In the beginning was the word and the word was Coffee

The Coffee Shop Wars?

It is my feeling on this Tuesday morning, 9:56am, that no coffee shop chain in the UK can actually do justice to a coffee done well. I have returned to my usual workspace this morning and gone for a surprisingly well created option from Starbucks’ Tazo blend of tisane: Hibiscus blend.

As I prepare for the coming Thursday, and locking horns with the various mental challenges I will no doubt need to deal with, coffee is a no-no. Why do I think coffee shops fail? I feel the systems in mass produced coffee takes away the creative genius required to get to the personal touch in the roasting process. The bitter stuff we consume across the length and breadth of the UK, in the majority of establishments run by huge faceless corporations, has ceased to be a artisan craft. I see no difference between Costa, Nero, Pret A Manger or Starbucks and McDonald’s, Burger King or KFC and the method of driving prices down and getting the customers in used. So what happened to the world in its haste to homogenize every singular experience for the individual into repetitive, across the board, clones?

Colour coded and branded, like the sacks some of the take home beans are presented in to add authenticity, we long sojourners struggle to find ourselves in a space like this. The passage of those on-route to work, college or school, who don’t need to linger is short, and for them there is no need for any consideration of the aesthetic qualities of the furniture and décor.

Also coffee as a true and simple upper has been hijacked by the profusion of decaf, cow milk, soy milk and gomme style syrups that replace the exquisitely burnt edges in the varying types roasts with a variety of differing sugars; lactose or sucrose, or the absense of any reason to have a cup of coffee in the first place: decaf. Like alcohol free beer, wine, etc. there ain’t no point paying for the opposite of what is advertised on the tin!

We all have differing experiences of the coffee prepared for our prole participation. I feel love for only one minute coffee ‘chain’ if it can be called thus? The other 4 or 5, if you include Ritazza; which is the least impressive ensemble, have nothing in common really. Take time out to visit Monmouth Coffee Co. near Borough Market, Southwark on a Monday thru’ Thursday morning – before the vultures descend on Friday and Saturday for the kaleidoscope of food, drink and trudging feet(warm or cold, wet or dry) – where there are permeating waves of freshly roasted, ground and brewed coffee placed within that ramshackle corner coffee house.

From here the comings and goings still occur, London’s bicycled brigade and those seeking the demands of the City o’er London Bridge; north, pass this spot en-route to whatever concludes their morning sprints. But from 9am until 11am this is somewhere the ponderer can disappear; whether it is to trouble the patrons to move along the French farmhouse oak table or to squeeze up the mezzanine to look out onto Park Street, SE1 it is simple to find a zone of simplicity within the breathing heart of Southwark. Arrayed for purloining pleasure are French,Italian, Swiss, American and British breakfast suggestions all done without guile, condescension or pretence.

We merry few felt in those far too inconsequential months of occupation, while belonging to Rotherhithe, Bermondsey and SE1, there was an a kindred parallelity of us on the perimeter of existence, beyond the troubling Brogue shoe, colluding Chelsea boot and stabbing Stiletto feet, enjoying sumptuous English jams, French bread and dodging pointed pigeon beaks; until, we too, had to exeunt up Stoney Street to collect the 381 for our day which began at noon.

Persons living beyond the call of Starbucks, Pret A Manger, Nero and Costa are truly glorious; those who can find simple something’s with which to dance into the rush of the day belong to the worlds turning.


  1. Very true Daniel no big brand coffee chain does it for me. They concentrate on gimics like flavoured syrup instead of being concerned with a quality bean well blended and brewed.For a proper cup of coffee I always seek out an Italian cafe. They know a proper cup of coffee be it a espresso or a cappucino.For the best results I use an old style on the hob coffee pot with freshly ground beans. There really is no beating the smell of a fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

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