Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The coffee shop conquerors

It wouldn’t have been my top priority as an academic study but two US professors have put “coffee shop conquerors” under the spotlight. You know, the customers who sit in Costa and Starbucks for hours on end, tapping away at their laptops, hogging tables designed for four and glaring at people who politely ask “is this chair taken?” Or in US academic-speak, “communicate to other customers that intrusion is not welcome.” 

The professors’ report claims that thanks to the free WiFi on offer in most coffee shops, more and more workers are using them as satellite offices. They spread their papers across tables, talk loudly on mobile phones and pore over their MacBooks as if their lives depended on it. They send out subliminal messages saying “don’t interrupt me, I’m a very busy person,” and worse still, they make a single skinny latte last all afternoon.

It’s a trend that’s prevalent in the UK as well as the US – though in Oxford right now you’re more likely to stumble across bleary-eyed students revising for exams than budding entrepreneurs in sharply cut business suits.

Actually, on the subject of coffee shops, the thing that most irritates me is the decision by Starbucks to try and learn their customers’ names. I’m all for being friendly but as long as I get a decent flat white coffee and some peace and quiet to read my book I don’t care what the staff in my local Starbucks call me.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Parking and coffee - the French way

I thought I was clued up about France, but thanks to Michael Wright and his brilliant C’est la folio column in the Daily Telegraph I’ve just discovered something new.

Apparently, if you invite French guests to dinner they will always turn their car around when they arrive, ready for a neat, speedy getaway at the end of the evening.

It’s a brilliant idea – and one my mother took up years ago. She got so fed up with the embarrassment of doing a complicated 36-point turn as her hosts watched that she hit on the idea of always parking her car with the bonnet facing in the direction of home.

I started copying her example after I had lunch with friends in Northamptonshire. They had a very narrow driveway and as I reversed gingerly out, I suddenly saw that their smiles and waves had turned to frantic gestures and looks of horror. But too late. I backed straight into a bollard on the pavement in front of their very eyes, destroying my bumper and most of the bollard in the process...

PS. Michael Wright also pointed out that nobody in France puts milk in their coffee. It just isn’t done. In fact if you even dare to order a café crème after midday in France you’ll get a withering look. It must be a petit café or an espresso. Nothing else will do. In similar vein, if you ask for a “well done” steak you’ll get very short shrift. I once asked for my steak to be “bien cuit” in a chic brasserie in Paris (above). The waiter looked surprised and seconds later the chef, in his cooking whites, stormed out of the kitchen and shouted his head off at me for daring to ask for such a thing. “Not in my restaurant,” he yelled at the top of his voice.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...