Café culture has become incredibly popular in the last twenty years. In university towns you can barely move for internet-enabled, sandwich-serving places for students to sit in for hours on end, heads bent over a particularly nasty equation or essay, making a single cup of filter coffee last the entire day.
I spend so much time in cafes, both alone and with friends, that I’ve started to notice trends amongst coffee drinkers.
Here’s my rundown of what your Starbucks order says about you…
One thing they always say about you, you know your beans. Through the sweat of your brow and at the expense of your personal finances, you’ve developed a taste for coffee so refined that you’re constrained to drinking only the very best blends and roasts.
You’re a walking encyclopedia of trendy cafés and the first thing you do on moving to a new city is get yourself acquainted with the coffee scene; your friends come to you for advice on where to go for first dates, second dates, middle dates, breakups, tearful reunions, and, should the occasion arise, revelations about pregnancy. You’ve got a specific place in mind for each of these situations.
The thing that annoys you about espressos is the very thing that you most love: their potency.
A strong coffee means a short coffee.
Cappuccino drinkers can sit for hours working on their screenplays, hashing out complex plots and focussing on characterisation and motifs; but you only ever manage to bash out a couple of lines of dialogue before you’ve drained your cup and started getting the evil eye from the proprietors. Until you can figure out how to make a 40g drink last you more than establishing shots, your genre-defining oeuvre is sadly under-worked.
The taste of coffee doesn’t actually do a lot for you – you just like the event. Similarly, you don’t really get the appeal of alcohol but you’ll have a glass or two of rosé when you go to a bar with your mates. If all pubs and cafés evaporated overnight, the only thing you’d miss would be the moments spent with friends; you’d just as happily sit in someone’s living room with a mug of tepid water.
Consequently, you never drink coffee when you’re not in a caf with the gang, and you’d never have more than two a day or get one after three o’clock; at home you prefer green tea. You might add a slice of lemon if you’re feeling particularly outrageous.
You’re basically the same as an espresso drinker, but with less commitment and specialised knowledge. You’d rather not go Costa but you would if there were no other options within walking distance.
Also, your screenplay is more developed since each of your coffees lasts three times as long as an espresso.
You’re after quantity, not quality, in coffee as in everything. You buy your rice in 20kg sacks from the Chinese supermarket and your freezer is full of shit you don’t really like but bought in bulk because it was on offer. You’d much rather a Toby Carvery-style Sunday roast that clocks in at over three times your recommended saturated fat intake than a 500-calorie one from a well-rated country pub. You buy your notebooks from the indoor market and judge people for wasting money on stationery from Paperchase. You steal sugar packets.
Your favourite cafés are the kinds where they offer free refills and no one looks at you weirdly when you help yourself to your sixth steaming mug of joe.
You’ve tried other iterations of coffee before, just to see what’s out there, but every kind, whether it’s been jazzed up with milk or expensive syrups, has the same basic taste to you – the taste of costing more than it’s worth.
Fuck the haters.
You know what makes you happy and you pursue it, even if it separates you from the It crowd. People might raise their eyebrows when you order a tall glass of chocolate and pay through the nose for marshmallows, but it’s worth it for how goddamn tasty stuff covered in whipped cream is.
Cafe etiquette aside, you’re a home bird. You prefer nights in to nights out and you’re secure in yourself to be unashamed about that; your friends have come to accept that you might not come to the pub because you’ve got your cosy socks on. The only time you ever questioned your choices was when, exhausted from a long day of tending to your pot plant, you fell asleep in front of the Great British Sewing Bee.
You appreciate the finer things in life, but you’re unpretentious about it. In other words, you can taste the difference between the £7 bottle of wine with an actual cork and the unlabeled £2.99 carton, but you don’t make me feel bad for bringing the latter to your dinner party.
Basically, you think being too alert is risky. You’ve observed the way your friends get all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a coffee, and you mistrust this. If God had wanted us to feel awake, you think to yourself, He wouldn’t have made mornings so rough.
Your palate is so refined that you can identify tea brands blindfolded; you frequently do so at parties to the dubious approval of friends. You think green/herbal/decaf tea is not just a waste of time, but also somehow fundamentally harmful to the very fabric of British society.