The Canterbury Hub

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The five-star Kent coffee shops where laptops are banned

A cafe boss has banned laptops after audacious customers treated his place like their office and insisted he made less noise.

The owner of Canterbury’s Fringe and Ginge revealed guests had even asked him to turn off music because it interrupted their Zoom calls.

Alfie Edwards says the “tough decision” has been well received, with many punters preferring to boost their social skills than screen time.

Fringe and Ginge owner Alfie Edwards decided to ban laptops to create a more social atmosphere

Mr Edwards set up shop in the King’s Mile area in July 2020, shortly after the first Covid lockdown restriction was lifted, as tens of thousands of the city’s residents worked from home or faced furlough.

A one-in-one-out rule meant he and his staff would become well-acquainted with many customers.

But as time progressed and lockdown rules fell away, Mr Edwards became disheartened with clientele spending the day hunched over computers.

Boldly, he banned customers from working to help recreate the sense of community his team enjoys.

“It’s just so nice to have people who were previously strangers that now chat regularly,” he says. “To see people connecting, we’ve kind of built a community here.  It’s a neighbourhood hangout for a lot of  people.”

“There are already many places where you can rent desks, or people can work in the library. We aren’t a big space and we’re social here – that’s a big part of it.” 

Fringe and Ginge in the Kings Mile, Canterbury

Since the ban, Mr Edwards and partner Anna have received bumper scores on review website TripAdvisor. But the east Londoner admits enforcing the new rules was a “tough decision”.

“It’s just something we had to do, you don’t want upset people, but it was the right decision,” he added.

Currently, the cafe has five out of five stars on TripAdvisor, making it the city’s sixth most popular.

Alfie Edwards says Fringe and Ginge has become a social neighbourhood hangout

Lyla H recently wrote: “Lovely chilled atmosphere, a brilliant ethos- no laptops! “You can actually switch off and enjoy the experience.”

One reviewer said: “We can’t wait to fly back to the UK from Melbourne just for some coffee with these guys.”

Another added: “Best coffee I’ve had potentially anywhere, I’ll regularly walk a mile across town passing about seven coffee shops to grab a drink here.”