Coffee Posers

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Virgil Evetts

What is it with people and their coffee preferences? Once upon a time coffee was either white or black, filter or instant. Sure it tasted bloody horrible, but at least there was little room for pretensions and misguided dietary convictions on the part of the punter.  Nowadays New Zealand has one of the world’s more sophisticated coffee cultures, and our roasters and baristas conspire to produce some pretty extraordinary cups.  However, as with any movement in fashion, there are myriad posers.

Spend half an hour in any city cafe and you will observe an endless stream of sad buggers seemingly vying for the title of World’s Stupidest Coffee Order, from the mildly irritating trim cappuccino to the supremely dumb de-cafe trim soy macchiato.

What is the motivation for this sort of silliness? Have these people no shame? Well, having asked around a bit, it seems to be a heady mix of peer pressure, genuine-but-highly-flawed health consciousness, and finally, screaming affectation.

A cafe I’m rather fond of (largely on account or their incredible rhubarb & custard brioche and alluringly surly waitresses) is also very popular with the local Parnell ladies who lunch. This clan is fearfully image conscious and the ladies like to outdo each other when it comes to ordering caffeine, fat and fun-free coffee.  Maybe it’s bad for the Botox and collagen, I don’t know. The ultimate stupidity in ordering such butchered beverages is that they are frequently accompanied with a fat and carb-laden lump of stodge, such as the ubiquitous and tedious muffin (does anyone actually like these, really?). The amount of fat in a regular flat white is far, far lower than such associated baked goods.

Unless you have heart problems, an impaired liver or insomnia there is no good reason to go near the thin woody nonsense that is decaf.  All coffee tastes pretty rough, but at least it makes your head spin. Decaf has no such benefits. It’s just oral flagellation. 

I have an inherent distrust of artificial sweeteners, based largely on half-remembered alarmist articles I’ve read, but more importantly based on my wondering how much sugar people are having in their coffee that they need to worry? Unless you’re diabetic, suck it up Sugar! At any rate, I’ve always felt people who sweeten their coffee were a bit soft;  coffee should be bitter and nasty. If you can’t handle that, order a cocoa and have a nice sit-down.

I know several people who have claimed to be lactose intolerant. When pressed, every one of them admits that they haven’t actually been tested for this – they just know. You see, allergies are chic. Everyone who is anyone is lactose intolerant and probably gluten intolerant too. Rather than finding these types admirable and sympathetic I find them deeply irritating.  I take every opportunity to sneak vast quantities of lactose and gluten into whatever I’m serving such fraudsters.

But the worst coffee sin? Ordering a fluffy for your wee one. I know, it’s just a bit of frothed milk. But what you are doing right there is initiating a child into coffee drinking- a decidedly grown-up pursuit. Just because they want to feel like a ‘big person’ by joining you in a cuppa, doesn’t mean you have to humour them.  What’s wrong with a glass of apple juice?


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4 thoughts on “Coffee Posers

  1. Dear Virgil, your article would offend me if it wasn’t true, but this is more invective than your usual stuff. May I add that you were caffeine fuelled when you wrote this, right? So you were probably a bit more cynical and wired than normal, but I feel I must defend myself at least.

    As a drinker of soy chai latte… See More (a drink that even my partner won’t buy for me unless I’m there for him to say – “what is you want again” loudly, so that nobody is in any doubt that it’s me it’s for), I am on your *hitlist, but I stand by it. It’s a refreshing hug in a glass that doesn’t send me mental and make me terrify my office mates.

    And do you know that upwards of 50% of the world’s population are said to be lactose intolerant. We should be have been weaned when we were weaned. We are not designed to be drinking that stuff as much as we do. And believe me, you know because you KNOW!

    Same with gluten intolerancy; you know you are, when after a donut bender when my stomach swells up to twice its normal size and then starts to deflate in a few hours in a very anti-social way.

    And the reason kids have fluffy’s is because it’s not just a drink (and I don’t think it means they are going to be coffee drinkers when they are older – they tend to graduate to hot chocolate and stay there for many years) it’s also an activity to keep them quiet. An apple juice is gone in 30 seconds, but the stirring, spooning, slurping and inevitable mopping up that a fluffy involved allows me to enjoy some of my milky fake drink in peace. And also they get marshmallows or a chocolate fish with them too.

    Finally, when it comes to humouring children, talk to me in a year or two when your tune has been changed by your impending wee one! Mwahahaha!

  2. I confess to being a decaf drinker at times, but only as I love coffee, and too much caffeine combined with stress and tiredness (which is precisely when you need it most!) is likely to cause the unpleasant sensation of my heart skipping beats… without my gorgeous husband being anywhere near me!

  3. Ha ha, I do agree with 90% of this.

    I do genuinely like a decent muffin (although they are hard to find).

    And I used to order fluffies for my toddlers at times although I didn’t go to cafes all that much with them. If we were doing something together they would MUCH prefer to go to the park, and if we needed food/treats the bakery was much cheaper. And now they are school age taking them to a cafe is very expensive as they want the juice or hot chocolate and brownie etc…I often think taking kids to cafes is for the parents rather than for the children.

    No I like to go on my own and people watch or read my book or if lucky the cafe’s nice mag, or go with a friend to catch up.

    My husband does not believe in milky coffees after lunch but I am not so strict as that. He won’t let a drop of instant cross his lips but I do occasionally when out (although I often choose tea on those occasions).

    There is alot of w**k that goes along with coffee now but it is the pleasure/vice I would find it hardest to give up.

  4. “But the worst coffee sin? Ordering a fluffy for your wee one. I know, it’s just a bit of frothed milk. But what you are doing right there is initiating a child into coffee drinking- a decidedly grown-up pursuit. Just because they want to feel like a ‘big person’ by joining you in a cuppa, doesn’t mean you have to humour them. What’s wrong with a glass of apple juice?”

    Apple juice costs $3 in a cafe, whereas a fluffy costs 50c to $1. A very cheap way to keep the children happy while you’re savouring your daily cuppa.