Saturday, 30 June 2012

Mine's a Grande Espresso Frap, no cream please

I first came across the coffee giant on a visit to New York in May 1999. The weather was unseasonably warm and I remember walking into the air conditioned coffee house and being bombarded by the choice.

Ordering for the first time can be quite intimidating. There are many options and everyone else seems to be a master at it. There is the type of coffee, the size, optional extras, take in or take out and then you have to even remember your name so that the barista can scribble something that barely resembles your name on the side of the cup. After paying you then have to wait until the coffee you ordered arrives hoping that you will remember what you ordered and that the server shouts a name that you can at least recognise as yours.

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That May New York day I chose a grande (I think that is a medium) espresso frappuchino. As we walked along Broadway I drank this drink. I have to confess that I loved it - it was iced coffee with a difference, a grown up slush puppy. Do adults drink slush puppies? I haven't had one since...well I can't remember and why is raspberry a blue colour? It was sweet, cold and strong with a caffeine kick that made me dizzy and my heart race. If I wasn't already a caffeine addict then that drink made sure of it. It was a long time until my pulse returned to normal and the shaking subsided. In fact only one other time has a coffee had that effect on me and that was an espresso in a cafe in the middle of Bayeux market.

Before returning from the Big Apple I had a couple more of these and I found myself missing them when I returned home, I might have even had withdrawal symptoms on the flight home. I distinctly remember trying to recreate the drink in the blender in my kitchen but to no avail.

What I hadn't realised was that the American company had just come to the UK and was starting to open its shops, this was great as the frapp could become part of my life, but the first UK ones I tried just didn't seem to have the same kick. I think I was suffering from the same phenomenon that occurs when you bring back local alcohol from holiday. That banana liqueur is never as nice watching EastEnders as it is sitting looking out across the med at a Greek sunset - actually it's not that nice even then if I am honest.



Then, a few years ago, a store opened up in my home town and I found the espresso frapp becoming a weekly feature of my life. I even regularly met a friend to share the experience. Each week we sampled the different types but the espresso frap remained my favourite.

Now my hometown contains all the big coffee shops chains, in fact if you want a coffee you probably don't have to walk more than 100 metres before you find an establishment that can provide you with a caffeine rush. However, for me nothing beats that ice cold frap.

And now I am one of those people who know exactly what I want and can order confidently even anticipating the questions, no cream thank you.

Now all I need to do is master the choices in Subway and my conversion to the dark side will be complete.

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