
He told Loving Dalston: “There are so many small independent and quality coffee operators around these parts. The only reason I can think of is that Hackney wants some kind of guarantee on its rent being paid.”
The councillors and officers presumably saw Starbucks as pretty damn cool, putting into question their grasp of the hipster movement that has made the big-name coffee chains wary of opening in the district. At least the lease didn’t go to Nando’s.
The council’s spill of the coffee beans led local blogs to buzz with rumours that the library café would be a full-on Starbucks. Online derision broke out, until Loving Dalston gave local businessman Gurkan Bozdere a chance to answer the criticism. He said the only Starbucks connection would be the hot drinks it sold.
The café, like the library, in the uninspired Barratt building facing Dalston Square, is months late in opening. Unlike the library, which the council has been busy hyping since its opening in January 2012, many months after the first announced date, the council has not trumpeted the latest opening.
Bozdere has named his new venture the “Dalston Library Café”. He told Loving Dalston that Belle Epoque, a patisserie at Newington Green, was supplying the food.
Already one local entrepreneur has given Dalston Library Café the thumbs-up. Kollier Din-Bangura, of To The Jungle, 16 Dalston Lane E8 3AZ, said: “The café looks comfortable and well-designed and has clearly had a lot of money spent on it.”