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From the outside, coffee shops look like a great lifestyle occupation. Cool cosy hang-outs, great coffee, boutique teas, fab food, and stress-free smiley faces all day long.

But, Is it?

I recently visited a long-term customer in the north of England. They are open 7 days a week and engage with every customer that walks through the door. Baking at home at 6 a.m. and into setting up the cafe’ in the hope of paying the rent, staff wages and making a few pounds in the process. That’s 12 hours a day. Open for half of your living (not waking) hours.

How long can you do that? I have a huge admiration for anyone who can be social for long periods of time, it is an art form and in my experience energy absorbing, like blotting paper is to ink. Oh dear, showing my age with that one.

This isn’t everyone. Are these stalwarts the end of an era? Or will everything become industrialised, pre-made, and automated to reduce time worked, ingredients, and skills. That’s already happening to a degree and that’s why the Subject line has validation. I believe that it is very possible to still make a decent living with a cafe in the right place, however, I also think there is a scale where things work best.