No More Instant

I suppose I should be grateful to Starbucks for one thing: they brought the concept of “brewed coffee” to the U.K., even if it was only their shitty burnt water. Now, of course, you have chains like Costa (excellent) and Caffé Nero (not-so-excellent), but I was struck by the fact quite forcefully when I ordered “filter” (i.e. not instant) coffee at a breakfast kiosk in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station last week, and it was quite acceptable. I was also reminded of that when at lunch at Fortnum’s a couple days back, I ordered an “Americano” (diluted espresso) and was served a lovely cup of coffee. In fact, you can order an Americano just about anywhere — which is a hellacious change over what used to be Instant Coffee Country.

It’s not Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme coffee, but it will certainly do.

And Costa is pretty much ubiquitous — I think there are more of them than Starbucks, which is a relief because their coffee is better and about a third the price of Starbucks’s overpriced shit. Just about every larger gas station has a Costa dispensing machine, which makes traveling less of a caffeine-deprived nightmare, and in the towns, there are generally several Costa outlets.

Sadly, there are no Keurig machines in Britishland that I can see — certainly, none in the houses / apartments where I’ve been staying. Mostly, it’s the Nespresso option which is fine, but Nespresso seems incapable of making coffee that isn’t hair-raisingly strong, which I can only overcome by making two large cups of coffee from a single pod. I miss my trusty Keurig, and my Krispy Kreme Regular.

But it all beats instant.


  1. Amen. The possibility of a real coffee now exists in Tealand. Instant Nescafé and dry chemical cream being the only offering at project sites made me switch to Lipton’s little yellow product. Bad tea is better than bad coffee.

  2. When I was a yoot I always said I didn’t like coffee, because the only coffee my parents drank was instant (either Maxwell House or Sanka), vile swill. Once I discovered actual COFFEE I found I liked it, and when we bought a Keurig a few years ago I knew I’d never sleep again.

  3. The technology exists to get an identical Coca Cola everywhere on earth. Why can’t we do the same with coffee?

    Dunkin is consistent, but it’s not everywhere, of course. And Scarbucks is indeed horrible. It took me a week to figure out how to get a decent coffee in Oz, and what they called “Iced tea” was just not.

  4. One of my friends spent 10 months in Baghdad with the 45th Infantry some years back. I sent him regular care packages and he said that the best item in the box was the pound of Dunkin Donuts coffee. I also enclosed a pound of Starbucks which he brewed and set out to keep people away from his DD. Decoy coffee!

  5. Love Dunkin’s regular roast beans, grind em up and run them through my french press. For true caffeine swill try what passes for covfefe at the autobahn rest areas. some kinda coffee-ish tar diluted with hot water at the time of dispensing. Feh.

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