Lots of choice

coffee

Back in 2010 I wrote a blog post about when I went out for coffee in Weston-super-Mare I went to Druckers, as it wasn’t just about the coffee, but about the whole coffee drinking experience.

Then there was very little choice in the town for drinking coffee, quite a few tearooms who did some nice tea, but no real coffee places.

Today the landscape is very different. There are the major chains of Costa, Coffee #1, Caffe Nero as well as a plethora of independent coffee places too. We have a much greater choice. There are now four branches of Costa in the town for example. We still don’t have a Starbucks, but as I don’t like the coffee there, I am okay with that.

Since I last wrote Druckers has shrunk considerably. The owners of the Sovereign Centre wanted to create a new eating experience, with multiple food outlets and a shared eating space. Alas the reality is that all there is, is Druckers. So what was an okay place for a coffee and cake, is now more like the inside of a fish and chip shop, but with stools and benches. Not a place for coffee.

My first choice is Coffee #1, though I prefer the coffee in Caffe Nero, the service always appears rushed and it’s popular, so not always a lot of space available.

From an independent perspective, I do like the new(ish) coffee place in the Waterstones in the Sovereign Centre.

The Cortado

Back in 2009 I was in New Zealand for a conference and was introduced to the Flat White.

According to Wikipedia:

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, a Flat White is a coffee beverage prepared by pouring steamed milk from the bottom of steaming pitcher over a single shot or double shot of espresso. As with many other espresso-based drinks the Flat White is interpreted in a number of ways. In Australia it is commonly served as a single shot of espresso, whereas in New Zealand it is more commonly served using a double shot.

Back in 2010 I started to notice that many coffee places, including the major chains were now selling the Flat White. I said back then

I have had it a few times now in the UK, from Costas and Starbucks and though nice, it’s not quite the same as a Flat White from New Zealand.

Having been a while since I was in New Zealand I have lost track of the true flat white experience.

Meeting up with Thom from New Zealand at a recent conference he confirmed that the Costa version of the Flat White was lacking, it was too big and wasn’t strong enough. When he tried to order a “proper” flat white, smaller cup, another shot, the barista couldn’t quite understand what he wanted, but did recommend the Cortado.

Cortado #altc #coffee #photo365

The Cortado originates from Spanish speaking countries and the word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut).

The Costa version of the Cortado is not quite what a classic Cortado should be, but as a result is more like a Flat White from New Zealand.

Not sure if putting the drink in a glass adds anything, I would much prefer a cup, but despite that I did enjoy the coffee and would certainly order it again.

Flat White

Ever since visiting New Zealand I have had a fondness for the Flat White. It can be challenging to find a decent Flat White in the UK, despite the widespread adoption by coffee chains of the Flat White; unless the barista knows what they are doing, you may think you are getting a flat white, but you get a disappointing cappuccino instead.

Drinking coffee #366photosI was pleased the other day to order a Flat White in my local Costa and I got a really good Flat White, perfect.

The coffee was good, the milk was steamed to the right creamy consistency and even the pattern on the top was sharp and remained as I drank the coffee.

Hopefully the next time I get a Flat White just as good.

Good Flat White

I had a really good skinny Flat White today at Costa.

Flat White

Good flavoured coffee and the milk wasn’t too foamy. This was a different branch of Costa to the one where I have been before.

Still don’t understand why it is more expensive than similar sized coffees. At Starbucks they even use a “short” cup and charge more!

It’s just a chicken sandwich…

I was on my way to catch a train when I stopped off at my local Costa for a coffee and a sandwich.

The coffee was a Flat White, well it was nearly a Flat White, well one can live in hope!

As for the sandwich, it was a chicken salad sandwich on malted brown bread.

So what did I think?

Lunch

Well it was a chicken salad sandwich and there isn’t much more to say.

