/ Food & Drink

Your view: is the coffee shop craze here to stay?

Making coffee

UK Coffee Week inspired a lively discussion about the nation’s favourite bean. But, with tea and coffee running neck-and-neck in our poll, is coffee really as popular as the chains would have us believe?

Our Senior Home Researcher Anna Norman is a self-confessed coffee fiend, but when she posed the question ‘are we a nation of coffee addicts’ the response was mixed.

Anna admits she is partly drawn to coffee due to its sophisticated and cultural image, created by the likes of Gold Blend ads and aficionados like Jack Kerouac. But Matt N takes the opposite view:

‘Somehow tea culture seems more in keeping with Englishness – it’s a bit quirky, it’s down-to-earth. Coffee culture seems somehow a little lacking in humour, far more French or Italian than it is English and, at its worst, a little pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends drink coffee, but for me we’ll always be a nation of tea addicts.’

And so far our poll is revealing that, while coffee is the drink of choice for many, tea can give it a run for its money – both currently have 73% of people voting for them.

Coffee shop craze

Many of you had something to say about the growing trend for coffee shops, too – and it wasn’t always good. NFH could easily live without them:

‘I would much rather go to the pub than these coffee chains with their overpriced drinks that don’t even appeal to me. The French have got it right; their cafés cater equally for coffee drinkers and alcohol drinkers as well as proper food.’

Par alliers isn’t a fan either:

‘Starbucks is for people who like the idea of coffee but not its real taste. What on earth is a tall, skinny latte other than a mildly coffee flavoured, hot milk-shake?’

But Dusty Fanthorpe, who gets our Comment of the Week, has her own reasons for enjoying coffee shops:

‘As a woman, the growth of coffee shops that offer comfortable safe places to meet with one’s friends has been a real plus for me. Not only do some offer good social spaces but also a place to study, draw and relax. I would always choose a coffee house over a pub to meet friends in and certainly find much more congenial on my own. Hurrah for coffee shops.’

Choosing a fairer cup

Some of you also raised the issue of cost – and questioned where all the profits end up, like Richard Norman:

‘Has Starbucks started paying its taxes yet? And how much of what we pay actually goes to the primary producers – the coffee farmers? Whenever you go into a coffee shop, insist on Fairtrade!’

Darren Tagget agrees, and points out that certain producers hold a monopoly:

‘The major roasters – like Nestle and Kraft – have something of a monopoly over the “mainstream” market, despite the fact that coffee experts widely agree they make poor quality coffee, relying on savvy marketing for their dominance.

‘Let’s hope […] people may start to associate good coffee with origin, rather than the mainstream roasters’ blends, thereby shifting where the value is to the farmers (rather than the roasters).’

Is your cup always Fairtrade, or are you more interested in the taste? Are coffee shops a craze you buy into or firmly avoid? And, if tea is your tipple of choice make sure you vote in our poll below.

Which of these hot drinks do you like (multiple choice)?

Tea (24%, 809 Votes)

Coffee (24%, 801 Votes)

Hot chocolate (16%, 556 Votes)

Mulled wine (8%, 270 Votes)

Herbal tea (8%, 267 Votes)

Malted milk (eg Horlicks, Ovaltine) (7%, 246 Votes)

Bovril (5%, 180 Votes)

Hot toddy (4%, 125 Votes)

Mulled cider (2%, 74 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (1%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,084

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I can identify most with the comment made by NFH (though not with the suggestion that tomato juice might be a better alternative, in NFH’s original post).

Some pubs do serve coffee, but it’s not usually very good. Pubs have adapted to market demand, many focusing on food rather than alcohol and are often quite nice places, helped by the smoking ban. Many pubs are struggling, but if they can attract trade from the likes of Starbucks, that might be a welcome move.

Thankfully, there is not a huge demand for alcohol during the day, so here is an opportunity for pubs to help educate us about the wonderful world of coffee, without charging silly prices.

As someone who cannot (and does not want to) drink a lot of alcohol , a coffee shop is much better . Ok it is not cheap but neither are non alcoholic drinks in a pub. If I go to a pub, I often feel left out as others are drinking more. Coke and orange juice for 3 hours are tedious . Also i can sit and read a book over a coffee on my own without looking odd.

Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose:

“Once our beer was frothy
but now its frothy coffee… well
Fings ain’t what they used t’be..”

Lionel Bart.