There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly ground coffee to get the pulse racing. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, creating the perfect aroma drifting through a house you’re showing off to sell, or just when the urge takes you, coffee is something we all love to turn to for that little pick-me-up or boost to give the energy levels a lift.
Since the middle of the last decade, our coffee habits have changed from an activity that’s primarily enjoyed behind closed doors, to an out in public display of social interaction. This is illustrated best by the surge in coffee shops opening on the high street, putting those tired cafés that managed to hold on since the eighties out of their misery as they failed to provide the same slick service with minimalist surroundings. The loss of the owners of those outdated businesses was quickly the gain of the Costa Coffee and Starbucks generation, which also put pay to the laddish culture that was the hangover of the Britpop wave of the nineties into a more refined culture for a new generation of twenty somethings.
So, what is it that makes the humble cup of coffee so important and integral to our daily lives?
Quite simply, it gives us the hit we need. Yes, it’s a drug. Yes, we know drugs are bad. Coffee gives us a way to stay alert even on the most tired of days. Ask any parent about going to work the day after the kids have been up all night with a stomach bug, they’ll give you the precise reason that we lean on the caffeine in our hot drinks so heavily. Life demands a lot of focus, and isn’t particularly sympathetic to feeling tired. Busy social lives demand long hours, and thriving careers mean long mornings. It’s hardly surprising that we need a little help to turn our bag of bones into a business boosting machine in the mornings. And we all like to kid ourselves that we work to live, not live to work, don’t we?
Where things have changed is how we expect more from our coffee, and that’s dragged the coffee makers kicking and screaming into our homes, proudly sitting on kitchen work surfaces ready to deliver our beloved caffeine shot. Celebrities including Heston Blumenthal have put their name to entire ranges of pricey kitchen appliances, and the more well known brands of kitchen gadgets have got in on the act too. Delonghi, in particular, have had enormous success with bringing bean grinding to the home market by bringing a beautiful simplicity to making so called ‘posh coffee’ at home.
Everyone’s now able to buy a coffee machine for a few hundred pounds, and be in a position to freshly grind roasted coffee beans on demand, giving a much fuller flavour and aroma than you could ever hope for from a jar of Nescafé, and it wasn’t that long ago that they were the brand to buy if you were anyone important.
So, nothing has changed in that we all still love coffee. It’s just that we now want better coffee – café coffee at home!