The most flavoursome part of the sandwich was the bread. The chicken was cooked processed chicken, so tasted like chicken, well as in tasted of very little. The salad was mainly bland tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. There was some mayo which overpowered the chicken and salad, though you could still taste the bread. There was texture, as the salad was crisp, but I would have preferred a more soggy sandwich with lots of flavour.

The problem with mass produced sandwiches is that they are catering for the mass audience. The mainstream want something like this sandwich and in many ways prefer a bland sandwich over one with flavour. I remember watching a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall programme a few years ago on chicken and he did a taste test between organic free range chicken and a supermarket battery chicken. Interestingly most people preferred the supermarket chicken. The organic one had “too much” flavour.

We as a society have got so use to bland chicken that we now prefer bland chicken. ask yourself do you prefer breast or thighs? Chicken breast has a lot less flavour than the thighs, but most people prefer breast.

As a result of this, I get a rather tasteless chicken sandwich rather than one bursting with flavour.

Flat White’ish

Flat White'ish

After a walk this morning I found myself at my local Costa, as you do…

I have mentioned previously that:

Costa however do seem to be able to make an adequate flat white. Like most things, they don’t seem to come close to the ones I had out in New Zealand.

Well today the barista who was on duty had no idea how to make a Flat White. Alas it wasn’t the first time either that I have had a Flat White which wasn’t a Flat White.

I am guessing that they don’t get ordered much and as a result they lack the experience of making them on a regular basis and so they are a bit of a challenge. Alas this is a vicious circle, as people like me who order them, probably won’t order them again as they weren’t up to scratch.

The thing is the Flat White is not the cheap option, at £2.40 it’s near the top end of the menu of coffees. Yes I know I should have complained, but to be honest the queue behind me was horrendous, and I had three impatient little people wanting their toast and apple juice. Also the staff don’t appear to care very much about providing good service either, they come across as disorganised and see customers as an inconvenience. The thing is having been to other coffee places (independents and chains) where the baristas have been professional and shown that they really care about the coffee they make, it’s always a disappointment when you go somewhere where the staff don’t seem to care.

It isn’t a “real” Costa, in the sense that it is a franchised branch, but wouldn’t think that was really the issue. My first choice would be to avoid the place and go somewhere else… however choice is limited, and the Morrisons Cafe is not really a viable option (even if I am the Mayor).

So maybe next time I will complain, I certainly should drop a line to their head office.

Costa Flat White

Experience has told me that Starbucks though they now sell the flat white aren’t much good at making them. I have also found asking them to make a skinny flat white results in either excuses that this isn’t possible or that the end result will not be very satisfactory.

Costa however do seem to be able to make an adequate flat white.

Coffee

Like most things, they don’t seem to come close to the ones I had out in New Zealand. Costa also don’t complain if you ask for a skinny flat white either.

The only thing I don’t quite understand is why is the flat white more expensive than other similar coffees on offer?

Oh and another question is a flat white different to a latté? It should be in my opinion, a latte should have less foam and a flat white should use a foam consisting of much smaller air bubbles than you would find in a cappuccino. Not every coffee place I go to knows that though. Ah well one day I will need to go back to Auckland for a visit.

Flat White

So what is it with the Flat White?

It was never available in this country and now it’s all over the place. First I see Costa sell it and now Starbucks is also selling the Flat White.

So what is the Flat White? According to Wikipedia:

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, a Flat White is a coffee beverage prepared by pouring steamed milk from the bottom of steaming pitcher over a single shot or double shot of espresso. As with many other espresso-based drinks the Flat White is interpreted in a number of ways. In Australia it is commonly served as a single shot of espresso, whereas in New Zealand it is more commonly served using a double shot.

So it’s popular in Australia and New Zealand, and yes a fair of them have come over to the UK, likewise they are also popular counties to visit. But why the sudden popularity here in the UK of the Flat White?

No idea!

I have had it a few times now in the UK, from Costas and Starbucks and though nice, it’s not quite the same as a Flat White from New Zealand.

Photo source.