As has become my new habit on my day off, I find myself sitting and blogging in a local coffee shop. Today, it’s Costa, due to their addictive Hot Spiced Apple drinks that I would happily queue up for all day long. Often it’s Starbucks, due to my other half’s ridiculously complicated macchiato addiction – to the point where he is now a Starbucks Gold Member for the next 3 years – even though our nearest store is closed, meaning a half hour motorway drive is required just so we can get a hit of caffeine worthy for his primed pallet. While I’m at work, Neros is my cafe of choice, partly because I know most of the staff so get more than my fair share of coffee-club stamps, but mostly because it’s next door to where we work, which means it’s all too easy to squeeze in yet another mint hot chocolate before the next appointment – I guess that’s how we know them so well.
“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake.” – Lewis Black
But I’m not one of those that bases my purchases on the quality of their arabica coffee beans, or by the combination of flavours that their summer drinks allow, or even by the rewards that each franchise offer their adoring fans – I will quite happily allow myself a drink from whichever shop is nearer. Which, as any Londoner will know, isn’t always an easy decision when you take a break from shopping to find all 3 chains set up next to each other, attracting you with their varying wafts of warm caffeine and toasted cheese paninis, meaning a decision is left entirely to whichever shop has an available seat.
I see big millionaire business men having their office meetings sat in a local coffee shop; I know of important life-changing interviews taking place while you queue for your cinnamon latte; I’ve seen men everywhere adopting their wives’ habits of “going for a coffee” to catch up with loved ones. The decisions made over a cup of the hot stuff can make or break worlds. I must admit, I do feel myself morphing into a cosmopolitan socialite when strutting down the street with a takeaway cup in hand, the smell of caffeine stimulating my creative senses as I prepare to hit my work-filled day of business.
“We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.” – Jerry Seinfeld
And don’t even get me started on the never ending quest for yet another Pumpkin Spiced Latte. (Even though, ew, PSL are gross.)
Now, we’re even more spoilt for choice, as the season beckons that wonderful time of year – the start of the ‘Christmas’ menus, the gulf of sugary festive treats and the legendary red cups that follow suit, taking their glory as filtered artwork radiating over Instagram. While the Christmas songs are yet to fill the shop stereos, and Christmas cards haven’t yet taken over the whole of the shops, every coffee shop around is already keen to ram their festive treats down your flu-ridden throats, snowman themed cups and gingerbread flavoured everything in full abundance. I’ve even seen poor Starbucks employees from London-Town already being forced to don Santa hats more than 2 months before Christmas actually comes.
The Mirror have created this perfect Venn Diagram (shout out to the graph nerds) that sums up how our Christmas is defined by the beverage corporations so keen to take our festive funds and turn them into calorific diabetes-fests instead.
But do we care? Is it incredibly first world to be basing so much of our seasonal joy on themed drinks? Is all this gonna stop us dreaming of a mid-shopping break to grab our drink of choice and recline by their beautiful fake fires, Christmas lights a-flickering and Bublé in tow?