Coffee Chains Are Charmless, Grubby Hell Holes

Don't believe the dream 'Friends' sold you, ten a penny coffee chains aren't places of warmth, friendship and joy, they're crap.
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Café culture has passed me by. I should love it. Growing up watching ‘Friends’, I wanted to be sat in ‘Central Perk’ with Ross and Rachel, laughing politely at another one of Chandler’s one liners while an adoring audience guffawed at my every utterance.  Instead, I walk past these numerous, glass fronted, soulless, coffee shop chains and question the sanity of the customers inside quaffing fair trade coffee, while pretending they’re too sophisticated to make their own beverage at home and stick it in a thermos.

Step into any one of these hell holes and the thin veneer of sophistication quickly drops as you realise you’re never sat less than five feet away from the toilet and the witty banter you’re desperately trying to engage in is being drowned out by the pneumatic drill they apparently use as a milk frother.  How can you relax in a place that almost requires the use of protective ear wear?

The only reason you’ve crossed the threshold of the premises is the tempting allure of the comfy sofas you’ve seen through the window as you traipse past with double your own body weight in shopping bags. Of course, what you don’t know is that they have a sum total of three sofas, all occupied by smug bookish types who have appeared to have formed a synthesis with their chosen armchair that not even a weighty crowbar could separate.

The endless amounts of caffeine and high calorie snacks sees you gaining a stone and has you arriving at the shop ashen faced and shaking from withdrawals in need of your next fix

Once inside, it’s too late to save yourself.  The aroma of freshly ground coffee has gained control of your synapses, refusing to allow your feet to carry you safely to the nearest exit.  Waiting to be served you find yourself staring in utter bewilderment at the menu, littered with enough foreign words to look sophisticated, yet making you a laughing stock the first time you attempt to say ‘macchiato’.

Order placed, you will then sit reeling from the fact the barista (I’ll explain those in a moment) has taken almost a days wages from you and now find yourself parked in the most uncomfortable seat known to man.  At this point it’s time to kid yourself that you’re relaxing in this pit of confusion and despair, when really you’re about to ingest enough sugar and caffeine to ensure that relaxation is now put on permanent hold until you slip into the inevitable diabetic coma from one too many slices of millionaire shortbread.

It’s helpful to assume at this point that barista’s are trained for this type of medical emergency or your soaring heart rate from the triple espresso could bring on a panic attack.  Even the use of the Italian name for bartender “barista” has a touch of upscale aspiration to it.  Your can almost convince yourself that it’s an actual barrister serving you coffee. “THAT’S how sophisticated I am. A trained legal professional has taken time away from ensuring justice is upheld to serve me coffee and cake.”  This would at least go some way to explaining the prices.

After all this you would think that once you’ve experienced this untenable horror you’d vow never to return. But no, the barista has one final trick up their sleeve. Clearly recruited for the purpose, ALL coffee shop staff MUST be alluring yet ultimately unattainable.  This ensures you return time and time again for more of the same in order to stalk attract the attention of your lust object.  This in itself is fruitless as the endless amounts of caffeine and high calorie snacks sees you gaining a stone and has you arriving at the shop ashen faced and shaking from withdrawals in need of your next fix. Attractive.

So thanks ‘Friends’ for bringing us this hellish ‘café culture’.  Having a coffee bears no resemblance to those images you’ve systematically peddled us over the last fifteen years. You made us dream of a place with comfort, friends, warmth and joy. Instead we got noisy, cramped, slightly grubby coffee shops with not even a glimpse of humanity.

Next time someone asks you out for coffee, do the right thing and tell them to fuck off.  They’ll thank you in the end.

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