We'd worked together in Wakefield in the days when it was acceptable for cafes to sell instant coffee (makes spitting sound). I'm not dissing Wakefield, it's the Merry City, but when the first 'proper' coffee shop opened in the Ridings Shopping Centre in the mid-90s, anyone requesting an espresso was asked by the serious-looking barrista, if they realised that an espersso was a 'Small Cup of VERY Strong Coffee'. Yes, thank you, we did know and yes please, that's what we wanted.He apologied and said he'd had a lot of complaints from people who had returned their 'express-o', asking where the rest of it had gone.
Our first big purchase together was a state-of-the-art Gaggia, with a pressure setting that went up to 11. It was wildly expensive and we drew up contingency plans for evacuating if there was a fire in our upstairs flat. It involved inflatable airbags thrown from the window and a series of pulllies to make sure it reached the ground safely. We may not have had any furniture, but by gum we had great coffee.
I'm now writing this from my Horsforth office, where the splendid Costa Coffee provide free wi fi and magnificent coffee. Today's was particularly good and, as someone who'll send back a poor espresso at the drop of a hat, I told Howard the Barrista that he had indeed produced a work of art. Smooth, silky coffee. Now there's nothing better in coffee terms than a coffee enthusiast making your coffee. Howard has an award for his coffee-making. He drew my attention to a new offering, the Flat White – maybe not the best of names – it does sound a bit like a fish and with its fancy feather pattern on the froth also looked like one, but was, he said, something special.
The technical specification for the Flat White measures the seconds of blasting through the espresso holes and the temperature of the milk. Same coffee, different treatment and different taste. Honest! It'll be Flat Whites for me from now on, good on you, Howard!
It turns out Howard is such a professional he came in on his day off to make sure the launch of the new Flatfish coffee went smoothly. Now there's a real coffee-lover!