Have we had our fill of coffee?

Another (retail) shop on my local high street is closing. The plan is to convert it into a branded coffee shop outlet. I live in a small ‘town’ in the Borough of Lewisham, and I can already count at least 12 coffee/sandwich shops, and that’s not including pubs and restaurants also offering coffee during the day.

Are we really turning into a nation of constant caffeine imbibers and snackers? Can all these places really survive? Have we reached saturation point?

Don’t get me wrong, I remember a time not THAT long ago that a customer came into the coffee/pastry shop my wife was working in (as a student) to return the ground coffee they had bought because “it makes terrible coffee” - it turns out they treated it like instant, because ‘that’s how coffee is made’

Are we doomed to see good ideas replicated to the point we become unaware of them (e.g. Boots) or sick of them (viz Byron Burger*)?

Sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much! #KeepWineSpecial

(* I realise that the underlying business is doing well, but we don’t love them enough to fill every single one of the copies they decide to open all over the place, especially as all their competitors do the same)


Bob, read Caitlin Moran on coffee shops in Times mag. (probably retrievable on-line) last Saturday. Very droll

Any month now we’ll reach Peak Coffee.

Thing is, it’s a tidy business model because compared to, say, pints of beer, the retail markup is phenomenal.

I’m only amazed because the majority of ones I’ve been to serve awful coffee for crazy prices. First thing I did when moving into my house was buy a fancy machine, and a subscription to Pact. Much better - plus I can drink it in my pants.


I also have Pact subscription and can only recommend it. I use an aeropress that costs around £13 and makes great tasting coffee (from the right raw material). I also frequent a small local coffee shop ran by a family (the coffee is good… very good).


Ooh, good question! I’m definitely sick of so many chain coffee shops, but quite like the range of indie coffee shops, especially as they tend to have their own priorities (some are about the look/atmosphere, some are about community, some are about the finest coffee, etc). That said, you can have too much of a good thing, and it is sad to see high streets dominated by coffee shops over indie shops. The death of the high street is a separate, very sad issue…

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Hi everyone, have a read of this.

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One of the problems with all these artisan type coffee shops is that, really, far too many of them in fact serve awful lukewarm and at best mediocre coffee! Maybe there is a “natural wine” type thing going on with some of these establishments who, believe that if the coffee comes from organically grown beans carried in the mouths of orphaned and biafran Uruguan donkeys across treacherous mountains the it must taste good. :roll_eyes:
I have a decent coffee machine at home and loathe to pay the prices for a “skinny” latte, when theyre going to serve me full fat milk anyway…:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The Oddbins in Clifton Village (the posh bit of Bristol) has a sign joking that they are the only place round here that doesn’t sell coffee! Mind you really good coffee is a fine thing!


Whenever I see wine recommendations in, for example, the weekend papers, I’m always surprised how many on-line wine merchants there are, most of them unknown to me.

£3 spent on coffee is £3 not spent on wine…


In this case with the coffee and wine…the market will decide

I don’t mind the increased amount of coffee shops too much but am more upset about the fact that as the focus is so much on hot drinks of the bean variety there’s rarely anywhere that does a decent cuppa!


Good coffee is like good wine - (see https://colonnacoffee.com). Bad coffee is like cheap wine.
Coffee chains generally serve over roasted hence bitter coffee (the stuff the Italians and French like). As a result to cover up the bitterness most people add milk or sugar. Once you discover “proper” coffee, roasted with care and passion, and served simply (i.e. black) then the flavour profiles you can get from coffee are varied but not as varied as you find in wine. And by cutting out milk and/or sugar you cut down the calories and you can drink more wine. :joy:


I will risk sounding stupid, which is just as well as I am stupid, but sugar for me changes the flavour, while milk just mellows the flavour and gives a richer mouth feel. I do secretly use butter in my coffee from time to time for this reason. so while cutting out sugar was easy, giving up some kind of dairy would be difficult.

Besides what I said above I also use instant, because at times I need zero fuss, but I have done my research and try and stick to one where I know will be right. At this point in time this is a very specific jar from Clipper.

Perhaps the question should be ‘have we had our fill of bad coffee’? To which the answer is an emphatic - YES!

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Yep agreed Leah - I am also befuddled by the quantity of coffee shops that serve poor coffee - the simplest measure is the time it takes to make the coffee - we should be talking a minute and a half all told for the grinding, tamping, loading & pull + milk unless the barista is hugely talented - they usually bang it out well under a minute in many places and the coffee suffers accordingly.

I just use a French press and get my coffee ground fresh from decent suppliers. Can’t abide instant but maybe that’s just personal taste.

I assume the plethora of coffee shops is a reflection of the fact that its one of the few things left you can’t order over the internet.

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Yes but that’s just habit. If you go black you have to unlearn your old habit and learn a new one.
We learn how to drink tea/ coffee from our parents/ friends etc. The question is how?

I don’t drink instant coffee - so can’t really comment. However if I do have a flat white - no sugar - it’s way sweeter than black as milk has sugars in it too. And yes it does mellow the bitterness. However if you add sugar to “properly” roasted coffee then it destroys the flavour. It’s a bit like some rich folk who don’t like the taste of 1st growth clarets so they mix it with coke.

My general point is that coffee culture is developing in the same manner now that wine culture has. So from different countries, growing the same coffee we get different flavours - just like wine. How coffee is processed, roasted, the water that’s used, how it’s made (filter, expresso, V60, aeropress) all affect its flavour.

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Red Wine and … Cola?

Totally agree. I’ve rather gone off coffee (though I used to drink a lot - outside the house), but for a ‘Nation of Tea Drinkers’ it is virtually impossible to find a good brew anywhere other than some restaurants.

Does anyone know where one get’s a decent cup of tea if that is all you want?

Where have all the tea-shop(pe)s gone? Have they all retired to the British sea-side?

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