It is a mystery to me why so many people are so indiscriminating about the coffee they drink. As we are aware, coffee comes from many parts of the world; Kenya, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Brazil, Cuba, Central America and, for all I know, the South Pole, to name but a few places.
I am certainly no expert. All these coffees have their own distinctive flavour and coffee merchants no doubt spend a lot of time making and marketing different blends. Also, before I start to bang on, I appreciate that there are indeed a very small number of ‘coffee emporia’ which cater for the coffee connoisseur . Personally, I don’t like Vietnamese coffee which tends to have a strong and bitter taste but some people do. Again, there are different types of coffee bean there too. When you buy ground coffee in a British supermarket it normally says ‘blended from abroad’ or something similarly vague on the packet. Perhaps not surprisingly considering the lack of coffee ‘fincas’ in the UK, but would that be acceptable on a bottle of wine or a packet of tea?
When it comes to wine, whisky or even tea everyone likes to wax lyrical about their favourite tipple and even pretends to know something about the provenance of these drinks to try ( and usually fail ) to impress their friends and colleagues. You know...”Oh, this is such a precocious little chateau bottled single malt which leaves just a lingering delicate aftertaste of Lapsang Suchong on the palate”, or somesuch bollocks. But at least people ‘care’ about such drinks. Even gin drinkers worry about whether it is Gordon’s, Plymouth or Bombay ( they all taste exactly the same to me ). So why not coffee?
I suspect the Americans, as always, are to blame. I think it is they who invented all these incredibly naff and supposedly trendy names such as Latte, Americano, Cappuchino, Nochachino, Stickitupyorarso etc. to sell rubbish coffee at exhorbitant prices to the naive ‘lets get with-it’ public, and we have been conditioned to accept it all as ‘good’. In Oz and New Zealand you are expected to order either a ‘flat white’ or ‘long black’. They are thrown into confusion if you ask for a ‘flat black’. I asked a Kiwi what these terms meant. Didn’t have a clue. In fact it just means with or without milk, and noone gives a monkey’s what kind of bean the coffee is made from. Could be acorns for all they care.
Indeed nowadays you cannot order just a cup, or better still a pot, of quality coffee. It is necessary to choose from a list of these dozen or so bizarre and pretentious concoctions mostly ending in the letter ‘o’. Many years ago I remember ordering and being served a pot of coffee in a French hotel. It came with a jug of hot milk and was absolutely delicious. I have never been able to find the equivalent since. It was certainly not some fancy named frothy fizzing fart-arsed confection with bloody caraway seeds, cinnamon or rabbit’s droppings sprinkled on the top to conceal the revolting taste of the ‘sweepings’ used to make it at £25 per quart sized paper bucketful.
Companies like the American Starbucks are to blame, together with all those many gullible brainwashed people who have fallen for their high-pressure and pervasive advertisements and the almost complete take-over of high-street outlets. I suppose we should give the Yanks some credit for managing successfully to invade, unopposed, the cities of most of the world with their crappy but addictive fizzy drinks, burger joints and coffee shops but it doesn’t say much for local enterprise, or taste, or health for that matter. I think the French once tried to put up some resistance, but failed dismally.
Anyway, I believe a fight-back is long overdue, and we should start by bringing back a discriminating taste for proper coffee. The choice is yours. Will anyone join me? I doubt it.