Coffee or tea?
Most people living abroad would associate Brits with tea. We have all seen those lovely china cups and trays of digestives and cakes in Upstairs and Downstairs or Agatha Christie´s Poirot TV series. Coffee would only be served sometimes, usually to visually refer to modern times or to the well-off, middle/ professional class characters in that episode (as set up in the first half 20th century).
Tea is to UK what coffee is to other countries – to some extent, that is. Things have actually changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. Three aspects have caught my eye since the first day: coffee shops, types of coffes available here and how people in UK actually have their coffee.
When I first arrived, I still had coffee and tea. It took me quite a bit of research to find a good coffee shop. Chains were everywhere, but they tend to lack that cosy atmosphere. Most of the coffee shops that I´d find would be run by people from countries such as Iran or Italy. Some of them would refreshingly look like a traditional coffee shop back at home, as opposed to the sofa style as seen in TV series Friends. These days, I have seen more coffee shops or ´greasy spoon´ cafes serving half-decent coffee. Global economy, maybe?
Another explanation might be the huge amounts of foreigners living in London. 14 million counting the un-registered foreigners. After some two or three years, I started to notice that the customer base in coffee shops was mixed. People from older generations and other countries sharing the same store with the younger generation, many of them British young professionals.
It seems that alongside an interest in foreign cuisines, there is this interest in coffee. Travellers have probably helped to raise an interest in quality coffee and which is served in so many different and fun ways. I had never thought about the many types of coffee available! Over 10 years ago, only white, black and American coffee were widely available, whereas I have lately found here many of the coffees shown in this infographic (courtesy of CharmingItaly.com) and that are not so widely available back at home. They are also so pricey, that instant coffee used to be a close ally. Have you ever tried doppio?
The way people have their coffee in London/ UK keeps startling me. At work, it looks like they have it in the same way as tea, that is, big mug with little o no milk at all. How can they cope with so much cafeine everyday? Coffee tends to be stronger than tea. I don´t think they care, though. Coffee in offices tends to be quite weak anyway.
These days, I have this little dilemma: tea or coffee vs herbal tea… I certainly miss the taste of the black liquid mixed with some milk…
What kind of coffee would you like to try?