Whether you’re the kind of person that feels alive when in the midst of chaos or feel more at ease alone in silence, we all seem to delight in the experience of entering a coffee house and ordering a speciality, customised drink, finding just the right seat – not too high, not too low, yes that will do nicely! picking up a book or a pad, and passing away several precious moments alone or in the company of friends.The simple process of removing yourself from your usual environment and into a coffee house is therapeutic and somewhat addictive. But imagine the feeling if you were denied extra hot water to accompany your hot beverage?
In 1998 Starbucks (Seattle Coffee Company) entered the UK with the opening of not just one but 65 coffee shops. Of course this was all initially most exciting and somewhat bewildering to us Brits as we were suddenly confronted with a vast choice of weird and wonderful beverages. From English tea and just one type of coffee – black or white, to a variety of herbal and fruit teas, coffees in all shapes, sizes and colours and, what on earth is a “frappacino”? But Starbucks grew and grew, saturating the market just like a Gremlin having been offered food and water after midnight. So I took my custom elsewhere. Besides, I am not a fan of supporting monopolies, but a fan and supporter of the underdog.
So Costa, here I come! For years I gladly offered my Sterling to our own homegrown Costa Coffee. I spent many hours enjoying the ambience of their decor, wall art and music. However, all good things seem to often come to an end. Costa, founded in 1971 is now the second largest coffee house behind Starbucks. Over the years I had noticed their sandwiches were getting smaller and drier, yet prices were still rising. You can’t escape from Costa’s anymore, they’re in hospitals, petrol stations and airports. It’s always good to see the underdog able to compete with the giants but why does growth always come with greed?
On a recent visit to our newly opened and very local costa in Cambridge I was totally disappointed in their new system of offering my green tea. They have removed the tea bag and replaced it with loose leaves placed in a strainer with a lid. Personally, I like my tea to brew, so I poured the leaves in the little white pot of hot water. I do not like my tea too strong so I went to the smiley lady behind the counter and asked for my pot to be topped up. My request, however, was denied. When I questioned their reasoning behind such a disgraceful ban of water, I was informed that the purpose was to prevent customers from buying one drink and making it last! Oh dear! An almighty disgrace!
I have to admit to my insistence and pigheadedness, and did not stand down until I finally received a dribble of hot water. I feel it’s a disgrace when establishments’ main concern is profit over customer satisfaction. I love to take my green teas, black with no sugar. However, I am categoric that if costa do not sort out their petty ways soon I will have no alternative but to follow suit and to help myself to unwanted sugar and milk..