I’m not happy.
Was there a meeting a few years ago, somewhere in Britain, where we all agreed to move from the ubiquitous, ‘brew’ to a complex variety of hot beverages?
I stopped at the services near Lancaster on my way up to a meeting a few weeks ago. I was a bit parched and therefore gagging for a brew. Just a brew, tea or coffee, that’d be fine. Unfortunately I was greeted by a barista serving behind the counter of one of the big chains which have colonised the country. I often wonder if the coffee companies have pulled a fast one on their employees, by making their job title sound like they’re high flying lawyers, whilst paying them buttons.
With the pressure of a small queue behind me, I was forced to try and process the choices available to me before making a decision. With the hot and cold drinks on offer, plus their selectable sizes, there were over 50 permutations of a ‘cuppa’. You could times this by 3 if you’re fussy about your milk.
I know things have changed and I’m a divvy for expecting simplicity, but 150 choices at a brew counter is more than I need. Like the express lane at a supermarket, can’t they have a booth for Luddites like me, labelled, ‘Brew only’
At the Brew Only booth there will be someone like this waiting to serve you.
She won’t use Italian words to ask you how big you want your brew. She won’t give you a choice about milk. She won’t try and flog you a croissant or flapjack. She won’t even smile at you. You won’t even know if you’re going to get tea or coffee. Whatever she could be arsed to make is what you’ll be getting. If you ask her if there’s any semi-skimmed milk around, she’ll put her fag out in your eye. There’s only two sizes, cup or mug. Try any of that, ‘Primo’ ‘Medio’ ‘Massimo’ nonsense and you’ll get a molten teaspoon to the neck.
It all seems a bit medieval, I know, but until that meeting, sometime in the early 90s, that I wasn’t invited to attend, that was the hot beverage experience for us all. The baristas were known as brew blokes or brew ladies and the only garnish you could expect on the top of your cuppa was a bit of cig ash. What happened? A brew never used to cost the same amount of money as the food you had with it!
There’s a real danger that I’m going to become a person that I used to laugh at. The only people that seem to have it sussed are the ones that sit in the car park on wobbly, plastic furniture, necking tea out of a thermos. Yes, they look a bit daft, defiantly perched in a parking space as far away from the building as possible, but they’re just having a brew and no one’s going to make them shriek with a receipt that should be enough to procure a Full English.