Video Corpus

The video corpus is 60 gigabytes in size, individual videos varying from 8mb to 1gb, and so is not suitable for web access. However the visual index is available here, along with a sample of the content (a five second excerpt). Individuals CDs of VCDS can be mailed to researchers on request.

Click on images to enter visual index

What happens at the counter

Encounters between the unacquainted and the unexpected

Entering, greeting and more

Groups of customers


Pairs of customers


Selecting a space in the cafe

Single, lone and unaccompanied customers

Various effects of video recording cafe life

(requires Quicktime 6)


Excerpt from interview with City of London officeworker on meetings in the cafe

Excerpt from interview with artists on their studio and the cafe

Excerpt from interview with journalist/novelist on the arrival latte culture, his favourite cafes and the gradual disappearance of smoking.

Excerpt from interview with loner on enjoyment of being left alone in public

Excerpts from interview with starbucks employee on: the third place, curious coffee orders, characters in the cafe, more on characters, moral aspects of the job, formatting orders, friendships, the background music, operating the tills, changing times of day, on training, more on training and yet more on training and the quotable 'looking like your order'.

Excerpt from interview with owner of tramsport cafe on: budget tourists, making profits, lorry drivers using CB radio, the character of truckers, winning awards, decorating the cafe, the transport cafe being used as a drop off zone, providing a home away from home, greeting customers, having trouble on the parking lot, more on parking, the regulars, the importance of being on the right location on the motorway, sociability, the times of the day and the transport cafe as a workplace.

Excerpt from interview with one of group of friends who met and meet through the cafe

Excerpt from interview with shoppers on uses of the cafe

Cafe Stories

Benjamin Poor (10th February, 2004) writes:

As someone who once considered opening a cafe, I thought I might give you some thoughts.

I became very interested in cafe culture after spending six months in Vienna. For a variety of reasons, I believe Vienna has earned the title of Cafe Capital, above and beyond even the likes of Paris. Two reasons cafes blossomed in Vienna are the discovery of coffee after the Turkish siege of the city and the layout of the urban landscape. Whether due to the massive build up with emphasis on affordable public housing at the turn of the 20th century or due to the city's complex evolution from a Roman settlement to a medieval walled city, residential space has always been at a premium in Vienna. Such congestion created a pent-up demand for space, some escape where one could linger outside of the home, yet still enjoy warmth and a pleasant atmosphere. No surprise then that the cafe is called "the livingroom of the Viennese."

I suspect that initially, cafes were patronized by the bourgeoisie and perhaps the aristocracy. However, it became a gathering place easily accessible to the lower ranks of society. Given the relatively low cost vs. a bar, theatre, or restaurant, cafes offered the opportunity for those of lower means to congregate, including students (in the US, where minimum age for alcohol is rather high and regularly enforced, the cafe has a special appeal to students). So you now have a place filled with intellectuals sipping stimulants--good breeding grounds for revolutionaries and great thinkers (Trotsky, Freud and many other notables frequented the Viennese cafe).

In modern times, the evolution of packaging and the demand for volume sales has changed the cafe landscape. Real estate has also often priced out the family run cafe in favour of the larger chains (Aida in Vienna, Starbucks in the US). As such, the atmosphere has become more sterile--the furnishings are homogenous and non-descript and music is piped in (due to fear of silence, or as another sales opportunity).

Nonetheless, particularly in nations outside the UK, where pub culture has probably fulfilled much of the cafe role, the cafe plays a very important place in society.'

Corpus consent forms :   Audio 

Corpus information forms : Audio