In my story Dog Nights I mention Salsa Fascists, the people who go to salsa classes and at parties, just as everyone is beginning to loosen up and enjoy themselves, turn off the music to show you how to do the right steps. Exactly.
But this is not about salsa, it’s about coffee, coffee fascists.
Not here, not in this picture. This is Pumphreys the wonderful coffee emporium in Grainger Market, Newcastle. No coffee fascists here.
You may know your own coffee fascists, the ones I am thinking about are back in Leeds. The other day fancying the creamy nourishment of a cappuccino with my breakfast rather than my usual black, and knowing I was in a coffee shop where they served tepid stuff, I asked them to make mine extra hot.
We make all our coffee at a specific temperature.
I know that, I replied, That’s why I’d like you to do mine hot please.
No, it ruins the quality of the coffee, we are not Caffe Nero, we have our standards.
We had a brief discussion about whether the coffee was for them or for me, whether the person who was going to drink the coffee rather than the maker should judge quality, about which was more important, the temperature of the coffee when served or when drunk.
I said, Ah fuck it then and left.
I like coffee, I like good coffee, I particularly like coffee that is still warm at the end a single page of my book, when I have answered the first email or even, please, when the barista brings it over. White wine and ice cream are better cold, not coffee, unless it’s iced. Perfect coffee when it is brewed is no good to me if it is not pretty good a minute or two later. As the poet Helen Mort said to me that afternoon, The one thing that ruins the quality of coffee is it being cold.
I tweeted about the cold coffee and later that day got an email from the shop’s owner saying, “I’m sure we won’t be having to deal with your unfavourable custom again.” I am now barred from a coffee shop, how about that? Luckily there are plenty of other indies in Leeds who, while they may be following tepid fashion, are also quite happy to make a cup of coffee I enjoy drinking.
In my view, tepid is a fad and in ten years we will be laughing, Do you remember when we all sat around drinking cold coffee pretending we liked it, that we were the coolest things, God how I longed for a long hot cup.
Now I am on my way back home from Pumphreys with three bags of gold, Monsooned Malabar, Caribbean Blue Mountain, and Guatemalan Heuheutenango. Pop round I’ll make you some, whatever temperature you like.