I do like a nice cup of coffee and in my last job I would regularly get a latte from the canteen and several filter coffees per day from the communal kitchen in the department. Since I'm not working at the moment, I thought I would investigate some of the coffee shops in the city centre, concentrating on independents and avoiding the big chains.
I sometimes go to Ikea where I can get a free drink using my 'family card'. I often buy a cake or a bar of chocolate (or if I am there during breakfast, a bacon sandwich) and sit and relax for half an hour or so but the coffee is fairly unremarkable and not really strong enough for my liking.
I occasionally walk down Far Gosford Street and most of the time I find myself popping into Windsor's for a take-away coffee. I usually choose either the americano or a latte. They are good value at under £2 and actually taste of coffee. The shop is run by a local charity (The Coventry Cyrenians) who provide assistance to unemployed or homeless people.
For many years I would avoid drinking coffee in cafés because it was rare to get a drinkable cup. Filter coffee would always be too weak and espresso machines weren't very common back then. I would choose a cup of tea instead. These days it is much easier to get a good cup of coffee, although a bad cup of coffee is still fairly common. There are some good independent coffee shops out there, such as Windsor's, and I'll try to make an effort to explore a few of them.
Earlier this week I dug up a load of dandelion roots so I cleaned them and dried them so I could have a go at dandelion coffee. I dug out my copy of Richard Mabey's Food for Free and it was very vague so I looked up a few websites for more info.
In the end I roasted the roots at gas mark 6 until they were dry and crumbly (but they hadn't gone very dark), ground them up in a pestle and mortar and ended up with only 1 tablespoon of bits.
I put the bits in a jug, poured over a cup of boiling water and left it a few minutes before straining into a cup. I think I probably needed more roots because the drink was a bit weak but most noticeably it didn't resemble anything coffee-like at all (I am reminded of Arthur Dent and his cup of something which was "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea").
The flavour was like a cross between unsalted potato crisps and something a bit like parsnips. I'm not sure whether to try again the next time I dig up some roots but my first attempt wasn't great. At least it was better than the cornsilk tea or the hyssop tea, which were my previous attempts at drinks from the garden.
My cup of coffee farted and everyone turned round and stared. I have one of those 'cafetiere' cups which takes filter coffee, and the rubber seal around the filter plunger is getting a bit old and sometimes makes a farty noise. I felt the need to explain to everyone that it was the cup and not me.
The train was ready to leave Birmingham New Street when the announcement came on to say that the departure was cancelled and we all had to go over to platform 1 to board the Bournemouth train. Something to do with a failure with the overhead lines causing other trains to be cancelled or diverted. Anyone travelling to London would have to change at Birmingham International and hope for the best. Thankfully the Bournemouth train stops at Coventry so I was ok.
The train was a bit over crowded with many people standing in the aisle and by the doors. On arrival at International, the London bound people got off and a few other people got on. There was one unfortunate chap who was standing on the platform, arms were full of various bags and holdalls. He was also carrying a cup of coffee which he set down in the doorway of the train as he got his bags ready. Just as he was about to climb aboard the train, the doors closed. He was still there on the platform clutching his luggage as his coffee sped off into the distance.
Recently, a tub of decaf coffee appeared in the kitchen in work. The following day, someone stuck a huge label on the lid announcing it to be 'DECAF'. I imagine it was to avoid a situation like the one below: