Long time readers of the blog will know that I’m a coffee lover. More specifically, Costa Coffee, with whom I have a long-standing relationship. Today’s tale is about the most expensive coffee I’ve ever had.
Kopi luwak. Not only is it a high score in Scrabble, it’s also the name of the world’s most expensive coffee. Apparently you can get a cup of it in America for $80.
What makes it so expensive is that it’s made from coffee beans which have been eaten, partially digested and then pooped out by a civet, which is a cat-like creature.
I’ve often heard the question “who first thought of tasting milk from a cow” asked online in a bid to encourage us all to think of just how odd that would be. If the thought of doing that for the first time is grim, I can only wonder what was going through the mind of the person who first tried kopi luwak.
“That looks like partially digested coffee beans in that pile of poo… I wonder what it tastes like when brewed?”
Although the idea of pooed-out coffee beans isn’t overly appealing, I would probably try a cup of kopi luwak given the chance. For no other reason than “just because”.
But this story isn’t about kopi luwak. It’s about my morning cup of coffee.
Picture the scene. It’s a Tuesday. You’ve had a long and emotional weekend that passed by in the blink of an eye. Monday came and went - all 152 hours of it - and you’ve woken tired with a To-Do list longer than the back garden.
You need coffee.
Costa is open, though thanks to the pandemic, your favourite store doesn’t open until later so your pre-2020 routine of getting there at 6.30am and working from your favourite table for 2 hours isn’t viable.
You solve that problem by getting coffee on the go and working from home. Step forward the Costa Drive Thru.
Opening at silly o’clock in the morning, Costa Drive Thru has been a mainstay of my post-lockdown / pre-return-to-an-office routine. Tuesday morning was no exception.
I drive up to the speaker box. “Welcome to Costa, what can I get you?” echoes out across a fairly deserted retail park.
“Morning!” I reply, as cheerfully as one can when they’ve been without caffeine for 22 hours, “I have my own cups.” For those that don’t know, Costa give you a 25p discount on coffee if you bring your own cup. Money-saving and environmentally friendly. Tick, tick!
“Can I get two medium skinny lattes please?”.
I congratulate myself on not saying “to take away” at the end of that sentence which, I hate to admit, I have done on more than one occassion, as though getting an order to drink in is possible as you’re sat in the drivers seat. And bless the staff at Costa Drive Thru. Not once have they ever pulled me up when I’ve said it.
I pull up to the window, pay for my two coffees and take them from the barista in the serving window.
The pandemic has been odd for many reasons, but one of the things to come out of it is a reluctance to touch too much. I’m the same. If handwashing were an Olympic event, I’d be a medal contender, and I’ve long-held the ability to pull my sleeves over my hands to prevent touching the surface of a door. (Trust me, as a man who has pee’d in public urinals many times, you do NOT want to know how many men handle their junk and don’t wash their hands before opening doors. Yuk.)
Costa is no different. Although I have my own cups, they still make the drinks in takeout cups at the drive thru. Still saves me 25p per drink, but not so environmentally friendly.
I take my two lattes, place them both in the cup holders in the car and drive round the corner. I park up, unscrew the lid to my own portable mug and slowly pour the latte into my cup. I’ve often thought that I could do this as and when I get home, but I like to take my time drinking my latte and the truth is that having it in my own vacuum mug ensures that it stays hotter for longer.
The vacuum mug, incidentally, is one that I bought from Costa many years ago. It looks battered and worn these days, but it does what it needs to and I’m happy with it. It’s officially a medium size, which is 16oz for those that care.
I say “officially”. On more than one occassion I’ve poured a latte from a medium takeaway cup into my medium vacuum mug, and still had coffee left over. Either the takeaway cups hold more than 16oz when full, or my cup holds less than 16oz.
Tuesday morning was no different. I absent-mindedly put my now-full vacuum mug on my passenger seat and turned to pour the remainder of the takeout cup into the drain outside.
It was as I turned back that I saw - seemingly in slow motion - my vaccuum cup falling to one side. Thankfully, I have fairly good reactions, and I managed to get my hand to it before it fully toppled.
That’s not to say it didn’t spill. In my haste to catch the mug, I inadvertedly managed to put my finger in it, causing the inside of the mug to spin around my finger and THEN fall. My brain was suddenly pre-occupied with the burning sensation that my latte-dunked index finger was feeling that it didn’t process the new falling direction and thus, with the final flourish of me knocking the mug as I withdrew my finger, 16oz (or there abouts) of hot, milky, sugared latte flowed over the passenger seat of the car, splashing over the handbrake and leaving a pool of coffee around the gear stick.
£2.70, wasted. And thanks to the fact that it was a latte and therefore almost entirely milk, coupled with the fact that this week is hot and humid in the UK, I’ve had to pay £39 to get the inside of the car valeted to get rid of the smell.
So this week, I had my most expensive coffee ever, at the cost of £41.70, and I didn’t even get to drink any of it.
For those of you that wonder what you may do in that same scenario, I can tell you that I swore - loudly - and then drove through the drive thru again.
“Morning, welcome to Costa. What can I get you?”
“Morning… I have my own cup. Can I get one medium skinny latte please?”
“Just one this time?”
“Yes please… and can I get some paper towels to wipe up a spillage.”
When I got to the drive-thru window, the barista handed more blue paper towel than I think I’ve ever seen before. She’d also dampened some cloths to help make it easier for me to clear up, passed me a bag to put all of my rubbish in and processed the new drink as a freebie.
And that is why I love Costa!