Before television there were only four types of coffee in Britain. These were: proper, instant, frothy and Camp. Camp coffee was invented during the war. As proper, instant and frothy were hard to come by the Ministry of Food recruited the young Mary Berry to set about the task of finding a suitable alternative. Taking a break from her research in the summer of 1940 Mary went on a short camping trip to the chicory fields of Scotland and whilst there, realised that the bitter taste of the famous Scottish herb was perfect – not just as a coffee substitute but also as a useful ingredient in the making of the Coffee and Walnut cake. Mary was hailed as a saviour of coffee, but she shook off the plaudits, popped on her sensible shoes, her loud jacket and no nonsense approach, and headed off in search of the perfect substitute for walnut. And cake. It was on this journey that Mary met and married Paul Hollywood and had two children: Nigella Lawson Berry Hollywood, and Halle Berry Hollywood.
Ordinary English folk were thrilled with their Camp coffee, but after the Battle of Pearl and Dean everything changed and England was invaded by the Americans. The yanks brought with them glamour, nylons, customer service and Starbucks. And so began a revolution in British coffee habits.
Traditionally coffee was a relatively simple affair – you either wanted it with sugar, without any degree of surliness, or with extra steam for the windows. Luckily the Government’s literacy strategy had begun to pay dividends and we slowly became able to cope with far more complex information. Thus the concept of choice was introduced. Choice is what children now have: for example, they can now choose from a range of allergies. Children have played a key role in our obsession with coffee. As most don’t like the taste of coffee, they must somehow have been desensitised. Jimmy Starbucks was the man who pioneered this. He noticed that his cafes were full of hip young people but where were the pensioners? Where were the yummy mummies? Of course appealing to pensioners was pointless – there was no way they’d pay that kind of money or be able to hold those big cups, but the yummies were a different kettle of chips. Of course when they weren’t in Boden, they were busy moving house in order to be part of a better school catchment area, but he just knew they wanted to be part of the Starbucks experience. One day, noticing how much froth was left behind in cups, he hit on the brilliant concept of the babycino. The babycino is a small cup with no sharp edges that contains a serving of the previously discarded froth along with a homeopathic dose of caffeine to aid desensitisation, marshmallows, syrup, a chocolate flake and sprinkles to make it palatable. Of course this meant that his staff would need retraining and so began the career of the barista. (footnote: A barista is someone who isn’t a barrister). As word got out on mumsnet the yummies flocked to Starbucks as fast as they could. Of course it wasn’t that fast as they were hampered by large Silver Cross prams. Luckily the husband of a yummy who had a proper job saw his opportunity and invented the All Terrain Pushchair. (footnote: An All Terrain Pushchair is for babies on their gap year in Nepal). Suddenly cafes were full of preschoolers sipping babycinos and discussing Peppa Pig for their book club. Their mummies taught them that they are in an episode of Friends and it is rude to ask for a coffee and encouraged them to get a latte instead. This language is now known as canigeddaskinnyladday.
This social revolution coincided neatly with the Blair Government’s National Childcare Strategy in 1997. Cherie knew that inculcating children at an early age into productive society could only be achieved by giving them unrealistic aspirations. Within a decade her vision was realised: in every high street in the land a whole generation were either drinking coffee, or making it.
Never ask for a small or large. Coffee may only be drunk in 1, 2, or 8 gallon buckets. It is possible to geddit extra hot, but as it is already at subcritical levels, caution should exercised. For example, it is possible to buy a coffee in Winchester on a Tuesday and begin to drink it in Ecclefechan the following weekend. Nor should you ever ask for coffee as this is known as tautology. (footnote: tautology is the study of tightropes). Apart from chai, which is a drink made of molten Yankee Candle, the concept of coffee is a given. Instead you should ask for:
Latte – this is mainly milk
Cappuccino – this is mainly milk but with cocoa sprinkled on the top in the shape of a wry laugh
Flat white – this is mainly milk but with the image of Christ etched in milk
Macchiato – no one knows what this is
Espresso – this is the smallest item available in a coffee shop and is easily hidden beneath a muffin. (footnote: a muffin used to be a sweet, flat, bread product enjoyed by the Englsih when they were playing Gaslight. It also used to be a mule, and spare flesh. It is now used to describe a large cake that isn’t quite cooked in the middle and can be flavoured with chocolate, blueberries, ginger, skinny, and full English breakfast). Nor should you ever try to be in a rush to geddaladday. Instead of pouring you a coffee, your beverage is now prepared using the following simple steps: grow, wait, harvest, roast, grind, get customer’s name, brew, ask if you wanna pastry with that, pour. Under Unfair Trade it used to be quicker but then we decided we didn’t like the idea of exploitation of the third world in relation to our coffee so we encouraged Fair Trade. (footnote: Fair Trade is when you carry on normal trade but provide communities with the opportunity to make clothes for Primark).