1st Edition

Filtered Coffee, the Café and the 21st-Century City

By Emma Felton Copyright 2019
    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    Café culture is flourishing in cities across the world. From London to Seoul, Melbourne to Shanghai and many cities in between, people are flocking to cafés. A recent phenomenon, café culture has made its reappearance only since the end of the 20th century. What is the appeal of the café for urban dwellers? And why now? ‘Having a coffee’ might be a daily ritual, yet it is more than coffee that draws us to the café. Cafés are vital social spaces, technically connected workspaces, and businesses that are forging design and food trends.

    The café is the lens through which this book explores major changes occurring in everyday life in cities across the world. Urban regeneration has fuelled the growth of urban amenity and social consumer spaces. The impact of technology, social and workplace transformation, and the ascendency of the design and food industries all find expression in the spaces of the cafe. The specialty coffee movement is a thriving, global presence, uniting café staff and customers across geographical borders, with a shared commitment to the connoisseurship of coffee.

    In the book’s global sweep, it examines the development of café culture in China, Japan and Australia as significant and interesting departures from traditional European café culture. Australia is a world leader and successful exporter of its unique style of coffee and food. Interviews with café patrons and staff illuminate why the café has become a meaningful place for many people in the 21st-century city.


    1. The Café and the City

    2. The Café: Sociality and Community from Both Sides of the Counter

    3. Coffee Business

    4. The Exported Café: Australia

    5. Cafés in Asia: Japan

    6. Café Culture in Mainland China and Hong Kong

    7. Ambience, Atmosphere and Design

    8. Wired and Working: Technology, Work and the Café

    Afterword: A Heady Brew


    Emma Felton is Senior Lecturer in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology. She has written widely about urban experience from interdisciplinary perspectives, including gender and design approaches. She is co-author and editor of the book Design and Ethics: Reflections on Practice (Routledge, 2012).

    ‘In Filtered, Emma Felton shows us how the café – and café culture – is entwined with urban development across place and time. Despite variations across continents and populations, cafés have made an indelible mark on our cities. Felton explains how the café is a window into our changing urban culture, work habits and social spaces. She details their uneasy relationship with broader issues including neighbourhood change and displacement, and their role in networks of global trade. This book is a must read for anyone with an interest in urban cultural studies.’

    – Carl Grodach, Professor and Director, Urban Planning and Design, Monash Art Design & Architecture, Monash University


    ‘The author shows the historical and global continuities of the café as a social site. Her study employs observation, interviews and analysis of cultural texts. The interpretations are illuminating and the narrative entertaining. Felton shows how the café, and the act of having a cup of coffee, are at the centre of dilemmas related to how we now live, work and consume. Drawing on historical, cultural and sociological approaches, the study moves between the local and global scales, aesthetic and political dimensions. Along the way, Filtered helps us understand the ubiquity of the café and the centrality of coffee in our cities and cultures.’


    - Ian Woodward, PhD, Professor, Consumption, Culture and Commerce, Department of Marketing and Management, University of Southern Denmark


    ‘An intriguing brew of the social life of café culture and how it relates to dynamic urban transformation. By presenting historical and contemporary expositions that intricately plait café culture with economics, aesthetics, culture and technology, Felton’s book will appeal to both specialist and general readers.’

    - Kelvin E.Y. Low, PhD, Associate Professor and Deputy Head, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore