Cof­fee snobs get a rude awak­en­ing

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Cover Story - SOPHIA MONEY- COUTTS

Itell you what you prob­a­bly don’t worry about enough and that’s how posh your cof­fee is. You’re labour­ing un­der the idea that cof­fee is the blame­less, milky drink you have at elevenses each day, hope­fully ac­com­pa­nied by a ginger nut, aren’t you? Ha. Not so. Cof­fee, these days, is a big so­cial sig­ni­fier. Wit­ness, for ex­am­ple, the rows that broke out this week when Waitrose stopped giv­ing free cof­fees to those in pos­ses­sion of a myWaitrose card. Only cus­tomers who ac­tu­ally bought some­thing from Waitrose could claim their free latte, the chain de­clared. Scenes. Such scenes in places like Esher and Chel­tenham. Cus­tomers livid at the thought that they’d have to buy an­other packet of pine nuts to get their hot drink. Too bad. Waitrose has spo­ken. Now that av­enue of plea­sure is closed off and shop­pers must find a new way to feel su­pe­rior about their cof­fee. But if you’re one of these mourn­ful myWaitrose card­hold­ers, stay calm. There is a wealth of cof­fee op­tions out there so you don’t have to feel em­bar­rassed. First off, you could buy a Ne­spresso ma­chine. The ma­chines that come with lit­tle cof­fee pods that look like those car­tons of UHT milk you get on trains. Then you can be­come the sort of per­son who bangs on at din­ner par­ties about why you pre­fer the pur­ple “Ar­peg­gio” cof­fee pods to the red ones, which al­ways con­fuses me be­cause I thought arpeg­gios were some­thing to do with mu­sic. They’re quite posh, Ne­spresso ma­chines, al­though slightly let down by the fact that Ge­orge Clooney won’t stop talk­ing about how much he loves them. An Amer­i­can, try­ing to sell us cof­fee! What a good laugh.

Al­ter­na­tively, you could buy pack­ets of ground cof­fee, which my par­ents do, and row about how much to put in the cafetiere and then row about whether you should then put the grounds down the sink or in the bin. A row is al­ways ter­rific fun early in the morn­ing. But it’s quite posh be­cause it feels ex­otic, doesn’t it, tap­ping out fresh cof­fee from a bag into a plunger? Some peo­ple then use those milk frothers from Lake­land but, I mean, come on. This is a cup of cof­fee. Not MasterChef. Then there are those funny lit­tle metal pots which look like mini ket­tles which peo­ple put on their stove. Es­presso pots, Google calls them. I didn’t study en­gi­neer­ing at univer­sity so I have no idea how they work, but it looks like a lot of work to me. They’re per­haps a frac­tion too Ital­ian to be re­ally posh. Un­less you have a but­ler in which case make him faff around with the fil­ter pa­pers. I, slightly em­bar­rass­ingly, have re­cently taken to grind­ing my own beans and then us­ing a plunger. But in my de­fence, it’s only be­cause I was given some ex­pen­sive cof­fee beans from Hawaii and sub­se­quently bought a cof­fee grinder (dead cheap, £7 or some­thing) from Ama­zon. And it is de­li­cious, even though mak­ing cof­fee this way makes me feel like I should be liv­ing in trendy East Lon­don, wan­der­ing about dressed like a scare­crow. My late grand­mother, quite the grand­est per­son I knew, would only drink Nescafé. A wartime thing. So I still think of that as quite posh, even though she would gen­er­ally have a cup of in­stant, then spy some sort of food mat­ter loi­ter­ing on my cheek, take a tis­sue from her bag, lick said tis­sue and rub it into my face. I smelt of Nescafé for the en­tirety of my child­hood. The ul­ti­mate cup of cof­fee may sur­prise you. I quizzed a cof­fee snob called Nick about this last week­end, and he said you must only buy beans or grounds that have been roasted just two days be­fore, then use them within a month. “But,” he added, “I have to say if you’re re­ally stuck, McDon­ald’s cof­fee isn’t half bad.” Bet­ter, Nick reck­oned, than all the high-street cof­fee chains. So there you have it myWaitrose shop­pers.

Sophia Money-Coutts is Fea­tures Direc­tor of Tatler

Mr Ge­orge Clooney: what do Amer­i­cans know about cof­fee?

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