Tag Archives: coffee

GRANDE STARBUCKS AMERICANO COFFEE WITH A DASH OF MILK AND SUGAR IN A TAKE AWAY CUP

starbucks

Guest blog by Mansour Chow

Okay. Let’s get this part over with before I can truly begin.

Yes, it was from Starbucks.

I know. I know. It’s a company that thrived through an unethical and aggressive clustering model, opening multiple stores near independent businesses so that the overall share of coffee sales for the independent businesses drops significantly causing them to stagnate, or worse, to fold because they don’t have the vast resources to ride out the storm. Naomi Klein, in No Logo, describes it as this:

The idea is to saturate an area with stores until the coffee competition is so fierce that sales drop even in individual Starbucks outlets.”

It worked because, again, according to Klein:

“…while sales were slowing at individual stores, the total sales of all the chain’s stores combined continued to rise. Put another way, Starbucks the company was expanding its market while its individual outlets were losing market share, largely to other Starbucks outlets… but the chains’ aggressive strategy of market expansion has the added bonus of simultaneously taking out competitors.”

So, yeah, I bought the coffee from Starbucks: a company that, until the practice was exposed and became too controversial, undertook lease-poaching against independent coffee stores, offering higher rents to landlords under the noses of those independent businesses, causing closures and evictions for the independent coffee shop, only for it to quickly be replaced by a Starbucks.

We’re talking about Starbucks: a company which in 2012 had ten-year sales of 3bn in the UK, but paid only £8.5m in corporation tax (and nothing from 2008-2012). This is a company with *arguably opaque accounting practices, *arguably using creative accounting to give the impression that they’ve made losses in order not to pay corporation tax. A company that currently appears (*arguably) to be using the same sort of creative accounting to give the impression that they make less profit than they actually do in order to pay very little in corporation tax.

Yes, I know. Starbucks: a company that has only just starting paying the national living wage, significantly less than what the Living Wage Foundation recommends.

Yes, Starbucks: a company whose coffee is alleged to be extra-roasted (burnt) to disguise the poor quality of the beans. Starbucks, whose coffee frequently performs poorly in taste tests.

And yet I knew all that and still had a coffee there. What does that say about me? I’ll tell you what it says about me. It says I’m a piece of shit. Okay. I admit it. I’m a god damn piece of shit. What more do you want from me?

Oh, you want to talk about the takeaway cups? Well, good. So do I. Let’s talk about the takeaway cups. 

I know they can’t really be recycled. I know that Starbucks deliberately (*arguably) gives the impression to customers that the cups can be recycled, even when only two extremely specialist recycling plants in the UK can do it.

I knew all this and yet I still had my coffee in a takeaway cup anyway, even in that knowledge.

Okay? Are you happy? I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again. I’m a piece of shit. I’m scum. What more do you want from me? An apology? Okay, I’m sorry. I’m genuinely sorry. Are you happy now? Of course you’re not happy. Your kind will never be happy.

***

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I can actually tell you about something far more important: the so-called warning on the cup. It reads:

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

Can you believe that? Let me write it again in case you don’t believe what you’ve just read.

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

Okay, I copied and pasted that one. So let me truly write it again (technically type it, but I think this qualifies as both nowadays, doesn’t it?).

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

The fucking cheek of those bastards. I mean, seriously. You know what I’m getting at, don’t you?

How they hell do they know I’m going to enjoy it?!  How dare they assume! I’ll be the bloody judge of whether I enjoy their beverage or not. I won’t have it suggested or NLPd into me. I won’t allow it, and I won’t stand for it. Capitalist pigs. 

Notice they say ‘extremely hot’. Extremely hot. Extremely hot, not just hot, but extremely hot. Fucking show-offs.

Well, if it’s extremely hot, then how the hell am I about to enjoy it? As far as I’m concerned, if it’s extremely hot then it’s too hot. And if it’s too hot then I’m not going to enjoy the fucking beverage.

And how the hell do they know it’s extremely hot? How do they know when I’ll choose to drink it? What if I wait for it to go cold? Then their fucking smug warning on their cup is a complete lie.

