I went to a coffee shop recently, one I’ve held a grudge against for a little while since the manager went bat shit crazy at me for showing my girlfriend affection by cuddling and kissing her, a little peck I should add, whilst at our table, in the corner, away from everyone who didn’t seem miffed. Honestly, the hot-headed she-devil screamed at us for making a scene, when we hadn’t even made a sound and had previously gone unnoticed by the perfectly happy introverts in the rest of the room. Demonic bitch. Sorry, I’m rambling, what I meant to say was I was dragged in there again because it’s the only coffee shop in fair old Shrewsbury with comfortable furniture that you are allowed to lie down and fall asleep on, and my girlfriend and I ordered a pot of tea to share between us, which did nothing short of earn my disappointment and remind me one of the other reasons I avoid coffee shops nowadays.
The teapot was a cutesy little blue clay pot, around the size of a fist, with the most ridiculous little spout that was barely that long in comparison to a beetle’s dick and about as useful for pouring tea as a pancake is for digging a grave. The cups were wide at the top but again tiny and could only really hold what I could spit into it. As for the tea itself, flavourless and overpriced – £3.00 for a pot worth four tiny teacups, which in itself would probably only just about fill a mug. For the record, since when did a standard cup of tea become ‘English Breakfast’ tea? I drink tea pretty much all fucking day, not just at breakfast. If I say tea, you will serve me a teabag subjected to boiling water whilst sat in a teapot then poured into a mug, a mug bigger than my testicles I might add, that has a splash of milk and two sugars at the bottom. I am not Arthur Dent and you are not a computer, why do I need to go through a routine with you from Douglas Adams’ most well-known book? Earl Grey is Earl Grey, tea is tea.
I’ve decided I don’t buy into the coffee shop craze, tried it and liked it for a while when I was younger but that was before it really caught on, that’s right, ultimate hipster here folks, was a hipster before the hipsters were hipsters or hipster trends were even established. I only ever visited them late at night mind you, when the only other people who’d be there would be people I knew or people who just wanted somewhere to work in peace. As my budget tightens and my cynicism flowers into a hideous plant made of shit, I’ve noticed though that for what it is, it’s overpriced and not too much in it. I’d probably spend more time and money in these places if they didn’t ask me to empty my wallet for half a cup of tea then offer me the most expensive cakes imaginable, which measure in at the same dimensions at my finger. Call me a philistine but I do sometimes think I got more bang for my buck from old cafes, who lack the pretentious prettiness of your cute coffee shops but at least they know what size a cup of tea is and that I want it to come from a teabag that came in a multipack, not the extracted nostril hairs of a mystic yak or however these ‘fancy’ brands come about.
One argument you might hear is that it’s not just the food and drink you come out for, it’s the atmosphere of a coffee shop – the smell of the coffee brewing, the sound of cups and tea spoons clattering and the crowds of dapper and intelligent academics sat around discussing literature and art all around you… or at least, so you think. From what I’ve seen, everyone thinks this is the case so everyone turns up expecting to become part of this stylish crowd of super swots from the planet of book-smart sex gods so suddenly the coffee shop becomes jam-packed with anyone and everyone then your paradise of poetry becomes little more than a pretentious service station. I don’t hold some sort of elitist grudge against people entering a coffee shop if they don’t intend to mention at least one classical composer but my point is that if everyone goes to a coffee shop to feel like sophisticated somebodies then they’re not, they are just buying in on a fad. Irony fucks in the arse here as well, because the main customers of coffee shops are liberal-thinking students who hate big establishments, yet discuss their loathing of international monopolies whilst sat in Starbucks – somewhere on the same spectrum as discussing your hatred of racism with your mates from the EDL.
I guess a coffee shop is a nice place to stop off for a warm drink and a social gathering with friends, but it isn’t one in itself to be honest, not for me, and if you really want that kind of atmosphere that badly then invite your friends over and put the kettle on. You run your own cafes, all of you, it’s called your home – you’re the boss of the menu, the drinks, the music and the seating arrangements. A coffee shop is a pleasant, if pricey, pit-stop for a chat or a nice venue for a cosy little meeting between two people who aren’t on fully friendly terms yet but don’t mistake it for a place to form your day plan around – you probably don’t have the money to keep forking out on it and if you do, you’d get more for it buying a tin of biscuits and a packet of teabags to go home with.