British Coffee Culture and a Confession

Occasionally, I enjoy the odd cup of decaffinated coffee.

I have a confession: sometimes (often) I drink decaf coffee. Not only that, but it’s usually instant decaffinated coffee. Yes, I know, it really is the worst case scenario, but I just love coffee so much that I want to be able to enjoy it in the afternoons and evenings without staying up into the wee hours of the morning.

Coffee culture in Britain, when compared to that in America, is still a relatively new fangled thing. In my experience, the average person in Britian still drinks instant coffee at home instead of filtered, or press-pot coffee. It makes sense, really. Electric kettles are a staple in the British home because they can boil water very quickly (no one has the patience to wait for thier afternoon cuppa). If you’ve already got a kettle taking up precious real estate in your kitchen, you probably don’t want to fuss with a coffee maker, too. Or, if you’re like me, you despise oily, gritty press-pot coffee. Whatever the reason, the go-to coffee in this country still seems to be instant.

Taylor Street Baristas serve up the best lattes in Richmond.

So I begrudgingly went along with this for the first two years I lived here. Coffee makers aren’t particularly cheap, and there weren’t too many places selling decent coffee beans. Then I discovered a little slice of coffee heaven in Richmond: Taylor Street Baristas. Taylor Street are a small, independent chain of coffee shops with only a handful of locations in London; how we managed to get one in Richmond is beyond me, but I’m so glad it’s here. These guys know espresso, and they know coffee. You can safely walk into Taylor Street and order anything off their coffee menu, and it is guaranteed to be delicious. Taylor Street played a massive role saving me from instant coffee drudgery.

I started thinking about how I could enjoy better coffee at home. I discovered a local shop that roasted coffee in store and sold coffee making accessories. I stopped in and stocked up on supplies: a pour-over cone (think of this as the bare-bones part where you put your filter in a coffee maker), filters, a hand grinder, and some coffee beans. My love of good coffee was instantly restored. When I was in that neighborhood, I’d stop by to replenish my stock of beans, otherwise, I relied on the grocery stores in Richmond.

There was a problem with my rekindled passion for coffee, however: I craved more coffee, more of the time. Drinking copious amounts of caffeine into the later hours of the day isn’t a wise decision for anyone wishing to get sleep, and I most definitely need all the sleep I can get. So I browsed and browsed the selection of coffees at the grocery stores, but was unable to find a non-instant decaffinated alternative. So there I was, looking at all the coffees in the aisle, and the one I finally settled on was instant; I came full-circle in my British coffee drinking experience.

Do you have any coffee horror stories from travels abroad? Where have you had the best cup of coffee? Tell me in the comments!