Café owners around the world are becoming increasingly opposed to offering wi-fi at their establishments, in an effort to get customers to socialise. HotBlack Coffee in downtown Toronto opened at the end of last year without wi-fi – something which has come to be expected from local coffee joints.
Jimson Bienenstock, president of the HotBlack group, said that the move away from wi-fi was a conscious effort to get customers to talk to each other, and denied accusations that it was a thinky veiled method of increasing customer turnover. “It’s about creating a social vibe,” he said. “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.”
This move reflects a worldwide trend intending to separate face-to-face social interaction from mediated technology. Other cafés have taken the anti-wi-fi stance one step further by removing comfortable furniture and adapting their spaces to make it less convenient for laptops and other work. This is part of a move away from the traditional café concept and one step closer to a ‘coffee bar’.