Thursday, 28 February 2013

Toffee and Key.

Mr Strong & Little Miss Giggles, Naughty, Sunshine; My family.

Let's say you had a tough night. You worked until 2am and had to deal with drunk people; their slurs, their spilled drinks and their sick. Your drunk friends all jumped on you on the dancefloor, taking the piss as you mopped up a spillage. That one guy wouldn't listen when you said "step away from the bar, please". Sports teams were chanting, sports teams were shouting, sports teams were yelling. People were pushing their luck. Radio calls came in from all directions. Member of staff to the First Aid room. Member of staff to the exit. Member of clean up to the dancefloor. Member of clean up to the level 1 toilets. Member of clean up to the main bar. By 1:30am, that last straggler waiting for a taxi was your worst enemy. All you could think of was your bed. You finally climbed in, knowing full well that your alarm was going to go off in 5 short dark hours; full day of lectures tomorrow.

"Large latte with skimmed milk please, m'dear."
Nothing compares to that first sip. The smell, the taste, the warmth; it's pick-me-up perfection in a mug. All the mutterings in your head quieten, the darkness lifts and the tiredness is banished. Bless baristas everywhere.

When did I start liking, and more importantly depending on, the sweet student life force that is coffee? I remember when I was younger (and by that I mean up until about a year ago) I loved the smell but loathed the taste; "too strong, ughhh!" I'd wail whenever my mum offered me a sip of hers.
   I found coffee was just too much, and tea was simply too boring. Now I'm on two cups a day (since I don't trust myself to make my own, usually from a coffee shop in town or more often the Student Union as it's convenient and packs a yummy punch) of the former, and I have a newfound love and fascination with the latter. I currently have Twinings English Breakfast and Clipper Pure Green in my kitchen cupboard, and two boxes of delicious Yogi Tea sitting next to my bed - Yogi, my new obsession following the most shocking revelation that tea doesn't have to be brown and milky! How had I survived this long without the beautiful taste of organic Cinnamon Spice tea, or ginger with orange peel and vanilla?! What was it that used to get me through assignments and accompanied my TV catch-ups once a week? Tea is what was missing from my bedside table, and coffee is what was missing from my desk in lectures.

The other day, I was in London visiting an old and perfect friend; we popped into Starbucks shortly after meeting, and then later on we ducked into Caffe Nero. Unlike many people my age, Starbucks is not my favourite place to go for coffee. I'm not passionately against them per se, I just don't get such a happy thrill when I order my personal favourites in there, whereas Nero or Costa always put a smile on my face. I do love that Starbucks ask for your name on a takeaway cup, though, and they always manage to get it wrong...
   My bestie Rikki drinks mochas, and his favourite is a white chocolate mocha with a shot of peppermint. Only Starbucks offer this unique concoction, so sometimes if I'm really stuck (and missing Rikki), I'll order that. So, the other day in London, I was walking around Covent Garden with a Rikki Special.
   Caffe Nero are my latte specialists. I'm a vanilla latte gal all the way, but I heard about soy Chai lattes from my mum, and this yummy cinnamon beauty is a serious contender for the top spot. I love Nero; lattes in general are my weakness, and they make them just right.
   My friend in London sat down next to me with his hot chocolate with cream, and proclaimed: "you can tell you're an actress."
   "How so?"
   "You have an order."
So there we go. I have now progressed to the level of Coffee Lover that warrants my own personal coffee order. Crazy.

I often think about the first time I tried coffee for real; I was sitting in Miss Finch's classroom, the legendary Room 38, with some of my high school besties at break time and being the supremely cool teacher Finchy was, she always offered us a sachet of cheap caramel latte in a polystyrene cup. She'd brew 'em with the kettle and extensive hot drink paraphernalia behind her desk, and we'd all sit and gossip until the bell rang. The Coffee Club. When I left school, Finchy cut out the front of the caramel packet and stuck it in my Leavers' Book to accompany her sweet notes and anecdotes. I loved those times, and besides the minor panic attack and severe shakes I got one day in my Geography mock exam after having three lattes and no food at lunch time, I think the coffee did me good.

First sign of growing up: having a coffee order and boxes of special organic tea beside your bed.

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