Swedish Girl In London

London Life: Bright Lights, Big City. Now what's on TV?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Starbucks must be top bean among London coffee shops – at least if you go by the sheer number of outlets the Venti One has rolled out over the capital. On Fleet Street alone, where I used to live, the green logo appears at one-minute intervals all the way to St Paul’s. If you were an eager Reclaim The Streets little rioter, you would have had to lug around an awful lot of bricks.

That’s not to say other Bucks-style chains are not also vying for our caffeine-stained fivers. First you’ve got Nero, which prides itself on being more European and sophisticated than the extra-candy-shot-and-whipped-cream Disneyism of Starbucks – well, at least you can smoke and the coffees are not quite as large as a McDonalds soda. Then there’s the cheery Costa, and my favourite, the French-looking Apostrophe (possibly about as French as my aunt Ulla, but they have pink balloons, people!), and of course Eat, Pret, Brio...

Now a new contender has entered the arena, apparently. Yup, London’s publicans have a bean to grind. It seems that this incessant latte-sipping is taking our business away from the brass-gleaming counters, and the pubs are hitting back with dirt-cheap coffee. A cuppa for a 50p coin, folks! (Which is incidentally also the size of the hole burnt through my stomach by the last cup of coffee I bought in a pub, but that’s another story.)

Nero’s response? “In a pub, you won’t get Italian coffee made by a barista with three years training”, an earnest spokewoman says (I quote from memory). Hang on – three years? So the sweet teenager in my local Nero must have started foaming milk at the tender age of fourteen? Surely that can’t be right.

On another note, I suppose it’s a bit worrying that pubs have to do this at all. If increased general coffee-drinking is eating into their profits, does that mean that pre-Starbucks, people went in for a morning pint?

4 Comments:

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard said...

Have you ever seen the original Starbucks logo?

The mermaid--whom I think is supposed to be Isis, the Egyptian river goddess, has her tee-yahts hanging out, and you see the full shot of her legs which she is holding up in the air, she is more Rubenesque, and her Mona Lisa smile is a little more, "Hey, Sailor!"

Plus she has THREE little fins instead of TWO--which I guess means she used to be sort of holding up two "Satanic" tridents.

It's my understanding that the second logo, which is ALSO a little more erotic, was banned by those police that they have in Saudi Arabia who enforce the religious laws (and they drink a lot of Starbucks in Saudi Arabia, apparently.)

Anyway, you can see the original and the 1987 logo here:

http://brandautopsy.typepad.com/brandautopsy/2005/06/the_evolution_o.html

I like Caribou Coffee just a little better taste-wise, and the baristas are always wearing caribou horns which gives them a Pantheistic quality.

(In both cases, you have 66.6% of the Sex, Drugs, & Rock and Roll-triumvurate--i.e., subliminal sex, caffeine, and no Rock & Roll. Unless you count those "These are the songs that the Rolling Stones like"-compilations as Rock & Roll.)

 
At 11:04 PM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Sydney loves coffee and in recent years coffee carts have popped up everywhere! Great coffee, good service, long queues... I swear sometimes I think I should give up my job and open a little cafe!

Pub coffee sounds a little vile. Ditto for McD and Starbucks and those huge franchises we have everywhere. Wait, why am I grumpy...I need my morning fix!

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger hen said...

"does that mean that pre-Starbucks, people went in for a morning pint?"

On Fleet street they did... natch. hoho

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I once drank a cup of coffe in a pub. It was foul and seemed to be going against the enitre purpose of being there, so I got them to put a shot of whisky in it. While this helped burn an even bigger hole in my stomach, it did manage to mask the coffee's taste of dirt.

Yum.

 

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