BEAR Coffee: ‘coffee connections’ combating student loneliness

Coffee house & bar operator, BEAR, has announced its new Coffee Connections scheme to help London’s new student cohort enjoy real conversations and make new friends in an environment where alcohol is not the driving social force.

Statistics from 2017/18 show that 224,920 ‘freshers’ arrived in London in September 2017, with 33% of them coming from outside the UK, and this number is set to be larger this year.

A recent study by Trendence UK on behalf of WONKHE, the UKs industry authority for Higher Education, shines a light on an often unaddressed aspect to University life; loneliness. 32.7% of students report feeling lonely on a weekly basis, while 17% say they have no true friends at University. This number increases to 1 in 5 for international students.

23% of students couldn’t agree that if they needed help, they would have someone to call on. This is exacerbated amongst new starters, particularly in the first few weeks of starting university, and the problem can be compounded when individuals are not into the typical student activities of going out and drinking. Freshers week is viewed as the pivotal moment to meet new people, but activities and events are often focused around alcohol and late nights. Indeed, 2018 research from NUS, which surveyed 2,215 students, says that 76% feel there is an expectation for students to drink and get drunk, but 21% of students don’t drink at all.

The BEAR ethos of creating a comfortable environment to enjoy coffee and of working to improve its local community has led co-founder Craig Bunting to bring the #CoffeeConnections scheme down from the midlands to its Soho site, inside the Jack Wills flagship store on Foubert’s place.

“Working to improve the communities in which we operate is a part of BEAR’s DNA. From our recent Brave The Shave initiative in Uttoxeter to our partnership with The Dignity Project, we pride ourselves on being a force for good rather than just another coffee shop,” said Bunting.

Between 16 September and 27 October, students will be able to drop in and take a seat at a specially installed large communal table in BEAR’s downstairs lounging area to meet likeminded people who are looking to make real connections outside of the stereotypical alcohol-fuelled bonding sessions, all while enjoying free specialty coffee.

BEAR are offering every student 5 free coffees, which is 5 chances at making a new friend. Details of how to claim coffees can be found at

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