Cracking coffee culture

Coffee houses are making a contribution to the cultural life of Scarborough while providing a great cuppa.
Coffee houses are making a contribution to the cultural life of Scarborough while providing a great cuppa.
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Despite the aversion of many to things European, the British have progressively realised that sometimes they do it better elsewhere.

There are many examples that have been adopted, almost unconsciously, into our way of life.

Does anyone now sleep beneath a pile of blankets as I did as a child?

No one any longer thinks “continental quilt” as they pull up the duvet.

Where would our town centres be without Italian restaurants?

Further, despite the fall in sales of lagers (there is a return to ales), the continental light beer, served cold, is still our number one alcoholic choice.

The latest manifestation, though you may not have noticed it, is the growth of coffee culture in our town centres.

Once, when you asked for a coffee in a café you would be served a cup of instant.

Frequently powdered, it looked and tasted like mud.

Consumer-led demand, fuelled by people who have experienced that great opener of minds – the foreign holiday – saw the sudden expansion of places to pause and take refreshment.

The big chains, starting in 1970s Seattle with Starbucks, led the way, but it is the small independents that are the surprise growth area for Scarborough businesses.

Suddenly, the British, who have always denied any facility with foreign languages, find it quite easy to get their tongues around cappuccino, latte and espresso.

When you add these to tapas, korma and dim sum we suddenly have a substantial vocabulary, unconsciously acquired and used by the general population.

There have been great café cultures in the past: the Parisian in the 19th Century and the Viennese in the 1920s and 30s, where writers were associated with venues like the Café Central or the Café Herrenhof, some even using the café as a postal address.

It may be too much to hope that Scarborough coffee houses could emulate these icons, but I suspect that the likes of Taylor’s, Roasters and Espresso Yourself are making a contribution to the cultural life of Scarborough as well as giving us something decent to drink.