Thanks A Latte

Through my life and its various ups and downs there has always been one constant.  This has been my go to guy, my always there, my shoulder to cry onto or in some instances lick viciously.  My constant companion and there isn’t  a hot enough bitch to get in between us.  This is of course, my first love, my true rock, Coffee.  You might laugh, you might even agree but its true.  Part of me is coffee.  Given the amount i drink, that might be literally true, I'm sure my blood stream is partially  coffee, maybe just in the hands or something.  My relationship with coffee goes back to before my teens. Roll dreamy montage. Nescafe generously popped two free samples of there latest instant into the door early on a summers morning, my mother had one of them and i had the other.  Back then of course it was accompanied by its friend full fat 3 teaspoons of sugar. Cut to me 1 hour later banging off the walls full of caffeine convinced i was a donkey who barks at door handles. Needless to say this started a addiction that i have failed to over come willingly to this day.

To some people coffee is just  an aid to wake them up in the morning, or a helping hand to reach the end of the day when a particularly boring spreadsheet needs to be filled in.  To me its passed a thinking process and not even a speck on a habits radar, its a way of life. Every morning without fail she tempts me down with her sexy full body singing  ‘ Come on ray, get up. Get your sexy man lips around this, ohh ya taste that body? Smell that aroma… say my name bitch’.  

First thing you have to know about me. Im a bit of a slut when it comes to coffee.  Don't get me wrong i have my favourites who doesn’t? I will frequent these favourites on a daily bases but i do like to get around and try out other more exotic ones, maybe with an accent who knows.  The same goes for coffee shops, i have my favourites but i love trying new ones. On the flip side i have my lest favourites. Cut to me giving daggers to the nearest costa coffee. It is here i will admit to having a dirty on going relationship with the coffee shop monster that is Starbucks. What can i say, i love it and i don't care who knows it.  This relationship has its ups and downs but i still return on a daily bases.  Lets talk about some of the more sorrowful moments of our on going relationship. 

Tiny suitcase

Back when i lived in Dublin i first developed my Coffee to go habit with Starbucks.  This in part was due to the fact there was no Starbucks in Cork. (Apart from the Airport - more on that later).  Sinead the best friend was up for the weekend to visit.  It is important to point out now that Sinead my is match when it comes to coffee addiction.  After a trip around the shops on a saturday evening for that nights outfits, we rushed into the Starbucks in Dame street to grab a quick coffee before heading home on the bus.  As we waited patiently for the giant cups of joe to be made the crowd around us grew with tourist and there compact travelling bags.  When our drinks were ready, they were put on top of the counter. At the same time, this rude women kicked her suitcase mistakenly into my foot, which started to knock it over, as i went to steady her bag, my coffee cup was knocked into air and proceeded to shower me in steaming hot coffee all over my crotch area.  Yes, it did fecking hurt. I hurt like hell, my whole pants region was socked with burning hot coffee. What did the staff do i hear you ask?  Nothing he looked at me with a stupid shrug of his shoulders and said ‘ oh you will have to buy a new one’ . What fantastic customer service you asshole, excuse me while i i remove a layer of skin its burnt off. 

The return journey home was not good. Sinead was shaking with laughter at my big wet pants that made it seem as though i had throughly pissed myself.  She was also enjoying her coffee shamelessly while i too annoyed to buy a replacement, used our shopping bags to hide my shameful pants from public view. Some youths on the bus did notice, and did begin to talk about ‘ see the boy who pissed himself?’ as i passed.

There are other coffee shops you know

One of my favourite past times about travelling when living in cork, was the trip to the airport. This was part shockingly due to the fact that Cork airport had a Starbucks. Myself and Sinead would turn up a hour early just to enjoy a quality Latte for myself and Cappuccino for herself before jetting off. Sadder still this was before even checking in, as the Starbucks was not inside the departure lounge.  Sadder even again was the fact that we would sit at the Starbucks for a coffee when coming home again before making our journeys home no matter how hectic the journey was, or the time of night.  It was on one journey home that we encountered the sad news that Starbucks had the bloody cheek to pull out of cork Airport. I know i know, terrible news. They erected some shanty town coffee shop in front of the boarded up stand. So shocked at this news, i inadvertently said it aloud to the barista working at the new coffee stand. She then in a irritated tone, replied ‘ you know there are other coffee shops, it might be good to give someone else a chance’.  I shot this bitch down with a, it was just a question. Also that coffee, she wanted me to give a try tasted like shit.  The moral of this story is i no longer can enjoy a decent cup of coffee at Cork Airport. The coffee inside the departure lounge is from a machine and tastes like cheese water with gone off milk.

