- About the Author
- On Active Service
Can you remember a time when you asked for a cup of coffee in a café and were given just that? Maybe you had the choice of “black or white” or “hot or cold milk” if it was served separately, but nothing like the huge choice we are presented with nowadays. Even in Italy recently when I asked for “due caffe latte” we were given a hot milk with a shot of espresso in a glass. Ten years ago when I asked for the same it was a cup of black coffee with hot milk separately in a jug. Apparently that’s now called a “Caffe Americano”.
Is it the American market and Starbucks that is responsible for this change to our coffee drinking habits? Latte, skinny latte, flavoured latte. Cappuccinos, frappuccinos. How can they make it so complicated? And what happened to the good old cup and saucer? The majority of these corporate coffee shops only serve coffee in cunky mugs of ever-increasing sizes and look at you in a strange way if you ask for a cup and saucer.
I’m no expert on coffee. In fact the only time I drink it is after dinner in a restaurant or on the occasional mid-morning shopping trips, when it seems somehow more appropriate than tea. However it seems to me that the coffee in Starbucks and Costa and all these other corporate shops is no better than you get anywhere else and vastly more expensive. The coffee in restaurants, conversely, does seem to have improved. At one time we thought it was only in France or Italy that you could find a decent cup of coffee. The coffee on cafes and restaurants was always either too weak or more commonly far too bitter, necessitating gallons of milk and/or sugar to make it drinkable.
I remember the days when instant coffee was the norm, Nescafe or Maxwell House the brand of choice. Nowadays everyone seems to have a cafetiere or percolator, or espresso machine. The tea pot, by comparison, has fallen out of favour, supplanted by the “tea bag in a mug”. (except in our house where we have a tea tray laid with tea pot, milk jug and sugar bowl).
Tea drinking habits have also changed. Earl Grey was available in only a few of the smarter tea rooms. The tea we had everywhere else has now mysteriously metamorphosed into “English Breakfast” and we can have Green Tea, Lapsong Souchong, Darjeeling, Chai…then there are all the herbal ones with their claims to wondrous healing powers.
Give me a cup of ordinary everyday PG Tips any day. A cup and saucer, that is, not a mug…..
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.