By their very nature, coffee shops are fairly dull, artless environments, full of freelancers, old ladies and bearded baristas. You don’t come out of a coffee shop thinking to yourself "Jesus Christ, that was incredible" you leave having just gone for coffee with a prospective employer or lover. It’s early on in the relationship so you go for coffee because you can’t go and do what you really want, which is go for four vodkas. Generally, they’re grey, OK places with reliably sterile playlists.
So its no surprise that one has taken steps to liven itself up. Fuckoffee is a coffee shop in South London, its name a simple pormanteau of the riposte "fuck off" and the drink "coffee". Innocuous as it may seem, the shop’s owners were sent a letter by the building’s proprietors demanding that they remove the shop’s sign bearing its name on account of its vulgarity, labelling it a "trespass" and threatening to come and rip it down.
Despite kicking off a petition defending the shop’s right to boast a sweary name, the proprietors have gotten their way. Fuckoffee is now F*ckoffee, steps taken by the shop owners to appease the landlord. Only time will tell if his appetite for clean language adorning buildings has been sated.
For what it’s worth, I’ve always held little respect for the asterisk in these situations. It doesn’t really work as a censor. I look at "F*ck' and I just see "Fuck". Everyone else does, right? Also, if you’re going to swear, just do it.
A representative for F*ckoffee told Dazed that they believed the namechange to be representative of the fact that "we now live in a society of permanently offended people, constantly looking for offence". The aforementioned petition related to Fuckoffee also ambitiously calls for "The Return Of Sense Of Humour To The UK". It’s up for debate as to whether calling a coffee shop Fuckoffee is that funny – but nevertheless – its signage should be allowed to remain.
It’s not the first time that cafe manager Adrian Jones has drawn publicity for something coffee shop-related. One of his establishments on Brick Lane, that tiny A-road of cereal cafes, coffee shops and bagel joints, hit headlines after having a sign outside saying "Sorry, no poor people". Jones claims that he was the victim of anti-gentrification protesters and that no-one from his cafe had anything to do with it. Whoever is responsible, I can say fairly confidently that that sign definitely isn’t funny.
So now Fuckoffee is F*ckoffee. There’s something oddly sad about looking at the image of a grown man replacing a "u" with a "*" on the orders of a stern landlord who’s probably received complaints from stern passers by, who pointlessly dream of a world in which their children will never see nor hear the word "fuck".
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot