In the late 70s, an old tramp – or ‘Gentleman Of The Road’ to give him a more respectful title – wandered around town asking passers-by, “Could you possibly spare 10 pence for a cup of coffee?” in an accent best described as ‘Cowbridge Posh’.
Because he was always cheerfully polite, most people happily handed him 10 pence. However, even back then you’d have been hard-pressed to find a café selling coffee for just 10 pence a cup. And, other than in Italian-owned cafés with a Gaggia machine, the coffee we drank was pretty grim.
That’s probably why we were a nation of tea drinkers. Now we have a choice of exotic beverages, like the ‘Double Skinny Latte’, the ‘Flat White’, the ‘Cappuccino’ and the ‘Macchiato’.
“‘Ere, Doris! Didn’t we have a Macchiato last year in Sorrento?”
“No love. It was a McDonalds and we were in Saundersfoot!”
Today, the average cost of a coffee house cappuccino is £2.67 and, although it’s obviously cheaper to make a cup at home, that £2.67 also pays for staff wages; heating and lighting; and sometimes a ‘free’ biscuit the size and texture of a shirt button.
Personally, I really enjoy the lively atmosphere of cafes and coffee shops, being a self-confessed ambience chaser.
£2.67 is a give-away price compared to what a ‘stylish’ new establishment in Kings Cross, London is charging for a cup of coffee made from Yemen coffee beans . . . £15!
For that I’d want a three-course meal, dancing ’til dawn to Andre Rieu and his orchestra . . . and a cab home!!
The café is so up-market it employs ‘cafeliers’ (a new word on me) instead of baristas.
According to the owners, customers happily pay £15 for what they say is one of the world’s greatest coffees.
It would have to be!
If, back in the 70s, that tramp had asked “Spare £15 for a cup of coffee?” most people would have called for the men in the white coats.
I feel the same about anyone who, during the course of a working week, is willing to spend £75 on their daily coffee.
Is the kettle on?