In the whole entire world I enjoy nothing more than the simple notion of “going for coffee”, you may even say I find the experience positively exciting. However sad this may sound, I have come to realise how vital Tea Rooms and Coffee Shops are in society…well, my society anyway.
With the endless choice of drinks available, the obscure concoctions that these talented barista magicians conjure up amazes me. Able to cope under the pressure from demanding business-folk to screaming, petulant babies and toddlers day in day out, they still manage to provide us with a life saving service. These buildings could be a place of sanctuary for a stressed out mum with too much shopping to carry or a place for a quick breakfast croissant for a businessman on the run.
Being the considerate person that I am, the only quirk that I have in my coffee order would be the use skimmed milk and only a small sprinkling of chocolate; just a delicate shake of cocoa to top my “skinny cap”, please. However, whilst enjoying my warm beverage in peace, I can’t help but overhear some rather complex drink orders. For example, a tall, soy Mocha with a sugar-free caramel shot, no foam, extra steam with no cream. Ok, perhaps that’s slightly exaggerated but these people do exist! They seem to always “take out” and to always be in a rush. If you’re ordering in such a panic, why not just have a normal Americano? Or perhaps a cup of tea? Would this not be quicker?
Personally I enjoy “drinking in”, absorbing the atmosphere of my surroundings either alone or in company. I find myself in an almost hypnotic state, watching the world and spooning the foamy goodness from my cup. While I scrape the tasty, cocoa showered milk residue with my teaspoon I have time to deliberate over a personal predicaments, current affairs and political world issues, such as “how can I prolong this experience? I’m enjoying myself far too much, is this wrong? Discuss”. Intense people watching helps delay the drinking time and I sometimes find myself rudely listening in on the drifting conversations amongst the clinking of china and roar of the steaming milk process.
Tea rooms and coffee shops provide a setting for many topics of conversation. Ranging from business meetings, friends reuniting, a quick catch up, political discussions, a much needed gossip, a first date or maybe even a break up, I believe these locations hold many secrets. Imagine if the walls had ears! They enable human beings to communicate in a social yet efficient way. By doing something “over coffee” the content of the subject being discussed, serious or not, appears more approachable and in a way less daunting.
Referring back to these picky orderers, you can also tell a lot about someone from what they drink. Order a fruit smoothie or a milkshake at a informal interview with your potential boss maybe isn’t the most sophisticated bevvy. But order a luxury hot chocolate, super-grande in size with all the calorific trimmings and extra cream when your boyfriend is explaining why it’s him that’s the problem in this relationship, not you, because you’re great, may be slightly awkward. The amount of time it takes to consume the extra whipped cream, six-hundred mini-marshmallows and two chocolate flakes may hinder your quick getaway before you burst into tears. On the contrary, the lingering taste of silky chocolate would do a great job of helping drown your sorrows.
Despite my love for cosmopolitan coffee addicts, there is nothing more endearing than a pot of tea for one in an old fashioned tea room. These little treasure coves nearly always house small, old couples drinking English Breakfast, Goldblend or maybe even a green tea whilst they butter a toasted teacake or smother clotted cream on a freshly baked strawberry jam scone. I find the Tea Room atmosphere much calmer; a place to sit quietly whilst holding a civil conversation. Even though I do love the hustle and bustle of a Coffee Shop, I tend to find contentment in a Tea Room, depending on my mood of course.I find that these places are a much more inviting place for a spot of light-lunch as opposed to the pre-packed falafel organic gluten-free mixed bean wraps found in a Coffee House. The magical baristas seem to have transformed into young, polite waitresses ready to bring you extra hot water if your pot of tea gets luke-warm.
With my growing admiration for the wizards that are the staff in said establishments and for my sheer wonderment of the customers , I will continue to enjoy my “me-time” whilst sipping on a warm mug of steaming heaven. A time of personal reflection or a simple form of escapism, hopefully someone else may share my enthusiasm about one of life’s most simple pleasures.