But it was a fucking lie anyway.

It’s all a lie. We have been raised in a consumerist society of blinkered and distorted vision. It creates idiots like me who buy coffee from unethical companies in cups that I know are bad for the environment. It confuses us into thinking we can’t make a difference. It throws doubt into our brains so we feel any actions to cause less harm, minimise risk or even do good are a drop in the ocean.

It’s the same system that tells us everyone can be a winner, but it’s all a fucking lie. I mean, look at me. Tell me honestly, do you really think someone like me can ever be a winner? Come on, just tell the truth. You couldn’t even say that with a smidgeon of conviction. Just be honest with me. I can take it. Exactly, I am a disgusting piece of shit and my existence is beyond worthless.

As for the coffee, I don’t think it’s as bad as snobs say.

Overall rating: 5/10

*Please don’t sue. I’m skint enough as it is

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FOOTBALL AWAY DAY TRANSIT CUISINE

Euston2

Let’s set the ground rules of this blog at the very beginning: this is not about your pie and pint scenarios available within football stadia. This is simply about the palette of options available to the hungry regular eater in the course of travel to a fixture.

It’s an all out wallow in mediocre options. This is entirely due to the base fact that UK’s transport interchanges have been co-opted by humdrum coffee chains, pasty booths and M&S Simply Food (which also sells drinks).

On my way to watch MK Dons v Leeds United, via London Euston station, I went for an M&S egg, tomato and salad cream packaged sandwich and a Delice de France white Americano.

The sandwich fulfilled the necessary hallmarks of being ‘simply food’ but arguably did take a couple of fairy-steps beyond. It was, frankly, decent. The tang of the condiment undoubtedly complimented the egg – a bit like a yoghurt-coated favourite cushion, yet at the same time, not at all like that.

The white Americano, however, was as stultifyingly bland and mildly offensive as the kind of white American that would vote for Jeb Bush. The cardboard cup displayed the matter-of-fact statement ‘Caution: contents hot’ which might make an excellent metaphor for the mundane tyranny of modern professional football, if you were feeling inclined to go down that route.

It is also a statement that is not the bringer of patronising truth it first appears; if the coffee has been drunk or simply been left to stand for a good amount of time, it would, in fact, be a total lie. Readers, I know this is a lot to take in.

My team, Leeds, won the match 1-2 in possible the most unjust result in the history of the game. But this was very much the undercard to another successful afternoon foraging the unimaginative and somewhat depressing bastions of average food.

M&S SIMPLY FOOD EGG, TOMATO AND SALAD CREAM SANDWICH: 7/10

DELICE DE FRANCE WHITE AMERICANO: 2/10

LAVAZZA COFFEE

Hypocrites, you may call us; getting all fancy with our Lavazza coffee on this here blog purporting to support down and dirty mediocrity. You are wrong.

The nebulous nature of average consumables means that somewhere you need a benchmark, and that benchmark is the local mini market. If it’s sold there, it qualifies. Lavazza coffee qualifies.

By happy chance, it’s also better ‘real’ coffee than almost any that’s projectile-puked out of a big machine anywhere: the £3-plus corporate foam/sugar combos, the £4-plus organic, in-season, roasted-a-really-specific-way coffee, all of that stuff.

It’s solid, it’s basic, it claims nor provides any sort of exotic complexity, transcendental experience, or feeling of ethical superiority. It asks no more than to be accepted as a sound beverage that gets you a tad hyped, helps you tolerate human company, and has a pleasant aftertaste.

The Lavazza slogan is ‘Italy’s favourite coffee’. If this can be proven scientific fact, then them Italians have taste, if you ignore the occasional preference for tight white jeans. Visit Italy*.

If the cheap laminated Lavazza sign flaps in the breeze outside a cafe, then, and only then are you safe to enter. But if that’s a little too much humanity-at-large for you, those home coffee-making pots can be acquired for a few quid down your local miscellaneous homeware store. Then, naturally, to the minimarket!

9/10

*We are open to lucrative sponsorship approaches from the Italian Tourist Board/ Lavazza/ Both.