Cambridge’s quirkiest, smallest independent coffee shop has fallen victim to heartless thieves

The Indigo Coffee House is a very small, unassuming place. Doing what they can with little space, its two floors have odd bits of seating, and curious ornaments and pictures line its walls.

Set up in 1999 by Claire Hawkins after she finished university, the coffee shop – posited just opposite King’s College – continues under her today and is popular with students and academics alike.

However, for the second time this year, Indigo Coffee House fell prey to the hands of looters as staff came to work early in the morning of 25 August.

The retreat, just off King's Parade

The retreat, just off King’s Parade

Thieves smashed a window at the front of the shop and climbed into the building.

Since the cafe no longer holds cash overnight, after their safe was ripped from the wall in May, the robbers emptied change from the till and turned the place upside down searching for more money.

The fridges were left open, ruining stock, and they rumbled through staff member’s personal items – one staff member’s laptop was stolen.

Lilith Cooper, who has worked at the coffee shop for five years, spoke exclusively to The Tab to reveal what happened, and the impact for the business.

“We are very much a community, and Indigo, to many of the people that work there and our customers, is a home away from home. Having someone come in there, and make a mess, and go through our personal stuff, feels violating and threatening.”

Asked why thieves might have targeted Indigo, she looked to austerity. “A political rhetoric of scarcity pits everyone against everyone. People are just fighting to survive, and I think people justify targeting a cafe such as ours because they lump us in with the big corporations.

“They assume we can just absorb the loss because they don’t know how we work day-to-day.

“Big businesses can afford to look after themselves, but we rely on the police who are themselves limited by their own resources.

“Many of my colleagues would call that a generous assessment – there was much frustration that they did not have the man power to go through the CCTV of the alleyway after the first break-in.”

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The frustration directed at the culprit who despoiled one of Cambridge’s most charming haunts can be felt across the city, but perhaps no one more than Lilith, who had some personal words for the thief:

“We are not a faceless corporation. We are not a big business. We are people, we are a community and Indigo is our home from home. By breaking in, you have hurt us and without any real financial reward. You were throughless,careless and disrespectful and we deserve better.

“We are people, our boss Claire is a person, and it is terrible that something has diminished your capacity for empathy to the extent that you would commit this crime against us, as people and our home.

“Also, you took my netbook, which I had left at work because I was working a long stretch of shifts, and didn’t have room in my bag to take home. It has no monetary value – it’s 3 years old, dented and temperamental – but it has everything I’ve ever written when I’ve had to spend extended periods in a psychiatric ward over the last 3 years.

“I don’t have a copy of these, so if you still have it please just return it. I don’t have a good memory of those times, and by taking it you have stolen a part of my personal history and it feels devastating”.

The Tab suggests you get down to Indigo, support this local coffee house and keep these lovely ladies smiling.

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@coopzada