It’s kind of what I expected…

Usually when I stop at the services on a long car journey, I venture in, see a high street chain, look at the prices and then walk out.

Well at least I managed to stretch my legs. Sometimes though I am known to order a coffee.

On my most recent visit to Membury Services, I decided I would buy a coffee, and went to Starbucks. I am actually not a great fan of the flavour of Starbucks coffee, but with no choice, I ordered a flat white.

flat white

I had quite low expectations, so in the end I quite enjoyed the coffee. It was kind of what I expected.

Though I have visited the Membury Services many times it was only last year that I realised it was next to an airfield, when I heard and then saw an airplane coming into land.

Though checking Wikipedia I realise that it was only more recently that aircraft have started flying from the airfield, as the airfield was closed in the 1960s with the construction of the M4. The services are located on the original site of the RAF Membury. The base was opened in 1942 and was used by the RAF and the USAAF.

Flying for a coffee

I’ve decided I’ve really gone off Starbucks coffee, I find that it is over roasted and I’ve not really enjoyed that coffee drinking experience. So there I was at Bristol Airport at 6am thinking I want a coffee, I could choose between Starbucks and Soho Coffee Co.

I don’t want rehash my previous visit to Soho, but as I didn’t feel like drinking Starbucks I went with Soho. The experience was as it should be, the service was polite, fast and efficient and as for the coffee, it was really nice and I enjoyed it. When you have a nice experience it does make you want to go back.

A flat Flat White

It's supposed to be a Flat WhiteI was less than impressed with a Flat White I recently had at Starbucks, it was flat and insipid. I wonder though how much of that was because it was in a paper cup? I’m not a great fan of coffee in paper cups and where possible I will “drink in” so I can have a proper china cup.

I still find it a little incredulous how much we pay for coffee in paper cups these days, we think it’s somewhat normal!

Soft and Sweet

Recently at Bristol Temple Meads I was changing trains, down in the subway is a (relatively) new Starbucks. I didn’t enjoy the coffee I had at the AMT stand so even though it isn’t my favourite coffee, I always think they over roast their beans, I went to Starbucks.

In the end I went with my usual standby, a tall Americano and in their usual marketing ways, I was asked if I wanted a cake or a pastry. I was feeling a little peckish, so looking over I decided to go with the chocolate caramel slice.

Once on the train I settled down to my coffee and cake. The coffee wasn’t that bad and I was quite pleased. I think it’s interesting how different coffee can be even across a chain as standardised as Starbucks. The worst place for Starbucks I find are the motorway services where I generally get poor service and not so good coffee. However this time I was pleased with what I got.

As for the chocolate caramel slice, I remembered that i much prefer them if they are chilled, this was a little too near room temperature. Having said that the shortbread was crumbly and flaky, I did feel it crumbled a little too much and needed a lot more bite. The caramel (as was to be expected) was soft and sweet, but not too sweet. The chocolate though was a little on the thin side, I think had it been chilled, so it was hard and brittle, it would work well with the soft caramel, as it was it too was a little soft. So the end result was soft shortbread, soft caramel and soft chocolate, not quite what I wanted or was expecting.

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

Now I don’t drink instant coffee if I can help it. If no real coffee is available I will drink tea. I have “accidently” drunk instant coffee now and again, well I have taken a sip and then put it down!

Though I did see these Starbucks VIA Ready Brew not only in my local Starbucks but also in my local supermarket.

I decided that I would give them a go. As well as instant coffee the sachets also include microground coffee, which I hoped would make it better than instant coffee.

Made a cup…

Okay, even though it is better that most instant coffees, it still tasted like instant coffee. It’s okay and would do at a pinch. I can see taking some when staying at hotels in order to have coffee in my room. In the meantime I will continue drinking real coffee!

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.

For lunch I will have a latte…

My usual coffee is an espresso, or an americano. In the past I may have had a mocha or a frappucino, but these days I generally go for the coffee and if it is an americano I may add some skimmed milk.

For lunch I will have a latte…

It would appear though that the iced coffees with all that cream are quite calorific. The BBC reports:

Some iced coffees being sold on the high street contain as many calories as a hot dinner, a cancer charity warns.

It is the combination of sugar, full-fat milk and cream which appear to push some of the cool coffees into the upper echelons of the calorie scale.

Starbucks’ Dark Berry Mocha Frappuchino for example contains 561 calories.

Ouch!

That’s one unhealthy coffee!

Read more

Photo source

Starbucks shrinking…

It would seem that problems with the American economy is hitting Starbucks quite hard.

According to an article on the BBC, they are closing 600 of their outlets.

The coffee chain Starbucks plans to close 500 stores in the US on top of the 100 it had already announced.

It’s not as bad as it sounds in some respects as Starbucks intends to open 200 new stores this year. The 600 which are closing are the stores which are performing badly and interestingly most of the drive-thrus are closing.

I have noticed a few Starbucks in the UK have recently closed.

Help, we need somebody…

BBC reports on how Starbucks is trying to get its customers to come up with fresh ideas.

Coffee chain giant Starbucks is hoping its loyal customers may be able to brew up the bright ideas to help turn around its struggling fortunes.

The company recently launched a website offering its US customers the chance to pitch ideas for how the firm can improve its stores and operations.

Here’s some free advice Starbucks…

Make better coffee, nicer environments and lower your prices.

Oh and free wireless wouldn’t go amiss either!

Latte please, to go…

Imagine going to Starbucks having already ordered your drink from your iPhone?

Cafe

Engadget reports on an application for the iPhone which allows you to place an order for a drink so it’s ready when you get there.

Quickorder, as you can probably imagine, would enable iPod touch users to swing by their local Starbucks, order up their favorite drink and avoid a good deal of that always questionable human interaction.

Just demonstrates how useful/useless an application for a mobile device can be.

Photo source.