Sticking with the big chains…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature: high streaks of overcooked bacon, a large watery poached egg rising in the east, cloying white steam clinging to the low bushes and grass, and some silent marital upsets as the day wears on.

As you probably know, I am quite fond of sitting in cafes, drinking tea, nibbling the odd cake, and, under the influence of caffeine and sugar, writing these blog pages in my little helical-bound notebook – in fact, here I am, doing it right now…
I generally visit cafes that are part of a national chain, Caffe Nero, Costas, and if desperate Starbucks with their nasty plastic cutlery and their rather weird tasting tea.
A couple of people have said that really I should support local independent cafes rather than these horrible big corporate tax dodging companies; I suppose I should, but having tried one or two local establishments, I have decided to stick with the big chains.
My reasons?
Well, whatever town you happen to be in, you can pop into a branch of say Nero’s, where you know exactly what to expect in the way of drinks, food and service – service, even when really busy the staff are always very good and friendly. The local cafes don’t seem to give their staff any training at all, and it all feels a bit lackadaisical (what a great word that is!) and of course going in there you have no idea what the food or drinks, or the staff, are going to be like.
Recently I went into a trendy independent Dulltown cafe with a couple of friends (Nero’s was packed full with noisy people and jumping running children). There didn’t seem to be an actual counter where one could order, but we soon found someone and we chose our drinks and snacks and went and sat down by the window at a strange thick low wooden table with a wide crack down the middle of it (I think this must have been a very trendy and stylishly designed wide crack) and we waited.
After about ten minutes the barista (?) came over with two of the drinks and two cakes and then went off to chat to the kitchen chap for ten minutes – it took another trip to the virtual counter to get the third beverage and cake out of her. By the way, the drinks arrived with, for some reason, small rectangular sample pieces of sticky cake in their saucers which oozed a little and clung to the sides of the cups. I think the idea was that customers should taste the sample and be so impressed that they would order a full expensive wedge of the stuff. The trouble was that they were almost impossible to pick up because they were so sticky and they also fell to pieces when one tried to get a hold of them – it was a messy business. Welcome to Dulltown!
On another occasion I tried a town centre independent cafe and ordered a Cheese and tomato panini (panino). I noticed that it was a bit more expensive than the Nero’s version and when it finally arrived it wasn’t a panino at all, but turned out to be a white bread toasted cheese sandwich on a plate accompanied by a wispy slice of tomato and half a packet of salt and vinegar flavoured crisps. Ho ho!.. Welcome to Dulltown!
I suppose there must be some good local cafes around here, but of course it is a bit of a gamble finding out which ones they are.

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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7 Responses to Sticking with the big chains…

  1. The starbucks tea tastes so terrible due to the chemicals they wash the mugs in. I don’t think they rinse them properly. Do you recall the Beanscene chain of cafes? Now they were quite wonderful, with their old beat up leather sofa, very low tables and little nooks and crannies where one could sit. They had rather good taste in background music too. My local cafe tries to be like that, and its quite alright really. Plus they do Gluten free food. And allow dogs….!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      No, I’ve never heard of Beanscene – it sounds right up my street!
      I always assumed that Starbucks tea was rotten because it was ‘American tea’ – they are not known for their tea I am led to understand…

  2. Jheron Bash says:

    Well, I couldn’t agree more! Caffe Nero man myself. Consistency is key. Can’t abide Starbucks. Don’t know about the tea, but their coffee is vile! Costa? Mmn ….

  3. Dana Doran says:

    I used to live on an island (wishing I was still there)….it only took one Starbucks opening and suddenly there appeared numerous bumper stickers that said, “friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.” Starbucks is known for its coffee, and its owner, Howard whats-his-name, and how really well he treats all his part-time employees and who he thinks should be president – but, tea? Yes, Starbucks is not known for their tea!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Maybe you’ll have your very own island one day Dana!
      Starbucks tea – I can drink it if necessary, but it tastes like no other tea I have ever had.
      I have no knowledge of ‘Howard…’. That’s probably a good thing…

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