Waitrose paper cups prompt protests

It's a storm but for once there's no teacup.

Chichester Waitrose has received complaints from customers annoyed that they now have to drink coffee from paper cups instead of china in its café, the Observer understands.

The in-store café also no longer serves food on china plates, instead people eat their cakes and snacks from paper plates, irking some regular visitors.

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Complaints were made about the lack of crockery as well the change from sofas to wooden chairs in a new café layout, staff said.

The swap from crockery to paper came when Costa moved out of the Via Ravenna store last year and Waitrose turned it into their own café.

While many say the price of coffee has gone down while the quality has gone up, others complained that crockery is used at rival supermarkets in the city, as well as other Waitrose stores like Worthing.

One regular female customer said: “If you go into Waitrose you expect to be able to drink a cup of coffee from a real cup. You get that in Sainsbury’s in Chichester.

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“You see them using paper plates and cups and you wonder what else they’re cutting back on.”

A Chichester couple, who said they were regular Waitrose customers, said: “We enjoy coming here. We’re not annoyed about using paper plates, but we are a little disappointed that they don’t provide proper cups.

“There’s much more room here now they’ve change it, it’s nicely presented and much better than Costa.”

A café staff member said: “There were complaints at first but I think people like it now we’ve changed, we’re really busy.

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“It’s more hygienic and customers get a much bigger quantity (of coffee).

“I think they (Waitrose) are looking to change to china but we have that more in our bigger stores and it would mean getting a dishwasher in.

People also said the new chairs are cheap but the whole point is they’re easy to clean, the old settees were horrible.

“The plates were polystyrene but are now made of sugar cane so they’re recyclable, the cups I don’t think can be recycled but the plastic tops can be.”

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Friends Dani Taylor, 36, and Liz Dyson, 46, said they didn’t mind the paper plates and cups, just as long as they were being recycled.

Dani said: “I’ve just moved to the area so it’s the first time I’ve been here.

“I don’t mind them being paper just as long as they are recyclable.

“Maybe giving the customer a choice between paper or china cups would be best but only if both are environmentally friendly.

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Liz said: “People who want coffee from china cups would probably go somewhere else, I come here because it’s nice and is really reasonable.

“But if they do recycle maybe they should advertise it better.”

Zoe, 32, said she came there because Waitrose cardholders can get a free hot drink when they buy a cake at the café.

“I like the fact that they have changed over from polystyrene to paper plates because they can be recycled, but only if they do recycle.”

A Waitrose spokesman said: “The feedback of our customers is hugely important to us and the comments we have received will help shape any future plan.”

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