OHHH na na, say my name

Besides these horror stories, i still love them, even if I'm just a loan bean in the bag.  I distinctly remember when the ‘name on the cup’ ‘lets make it personal’ campaign started, as i was shocked when the guy asked me my name at the coffee counter. Convinced he was flirting i smiled shyly twirled my hair in my finger, sucked on my lolly pop seductively and said ‘ he he , Ray he he’.   Of course then i realise it was due to the demand of coffee and the coffee snatchers out there, they needed to distinguish peoples orders.  Speaking of these coffee, snatchers i have had many a experience of these fellows. Feckers. ‘Oh i think thats my latte in your hand’   myself ‘ really do you?  Thats funny because i distinctly remember you being behind me in the queue, so i am at a loss to see how your coffee would be done before mind, and is your name Ray too? I don't think so you little shite… oh stop your crying little kid - I'm sorry lady but your little girl started the fight first this is my coffee and no one else’s here’. I turn to see the name ‘Bella’ written on the cup. Bollox. 

Aside from the first time they wrote my name on the side of my cup i don't think Starbucks has ever gotten my name right. This is to the point where i find it a bit of a joke now and mis pronounce and whisper my name, just to see what new abomination they come up with.  I have been called Grey, Mr grey, Greg, Grog, Ga, and even once gay, for this one, i think he just took a guess of my sexual orientation. I don't know how he guessed it right. Might of been the wedding dress i was wearing that day.  At the start i used to get annoyed and try my best to help them its Ray RRRRRR AAAA YYYYY . RRRRRRR with a RRRRR. But now i leave it be.  This coincidentally brought forth the fact my accent when saying my name, can be misconstrued.  When introducing myself to my Australian housemate back in the day, I'm I'm Ray, she thought i said Riey and never stops reminding me. 

Grey as per usual 
Goay - a new one but a good one

Craig - erm ok

Second times a charm

GREI - nice attempt i suppose

say my name

Thanks a Latte

Back in the days where we had nothing better to do, myself and Sinead would boot around in her old Fiesta (may she rest in peace).  The drive through McDonalds in Douglas was a pit stop of ours. On one over active night pumped up from the burgers and the various E numbers they contained we decide to go through the drive through a second time and pick up a coffee to go ( as you do at 11 at night).  We wanted to pick up the coffee and drive away with Quick ‘Thanks a Latte’ which at the time we thought was hilarious.  Ok.  Fine.  I still find that hilarious. By the time we handed over the money and Sinead tried to get the car in Drive, we muffled a muted Thanks a Latte a little to late as the guy had already left the window and we - in Sinead's efforts to give us a quick getaway had jump started the car and darted about a mile in front of the window.  Even if we managed to stay put while saying it out loud i doubt he would of understood us from the convulsions of laughter any time each of the us tried to say it. 

We are coffee People

I am a open person.  I like to think i accept all sorts. You have to in this day and age, it makes your life more interesting to be surround by unique people. However, i don’t get people that don’t drink coffee. Why not? Don't enjoy heaven in a cup? I suppose you enjoy kicking puppies to don’t you, you big bastard.  If your allergic - ok i get it, and i feel sorry for you. See that person there?  Yes the girl over the road Mary? Oh yes of course i do know Mary, she has a really fulfilling job, helping the homeless, i heard she got married last year, and was voted the loveliest girl 2013, in the lovely girl competition last year. I know, but did you know she is allergic to coffee? Poor bastard, some people have such bad luck.  When i first met Bridget, she was a ‘Green Tea’ drinker. That was fine, i let her drink her green tea while i soaked up my 5th coffee of the day, but over time i would start to offer her a cup. Maybe buy her one when we passed a Starbucks. Oh you should try a ‘Carmel Latte bridge’. It was a slow winding road down into coffee whore house from there on.  Now a days when people go ‘ Bridget, would you like a cup of Green tea?’. She will get up, walk over slowly to there face. Smack them straight across both cheeks. Then say ‘No thanks, make mine a Cappuccino you silly bitch.  She then kisses them on the cheek once. Just to let them know who is boss. 

 More then anything, having a coffee gives you an ample of opportunities to sit around various coffee shops chatting away for hours instead of doing something productive.  Of course the time spent in the coffee shop comes down to the chair options in said coffee shop.  Couches and arm chairs, will have you sitting there for hours where as stiff backed chairs have you asking for the coffee to go. Its social for god sake.  Nothing will get me to a charity event, art gallery opening, school open day, nursing home openings faster then the blessed caption ‘ Followed by tea and coffee.  I find you can also judge a area by the coffee shops located there. For instance, up the road from me, there is a Costa coffee. Down the road from me, there is a costa coffee. Therefore my area is middle glass with a touch of ruff. ( FYI i hate costa, i find there coffee too hot and too strong, once a flight was delayed and i was offered a voucher to use in a coffee shop, can you imagine my disappointment when i realised it was Costa?). If you are luckily enough to have a Starbucks in your area, consider it a urban up and coming, full of commuters and yummy mummies.  Has anyone been to the Starbucks in Palmers green on a sunday morning? Its like a bloody kiddy disco. 

