In penning this brief missive, there is a sense of going against the tide of the 3rd wave of coffee enthusiasts. However, writing what is real will stand the test of time.
The majority of British people like filtered coffee. Seconded by a coffee in milk. Way down the list is espresso. Whilst it may be surmised that the British are European, it would be a huge mistake to assume that the average British person has adapted to European tastes or culture.
A cup of coffee to a Brit, has been for many years, a cup of instant, either made with water, or milk. That is never, in the main going to be replaced by a small, expensive 1 ounce shot of black coffee.
With this in mind, and dont get me wrong, I love the good coffee shops, the atmosphere, the choices, the chance to taste different blends and single origins, it is never going to be that an espresso machine will be a standard feature in every home.
So for the average coffee shop visitor, the sales pitch, the smells, the ability to have a coffee in a different form to what is available at home, along with the American hype of the chains, has shaped a unique market for itself. Billions of dollars, Euro’s and Pounds.
To emulate the taste, its going to cost several hundred pounds in equipment that in the main will be sat on your counter and used occasionally. Drinking out is expensive though. 2 latte’s a day is about 20 to 25 pounds a week. 2 cups of filter a day is going to cost @ 15 smackers.
Britain has tasted better coffee than it ever has in the past. However, the chains work to the minimum standard acceptable, and maximise the profits from that on the basis that, its still better coffee than we are used to. As some of the smaller artisan roasters start to take a foothold in the new British Coffee scene, it is hoped that if Britain ever becomes a coffee loving population, they will not go for the bean based solely on cost.
With this mild digression, I return to the subject of this epistle, and state that the future of Coffee in the U.K., unadvertised, to be drunk at home, will be filtered coffee. Let the market leaders do what they will, and say what ever they want in order to direct profits into their corporate accounts and trendy coffee shops, but in the end, the vast majority of U.K. people will reach for a better class of coffee to be made quickly and easily. This will involve getting used to a simple filter machine, placing the appropriate amount of coffee into the receptacle, filling the water jug to the line and switching on. Its only a tad more involved than putting instant coffee into a jar, but the increase in taste and freshness is 100%.
As a coffee lover, it is good to enjoy the taste. For some, like me who have spent the last 28 years with more than a passing interest in the bean and process, it meant at some stage I would have to actually roast my own. Ive roasted in the oven, in a toaster oven, in a pan on the stove, on an open fire in Australia, Africa and America, Ive used a number of commercial Roasters, and lately am using hot air and an adapted BreadMaker. This latter method makes 600-1000 grams at a time and some of the finest tasting coffee ever. You wont know this unless you have a friend who roasts, or know a good artisan roaster. NOTHING beats the excitement of tasting a new coffee from day 5 to 15 and finding where the optimum level in the freshness is.
Wholesale coffee prices are a little lower this year than last year. The only place you will see a lowering or stabilising of prices are from the smaller roasteries. Sadly you will the chains increasing their prices to satisfy their investors and increase the dividends. Quality will not go up.
So, buy a good inexpensive filter coffee machine. A 227 gram bag of FRESH roasted coffee is going to cost about the 4 pound mark. It will make 18 cups of coffee. Thats 22 pence a cup.
We are a frugal lot us Brits. However, we dont mind paying for quality, and coffee is SURPRISINGLY cheap when looked at in these terms.
Time to look at the independent Roasters. It IS cheaper than you think, and then the choice is down to taste. Where the choice should always be.