“High Coffee”? Highly Stupid!

Something has got up my nose.

Not exactly a new thing, really: Over the years, I’ve endlessly ranted about various things, and this is just the latest. Not the least, not the greatest, just one more way the world has failed to meet my expectations.

I’m talking about “High Coffee”.

Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, some ignorant numpties have started promoting “High Coffee”, a concept that needs to be stamped out.

I shouldn’t have to explain this, but I do. That’s because those folk who are behind this are probably not your earnest, beardy, hemp wearing single origin organic fair trade peaberry straight up espresso crowd, but more the marketing departments of big hotels, such as the Intercontinental chain.

Of course, getting a marketing degree is sometimes seen as a substitute for actually knowing anything about anything, so I’m going to spell out my two main objections.

One, and this is the biggie: “High Tea” historically refers to the meal, not the beverage. At a high tea, champagne, juice, soft drink and dare I say it… coffee… are all acceptable beverages.

I bet the Intercontinental are already feeling like a bunch of ignorant hicks, hey?

So, as much as a lot of the food and culture of a “High Tea” – which is actually usually being used somewhat incorrectly as a synonym for “Afternoon Tea” – is based around tea, it’s not a given. I’d go so far as to say many, many “High Teas” are characterised by the availability of good champagne, reasonable coffee and pretty rubbish tea. (Not ones I’d care to attend, obviously)

So, at this point, the “High Coffee” crowd should pack up and go home, but I’m not going to leave it there. No, I’m going to ramp it up.

Regardless of the above, here’s my message to the “High Coffee” promoters: Why don’t you all just get stuffed?

I mean, really, you’ve got a substantial part of the markets in Australia, the USA, in Europe. You’ve got a beverage with its own folklore, legends and beliefs (such as cappuccinos should be served at a temperature to suit a four-year-old). You’ve got hipsters falling over themselves to pay top dollar for slow dripped Limu and Fair Trade El Salvador Double Roast, and you’ve got great culinary penetration: consider Tiramisu or Coffee and Walnut cake.

But oh, wait: you’ve got to jump on the tea bandwagon. “This High Tea thing looks lucrative, why don’t we just bastardise it? It doesn’t matter if it’s half-arsed, it’s bound to pay.”

For those of you who were alive in the 80s, the music coming out of the UK was incredible. From The Cure, Tears for Fears and Spandau Ballet to Queen, everything was gold. It was the golden age. Then  Stock, Aitken and Waterman turned up with their cookie-cutter production, and music took the biggest hit since Buddy Holly et al went down.

We could have refused to buy SAW productions as a society, but we didn’t, and this soon lead to the biggest album of 1987 being by Jason Donovan. Think about that, because High Coffee is basically “I should be So Lucky” in gastronomic form. It’s nasty. It needs to be buried in a ditch and forgotten.

This is that moment. Let’s not waste it, let’s use it to give the bad ship “High Coffee” and all who sail in her a swift kick up the backside. Let’s make sure they crawl back under the rock from whence they came.

Look I’m not calling for revolution. I’m not calling for the promulgators of this insulting and tacky rubbish to be put against the wall and shot.

But only because I’ve calmed myself with a nice Silver Needle and some sultana cake. Next time, I might not be so forgiving.

No High Coffee

Robert Godden

Certified Tea Nutter. Blender. Author of "The Infusiast" and Tea "Stories"

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