Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Caffeine Headache

With 400 dead in religious fighting in Nigeria, a terrorist massacre in Mumbai, New York on high alert for an attack before Obama's inauguration, and the world seemingly in a state of perpetual war, it's important to keep perspective on things and not let the fearmongers win. So, I want to discuss coffee cups.

It's becoming an issue for me. Granted, not a life-threatening one, not even one that is of any real interest to anyone but myself - but an issue nonetheless. Coffee is a vital part of my day, it kick starts my brain, and more specifically the guilt lobe, which after an hour of reading about the state of the world and imbibing caffeine, forces me to try and mutate the base materials of life into three and half minutes of aurally pleasing gold.

What I need, therefore, is a relatively quiet spot, a relatively recent newspaper, a relatively decent cup of black coffee (none of your decaf skinny mochaccino hazelnut whip lattes here)... and most importantly, a fucking cup I can drink from. I am a widely travelled man, I appreciate different cultures, but when did it become fashionable for anywhere other than Paris to serve coffee in bowls? Granted, in France a croissant dipped into a bowl of hot chocolate can make a heartwarming breakfast - if you're seven, eating at a picnic table with smiling strangers, and suffering the freezing cold of yet another fucking christian commune when you thought you were going on holiday. But that's for another session.

Coffee in a bowl is the equivalent of a square wheel. My species evolved with opposable thumbs, and the ability to raise our elbows. Am I a fucking horse now? No, coffee should be served in something you can pick up, preferably with one hand, whilst idly flicking past the headlines to the sport, and simultaneously checking out your reflection in the mirror opposite. It should not be served in something that is so fucking hot you can't pick it up, so fucking cold twenty seconds later it's undrinkable, and so fucking wide that you give yourself a facial in the steam and dunk your freshly blow-dried fringe before finally giving up and asking for one to go.

Is it too much to ask, that in a dangerous and unpredictable world, at least one cafe in this part of Manhattan could serve coffee in a decent porcelain cup? Even a mug. Maybe it is too much, like peace in our time, religious tolerance, Ipods that don't freeze on long journeys, and accurate weather reports. Damn you, Obama, you gave me hope for a better world, and still I have to put up with this. Next week: Palestine vs Israel, who makes the best pastries?

Picture 1) Right.
Picture 2) Wrong, and against God and nature.


  1. Can we add to that list, stainless steel teapots that won't pour without drenching the entire table. How the hell did these get past factory quality control?

  2. I would like to add places that serve drinks in half barrels and serve food on dishes the size of dustbin lids but have tiny round tables, the size and stability of a £2 coin balanced on a gummy bear.
    oh..and war, injustice, persecution.. yadda yadda..etc..

  3. They have to justify charging you $5 per cup somehow...

  4. I still like the Greek themed blue cups that most diners, deli's and street coffee vendors serve. When I see one, I end up with a "Big Fat Greek Wedding"-like sense of pride about my heritage.

  5. Le Pain Quotidien? Great tables for spreading papers out on (my fave is the branch in ABC carpet and home)...and bonus - honey in BEARS. honestly!

  6. Well, they are both wrong on my book for I'm a tea drinker.

    So basically you're telling us that you're a purist when it comes to coffee and coffee cups? It's pretty close of professing fundamentalism, Tom!

    Désolée...just trying to tie everything together...

  7. Really? A bowl with no handle? What about taking your own mug with you and just let them accept you as the eccentric (but endearing) Englishman. As long as their "health and safety" rules allow them to pour their coffee into your mug. You might have to sign a waiver.

    And you really do have to tell us more about these holidays sometime, as some of us might have thought a camp like that could be fun for our children....

  8. I don't see what's so wrong with drinking coffee from a bowl.
    See; in my country, we take time to eat and drink, we don't have coffee on the go.
    Morning coffee (mostly filtered, and nothing to do with that american "jus de chaussette") is part of the breakfast ritual. While the coffee cools down in your bowl, you read the news, toast your bread, spread the jam on the bread...

    I guess the bowl you tried was not a real, thick porcelain and "burn-proof" one, or the Breton bowl with little "ears" on each side...
    (here, since we can't post pictures http://www.comptoirdescorsaires.com/img-boutique-saint-malo/bol-tradition-breton.jpg )

    Ps: they also make bowls with handles
    Pps: did I mention that I hate coffee? ;)

  9. I have to agree against those big bowls for coffee, its even worse being across from someone about to drink from one and almost their whole face disappears behind it when they sip.....lol
    On a more serious note, the world has such a great sickness and its spreading, I never thought an evil could get worse but it has,it gets harder and harder to read and hear about the suffering of many and the terrorist threats that hang heavily on everyones shoulders, the helplessness of knowing that physically it seems harder to beat evil but emotionally we do need to be strong and never bow down to those evil bastards.
    Tom that kind of sounds like a kids holiday from hell, guess you weren't sending out "wish you were here" postcards to your mates.

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  11. Liz (rougeforever): Oh, the "honey in the bear"-thing is quite popular here in Hungary. Or at least it was when I was a kid. I did not like honey at all but it was fun having such bear. :)

    Tom: this is my first comment. I love your blog and keep up the good work. :) I hope somewhere, sometime I'll have the chance to see one of your gigs. Unfortunately, US is very very very far away from Hungary.

    As for the coffee: I prefer the small cups with handles.

  12. I wanted to add my pennies worth about the over the top sized coffee mugs...they don't fit in my handbag...you can take the girl out of Liverpool etc etc etc!
    Tom I moved to CA so I would atleast have a chance to see you on tour...but no tour dates on your website, what's going on???

  13. I have a funny/annoying coffee story to share. I just recently visited the California Academy of Sciences museum in San Fran and they had an exhibit on conservation since that's the theme of the whole damn museum, it was built with recycled steel and insulated with old denim scraps..anyway, one exhibit talked about how using paper coffee cups makes up millions of pounds of trash a year and if we all used our own ceramic mug we'd save so many trees. Right next to the exhibit was the cafeteria and they had coffee and a choice, paper or ceramic mugs (you couldn't take any food/drinks outside in to the museum. So, you guessed it, everyone was using the paper cups and I was like Did you not learn anything from the exhibit??!? Do you need to go back through it again?!?! Use the fucking ceramic mug!! I had to gulp my coffee and leave before I caused a scene.


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