SOPHIA MONEY- COUTTS MOD­ERN MAN­NERS Crazy cof­fee has got me all in a froth

Crème brûlée latte, any­one? Or how about a Black For­est hot cho­co­late? Ex­cuse me while I espresso my gravest doubts

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

When I worked for An­other News­pa­per, as au­tumn ap­proached we used to have an an­nual com­pe­ti­tion to see which colum­nist would first de­ploy the Keats line “sea­son of mists and mel­low fruit­ful­ness”. Some­one al­ways did, usu­ally in a piece about the hum­ble joy of the conker. Keats was a har­bin­ger of the sea­sonal shift, much like dark­en­ing af­ter­noons – and nov­elty cof­fees.

That’s right, nov­elty cof­fees. Star­bucks kicks things off early in au­tumn with its pump­kin spiced latte (or “PSL” as I once heard a mil­len­nial call it), but this week my eye fell on an es­pe­cially de­press­ing Costa ad­vert.

“I’m wish­ing for more rea­sons to be merry,” said the tag-line, next to a pho­to­graph of four Costa cof­fees – a win­ter roast cap­puc­cino, a hazel­nut pra­line latte, a Black For­est hot cho­co­late and some­thing called a shim­mer cor­tado, which is a cof­fee sprin­kled with glit­ter. A per­turbed gy­nae­col­o­gist re­cently felt the need to warn women against sprin­kling glit­ter on their del­i­cate bits this fes­tive sea­son, and al­though not a doc­tor I’m go­ing to sug­gest that swal­low­ing it isn’t much bet­ter. Al­though it does bring a whole new mean­ing to the ex­pres­sion “you can’t pol­ish a turd”.

Sorry! Back to th­ese cof­fees. The Costa drinks didn’t make me feel merry at all, al­though we can­not blame Costa alone for its at­tack of in­fan­til­ism. Last week, Star­bucks launched its Christ­mas menu. It in­cludes a crème brûlée latte, a salted caramel brownie hot cho­co­late and a mys­te­ri­ous cold drink called a yule log to be un­veiled in December. For­give me if I’m not queu­ing up on the first day of Ad­vent.

Over at Caffè Nero, you can slurp on a caramelised al­mond brit­tle latte, if you don’t die of old age be­fore you fin­ish or­der­ing it. Mcdon­ald’s has also joined in with a mil­lion­aire’s latte – pre­sum­ably float­ing with bits of soggy short­bread, driz­zled with caramel.

What I ob­ject to isn’t the sugar con­tent or the calo­ries of th­ese gloopy cups. Head­lines of­ten scream that there’s more fat in a venti-mocha­triple-junkie-uni­corn-latte than 12 Big Macs. The sub­text is “Stop drink­ing them, you fat­ties”, which is pa­tro­n­is­ing and nanny-ish. If I ever found my­self in Costa with the man I loved, and he coyly or­dered a win­ter roast cap­puc­cino, I’d pos­si­bly think twice about hav­ing chil­dren with him. But it’s on the menu, so he has every right.

In­stead, it’s our fetishi­sa­tion of cof­fee that I mind. The turn­ing of some­thing sim­ple into some­thing so silly. It’s as if the var­i­ous other plea­sures th­ese days have be­come so frowned upon that we have to get our kicks from in­creas­ingly des­per­ate sources. Al­co­hol? Ter­ri­bly bad for the liver, you should only have a thim­ble­ful a week. Red meat? Makes the planet hot. A bowl of pasta? Pasta is gluten, you lu­natic! But a big vat of cof­fee with a baby­ish name, dusted with glit­ter? Let me at it!

I imag­ine they’re drunk by the same peo­ple who re­fer to hav­ing a crois­sant for break­fast as “naughty”. It makes me sad. Sad for cof­fee, sad for mankind and per­haps most of all, sad for the sea­son of mists and mel­low fruit­ful­ness.

A

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