Monday, 5 February 2018

Breaking News: I Drink Too Much Tea...

It's been a funny old week in the breaking news department. Hidden within the usual litany of grim crimes and political folly, some truly disastrous world events have been reported. GLOBAL CHICKPEA SHORTAGE screamed the headlines last Monday. Forget nuclear war or global warming, THIS is catastrophic. Not three months after Weight Watchers declared chickpeas a zero point food, world stocks have plummeted. The future of the chickpea is precarious. Damn those millennials and their incessant need for hummus. It's enough to make you reach for the crisps. Then if that wasn't enough, another story quietly emerged. One that, on top of the recent chickpea revelations, had me rocking in a corner. Have We Reached Peak Costa Coffee? the papers reported. 'Nooooooo,' I yelled into the void - both in answer to the question as well as with deep existential despair.

Read the article by all means but let me fully respond to the query posed in the headline. It's a no. No we have not. Not at all. We have not reached peak Costa Coffee and we never will. Costa is my safe place. It's my familiar friend in an unknown town. It's my floating high street office. I will not tolerate it being maligned.

Prior to 2011, I don't think I'd ever been in a Costa. Mostly because I had a full time job and my downtime was spent sleeping. I'd heard of the brand of course, but I'd also heard of its competitors in equal measure. As I had no time to bother a Starbucks or a Cafe Nero either, all coffee shops remained unpatronised. But then times changed. All at once, a bunch of circumstances altered my drink needs for good. I started writing at home, I felt the need to get out and see daylight once in a while, and I quickly tired of making my own drinks. (One-cup-of-tea-a-day as a teacher, jumped to thirty-six-cups-of-tea-a-day as a writer.) It was time to find myself a coffee shop.

Not all teabags
are created equal.
As usual, Tina speaks for
me (although I don't have
a gold sparkly dress.)
I am not here to slag off companies and get myself sued. So I won't. All I know is that not all teabags taste the same and some colour schemes create a more relaxing environment than others. And if there's no skimmed milk then don't even bother. THERE. IT'S DONE. I'VE SAID MY PIECE. So having forced my hand with their better business choices, I went to a Costa with my laptop. And before you all shout at me for ignoring hard working, independent coffee-shop owners, I know. I get it. They are marvellous. But at no point did I want to be anything other than anonymous. I didn't want to get to know strangers or say hi and make convo whist waiting for change. I had no interest in being remembered from visit to visit. Sitting in a corner, blending in and cracking on, were my sole aims. When I have all the time in the world and am being social, I'm there. But not for work. For that, I needed a chain. I needed my place.

Look. I'm
drinking tea!
I'm drinking
tea again. Larks!
And I found it. I found my place. Fast-forward seven years and I'm always in a Costa. In the past week (and it's been a fairly routine one) I've been to three separate branches on three separate days. I have six that I use regularly. All of them have different vibes, all of them give me a different experience. The one on the corner with three walls of windows, is my place for writing happy chapters. The one with the back room and the low lights, is my place for writing emotion and brooding drama. The one with the room upstairs, is my place for writing stuff that makes me laugh out loud. They all have their moods and they all contribute to mine. 

So, reading that Costa may have had its day feels like a threat to my own existence. What will I do if they start closing? Well, let's just chill out and calm ourselves for a moment. They haven't made as many millions last year as the year before. I think they'll cope. And now it's been announced that Coronation Street will be featuring its very own branch in a product placement deal. My lovely surrogate office has moved into the big leagues now. It's exactly like Diet Coke and Apple. It'll be sponsoring the Super Bowl next. There'll be dancing baristas with giant jammy dodgers being thrown into the crowd. Fair play, Costa. I only hope you still find room for my 'one drink per hour and a half' consumption rate now you're all over Weatherfield. Don't let fame change you. Not when I've loved you all these years. 

It will all be fine. There's no peak just yet. And now I've got that off my chest, I need to get myself a cup of tea. And stockpile the chickpeas, obviously.

Have a lovely week, folks.

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