Thursday, October 02, 2008

Coffee wars

This week, it came to pass that the coffee in our deli (which is better described as a canteen but I'll let that one pass) changed from Starbucks®TM to CostaTM®. Much more than that has come to pass this week, but most of it was coffee. Or what passed for coffee (and beer, of course).

Note: the duplication of words and symbols in the above paragraph is purely intentional and is because I'm on an economy drive at the moment. Two things have led me to this sorry state of affairs: credit and crunch. And although I know nothing of the crunch, you have to give me credit for trying.

Back to saving words, etc. (note shortened form of etcetera there. Cunning eh?)

You have a choice when you want to get a coffee in the mornings at work. But it's not much of one. You can either go to the deli/canteen, or you can get a free one from the machine. I've said this in the past, but the free stuff is what I'd imagine Victory Coffee to taste like in 1984. The book, not the year.

Matt Cole seems to live off it. Each morning he goes for a 96, which is called a latte on the machine but, well, you know how it will turn out. Sometimes he can drink it, sometimes not. I think it depends on whether they have refilled the machine with coffee. When I'm desperate I go for a 98, which is a caffe mocha. It's a real mockah. And of late, I've been opting for a 91 - a black espresso. At least this only has instant coffee and water in it, so you can't go too far wrong. I still managed to do so today. What an abomination.

But if I'm feeling affluent - as I often am at 9:29am - I pay £1.20 for a grande Americano (a medium black coffee). The Starbucks nomenclature is weird, because tall is small, grande is medium, and venti is a massive bucket. But it's mostly Italian so it must be coolio, right?

This week, with the introduction of Costa coffee, the deli/canteen barista-in-chief tried to impose a more sensible regime based on Costa's measures. For example, medio was medium, and still Italian too. And if you asked for a grande, you'd be directed to the correct version on a bit of paper on the counter, a bit like Funkyzeit mit Bruno telling the Pastor that he has to say 'ach ja' or 'nicht nicht'. Brilliant eh? Had I been feeling clear-headed on a Monday morning, I might have twigged and said the right thing, but I was somewhat distracted by the next person in the queue and we only barely managed to get the right beverages, let alone their correct portion names.

I've since noticed that the piece of paper on the counter has vanished, thus have continued to order Starbucks grandes instead of Costa medios. They are both mediocre of course, but in their own special way. Starbucks coffee is over-roasted, whereas Costa coffee is merely bland. The Costa cups are much better, though, because they're ridged so you don't need that stupid extra bit of cardboard to stop burning yourself. And the Starbucks cups and lids always had a tendency to leak, which was bad for the trouser dept. Oops, I just spilled some Röyksopp...

So I learned with great satisfaction from my visiting Antipodean colleague that Starbucks pulled out of Australia earlier this year. It just couldn't compete with the Italian and Greek cafes, of which there are literally billions.

Note: I won't sully this blog with training updates. It's been sullied enough.

6 comments:

Lucy Jones said...

I think that you should invest in a coffee plunger or 'cafetiere' as they are called over there for safety reasons...
You will never ever get a decent coffee otherwise unless you start to settle for mediocrity...

Jeff Jones said...

That is a good plan. I shall invest forthwith. MCole said he will go halves with me in the comestibles.

Anonymous said...

After toying with options for adolescent humour, I've decided to go with "what happens if you hit "69" on the work coffee machine?"

Starbucks still has 21 stores in Australia, but they shut 60+ stores. And yes, it was because their bland and sweetish US blends were not to the Australian taste...

Why Gloria Jeans continues to operate, I don't know.

Josh

Jeff Jones said...

21? Damn, I've been sold a big fat lie then. Isn't Gloria Jeans inferior to Starbucks?

I haven't tried all the combinations on the work coffee machine. Thankfully now I've got a very good excuse not to.

Anonymous said...

But hey, by purchasing a coffee at Gloria Jeans (in Australia at least), you get to support the good works of the Mercy Ministries.

http://www.grods.com/post/1553/

For people who don't need more phthalates...

Jeff Jones said...

Freedom from freedom eh? Sounds like a worthy cause.

I don't think I've had too many Gloria Jeans coffees. They seem to be a desperation measure when you're stuck in an airport during a transcontinental flight. Unfortunately, that happens too frequently.

The cafetiere is rocking my world at the moment.