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Back Buzz - November 8, 1999

[pumping heart] Whittard Coffees, 23 High Street, Canterbury, Kent

I suppose it would seem only natural to journey to Canterbury in search of decent coffee. The trendy jewel of the eastern half of Kent, Canterbury boasts not only a cathedral dripping -- and entombed -- with history but also a pedestrian zone which would make any shopping-addicted tourist salivate. And after an exhausting morning snapping all those photos or brandishing those credit cards, one can be desperate for the simple reward of a coffee/tea break.

Whittard's Canterbury coffeehouse, located on the corner of High Street and Best Lane across from the post office and smack dab in the middle of the pedestrian zone, is teamed with a Häagen Dazs ice cream shop. Actually the place is nothing more than an ice cream shop that sells coffee beans and drinks, but it does offer a patio out front to sit and sip and/or slurp while watching the throngs of passersby.

Our single macchiatos were served in paper Häagen Dazs cups. Although they were way too hot, the shots were strong and of a nice texture and extremely smooth. Perhaps they were a bit too smooth for my taste: a perfect coffee for ice cream coffee drinkers, it would seem. While at the coffeehouse I purchased a half pound of their Café Français beans (125 grams for £2.00), a smooth but strong Continental blend which yielded a nice batch of equally pleasant, extremely smooth cups of cafetiére coffee.

Whittard of Chelsea are based in London on Kings Road. According to their literature, many of their coffee beans are purchased directly from coffee estates in Costa Rica, and this directly supports the local economy. Over twenty different coffee selections are offered, from the robust After Dinner Blend to the mellow Blue Mountain Jamaica. According to their web page there are well over 20 Whittard coffee shops in London and dozens more all over England, not to mention shops in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Singapore, with shops opening soon in Bahrain and Kuwait.

As we sat outside on the sunny patio of Whittard's we watched the hoards of tourists bustle by intersecting with a constant flurry of local business people, many stopping for a brief cappuccino or ice cream break on their way to who knows what. I even saw a couple of business-minded tourists with their fleece sweaters tied around their necks. This brought to mind a couple of e-mail dialogues with my Chicago friend from a couple years ago, first one about yuppies:

You often see yuppies on weekends with sweaters or long-sleeved shirts tied around their necks by the sleeves.

How come you never see any yuppies with their pants tied around their necks? Or am I just hanging out in the wrong places?

These people are under a common late 20th century conception that if they cover their neck regions, especially with a soft and warm blanket-like clothing item, that this will provide protective coating for the chakra encompassing that region of their bodies, a chakra which is the reservoir for their most primal fears and drives. To use a local reference, that would be like trying to plug up Snoqualmie Falls with a layer of deodorant.

As for tying pants around their neck: yes, you are hanging out in the wrong places. This I cannot help you with.

. . . and then another about white businessmen:

One thing I've learned is there sure are a lot of white men in the world...have you ever noticed?

Yes, there are a lot of white men in the world. There are an awful lot of white men in suits and ties, too. And there are one hell of a lot of white men in suits and ties being paid way too much money while the rest of the population of the earth scrimps and slaves and starves and begs and grovels and festers. (Sounds like the 6 Dwarves: Scrimpy, Slavey, Starvy, Beggy, Grovel, and Fester!)

So the question is, should we overthrow the government and bring the bourgeois class to its knees while dividing the wealth among the workers of the world? Or should we try to overpay all the black women in the world? Or should we simply ban suits and ties? Perhaps we should retrain all those white men who tie their neckties every morning to tie something more useful, like fishing lures or umbilical cords or macramé plant hangers or...I know! Let's pass a law where anybody wearing a tie also has to wear their hair in dreadlocks.