Before i complete any task, before i even go shopping, i will always hit up a coffee shop. This is to many peoples annoyance as i make it a must before i can even consider doing anything else. Especially when hung over.  Luckily i usually do these things with my friends and they tend to be the same as me some of you out out there  are not.  Many a time, i will inside on going for a coffee before doing something more mundane and end up staying in the coffee shop for 2 hours chatting away avoiding what ever task was supposed to be next on the list.   I do tend to get a lot of writing down in cafes, but mostly i do this at home or on trains.  Before in a Starbucks on Oxford circus there was a guy trying to get his little travel printer plugged in somewhere so he could print off some of his work. Why he had to do this in Starbucks you might ask? Because he is a tosser is the answer.  One day i will own my own cafe and not allowed such idiots inside.  Anyone want to give me a cafe to run, i bet i could do it really well.  Cut to scene. Candles on every table flickering, there is a soft mellow music building up on a the sound system. The light outside is dark, as the night grows long. There are flower petals all over the floor from the entrance to behind the counter. You walk the flowery path to see naked feet sticking awkwardly out of the counter. You lean over just as the glorious words ' lets get it on.... ahhhhhhhh ya, lets get it on' burst out of the speakers and your sensors are over loaded by the images, sounds and scents you experience in one burst. Me.  Naked.  Rolling around the floor with a big bag of coffee beans.  

Top 4 Coffee Destinations 

So heres the important information for you. My favourite coffee shops.  I can be very selective so will only list 4 and to keep it far, i will include ones in both London and Cork as this is where i get my coffee kicks most.  I shall admit now, Cork has the win on this one, but then again i have spent longer there.  I should point out now.  the list will not contain Starbucks.  As much as love and frequent it daily, it is not one of my top 4  favourites but it does reside in the top 5 ( to give Starbucks its credit, my favourite ones to frequent are Victoria station, The one inside Newlook Located on Oxford Street. The one right outside the Tate Modern.) Back to the list.

1) Tinderbox  

Angel London ( Very rich latte, they also specialist in coffee art and draw leafs on the foam.  They even have a score board of the staff and who does the best Leaf art. My favourite Drink here is my Standard Latte, but let me make it clear, there's nothing standard about it, its very smooth rich latte full of flavour.  There location in Angel is upstairs in the outdoor shopping centre. The layout is very cool. there are tiered seating and under coven boots with people sitting on bench above these covens. 

2) Cafe Depeche 

Located in  Cork (Not sure) - Formally located on Northmain street, this coffee shop was a stop off on the way home each trip for myself and Sinead. However they have since turned into a subway.  They did have a second location of Washington street so i am hopeful they still are located there, if not rest in peace Humphrey. My Favourite drink here used to me a Mint Aero mocha, i don't know if they still do them there, but they were heaven in a cup. There Quirky cup designs were always of great interest to me also with the flowery pattern given them a distinctly different look. There Latte is always a good strong contender. 

3) O’ Conaills Chocolate Shop

Located in Cork Primarily a chocolate shop who create there own amazingly tastily chocolate treats. For this reason, there Mocha is amazing, as its made from there own chocolate and comes with a side of small chocolate portions to add to your coffee as you go along. Always worth a visit for when i get home.  Its a Mocha for me almost every time i have been here. There speciality is chocolate so to get a coffee that takes there speciality to its side and mixes it in seems like the only sensible thing to do here.  The layout even has a communal table downstairs which offers the change for a big group meeting, if you can secure it. the place is always busy. 

4) Gloria Jeans

Located, all over cork city. Enough said. I love Gloria jeans especially as they combine coffee creations that no one else's has thought off and add out rages prices to match. There sweet combinations of caramel mocha latte is to die for. Literally you go into a sugar coma after one of those bad boys.  My Favourite drink here is a Mocha Carmel Latte please, each and every time. There are scattered all over cork city. The one located inside the Savoy has recently ( recently to me) had additional seating added which makes it my favourite choice. The Other Gloria jeans on Patrick Street, has a upstairs window seat which allows you to look out over Corks Busiest street, that was always a favourite for me and my friends when we were younger. 

Il Bring the Shovel

If ever you are in any of the locations describe above and have a taste for caffeine i can only strongly urge you to frequent one of my top 4 Locations.  So there you have it. My weakness is the caffeine monster. If you ever need me on your side, a quick favour, help getting rid of a body no questions asked. You certainly know how to win me over. For everyones information, there are some great hampers that both O’Conaills and Gloria Jeans design for christmas that i would just love. Just tell me where and when and il bring the shovel. 

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