20 February 2009

Coffee Correction

Not so long ago, in a station all too close and familiar, there used to be a Caffè Nero Express next to the platforms. This was pretty handy because although I never really go to Nero any more and have, in the past, occasionally bitched out their coffee or their staff's competence in the art of coffee-making, of the high street chains, Nero's coffee is probably the most reliably drinkable (once, they even made me a cappuccino (rather than a latte) when I asked for one!).

Of course, the lack of decent coffee at King's Cross only really bothered me when I started passing through there at coffee-requiring hours (like eight a.m.) on a regular basis. OK, so there's some "French" patisserie type place but even the sandwiches look dodgy there so I've never trusted the coffee, and a new "random green/organic goods" place, which I tried last week when I actually arrived at King's Cross with enough time to spare that I could buy a coffee before sprinting through the sea of approximately 17,000 commuters hurrying towards me in the other direction to platform nine. I only risked a macchiato but it wasn't very good--I think they let the water run for too long as it tasted more like an americano with milk than an espresso with a splash of milk and a little foam on top.

After that experience, I thought I would have to give up on ever getting a decent coffee at King's Cross again but then yesterday, I saw an advertisement for the opening of a new Caffè Nero Express at KC because--guess what?--they make quite a lot of money at a busy station like KC. Perhaps Nero finally read the chapter about "express" concessions of coffee shops at busy stations in Tim Harford's Undercover Economist and realised the error of their ways. I don't have my copy of the book with me and I can't remember if he actually talked about KC (I seem to remember that the Nero used to be an AMT, which is even better than Nero and whose replacement by Nero annoyed me immensely at the time) but he could well have done.

The only problem now is that I will have to force myself to get up five or ten minutes earlier so that I have time to grab a second coffee at the station before rushing for the train. On the morning where I risked the random macchiato, even though the coffee tasted crap, I felt so much more awake--almost human even--by the time I made it to the office compared to usual (when my second cup tends to be filter coffee at the earliest time I can extricate myself from my inbox--so, about 11.30, usually).

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