Ice Cream Ireland

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Coffee Rant Number Three

Take away coffee  I’m afraid I was making coffees for most of the day, and hence I feel another coffee rant coming on. I’ll limit it to two points.

1. Even before Starbucks made its inevitable entrance into Ireland, many cafes have tended to look more toward Seattle than Rome for a model. What Starbucks sell, in my opinion, is a feeling of validation about being busy, and that fits in well with the new Ireland. In other words, “I am so busy, I need a coffee THIS big to keep me going.” We’ve recently bowed to customer pressure and increased the size of our take-away cups on our lattes, and sizes seem to be increasing rapidly all around us. The entire definition of a cappuccino or latte is rapidly changing away from the Italian model, and I think that’s a bit of a shame. Is bigger always better? I always liked that little cup at an Italian street-side cafe…

2. Why do people order take-away espressos? I’m happy to serve anything to-go, but where are you going to take 1 oz of espresso? How far are you going to get? Will it not be cold before you get there? Wouldn’t you rather have it in a warmed cup, down it in a few seconds (after all, it is called “Espresso” i.e. “fast”), and be on your way?

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10 Responses to “Coffee Rant Number Three”

  1. July 12th, 2006 at 9:58 am

    Conor says:

    Am I right in thinking that the chain places like O’Briens, Costa etc just add more milk when you order a big latte? I’ve had some pretty gross ones travelling recently. I now stick to the smaller ones so I get something that tastes of coffee not just cow.

  2. July 12th, 2006 at 10:51 am

    JR says:

    I agree that Irish coffee chains have taken the Seattle direction, but before that happened the Italian alternative wasn’t available – it was instant all the way. (Though I remember being pleasantly surprised a few years ago in a pub opposite the departure point for the Skellig islands – the pub didn’t have a coffee machine but used those Rombauts drip-coffee contraptions.)

    I’ve always liked Starbucks – but only for ‘coffee flavoured drinks’, etc., not for actual coffee. Their frappuchinos, caramel lattes and the like bear scant resemblance to coffee, but make a nice alternative to dessert on occasion. They are still too expensive, and unfortunately seem unlikely to be pressured in to lowering prices in light of regional competition. Instead, local shops will probably just raise prices.

  3. July 12th, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Kieran says:

    I actually don’t know what those companies do. For us, a large latte has a double shot of espresso and more milk. However, when we increased the size of our small and large lattes, it was a case of adding more milk, not more coffee, and yes, it does make it more milky…

    Thanks, JR, for leaving a comment. I remember those days of instant coffee well! Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed with how quickly it’s all come here, but I just think it’s a shame that all the emphasis is on matching Starbucks instead of looking toward Italy. As for price, Starbucks was always expensive in the US, and they proved that people will pay for coffee if they see added value – in their case bigger size and consistency. We’ve always been very expensive and sell a mountain of coffee, but we work very hard to deliver a good product. One can only hope that places that raise their prices and not their quality will be weeded out by market forces…

  4. July 12th, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Colm says:

    Does the secret “short cappuccino” really exist in Starbucks? Or would they laugh if I asked for one.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2133754/

  5. July 12th, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    copernicus says:

    Totally agree. I rarely get coffee in the kinds of places that sell it by the bucket, but when I do I’m always shocked that their smallest cup is big enough for me to stick my head in.

    Starbucks sucks by the way. I’ve been in twice. Once in London about 7 years ago – yuck – and once recently in Dublin – yuck part 2 -, the second time only because there was nowhere else open nearby. I deserved what I got for breaking my vow.

  6. July 12th, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Kieran says:

    Given that their smallest size is “tall,” you might get a bit of a laugh all right!

    And Copernicus, you said it, not me!

  7. July 13th, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    copernicus says:

    Indeed. I’m sure you have nothing but big love for the Seattle behemoth.

    I love coffee, but for me its something you dose your senses with with a certain amount of care and attention. I want to experience a short, sweet, slighty acrid and strong taste sensation before moving on with the rest of my day, not spend the afternoon waddling around the city with a distended belly full of sloshing brackish liquid, darting in and out of every second pub in search of a pristine porcelain bowl and blessed relief for an angry bladder.

    But that’s just me.

  8. July 13th, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    Kieran says:

    Very well stated!

  9. August 22nd, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    John says:

    It’s silly to even carry the espresso out the door of the shop, but I imagine the people aren’t so much wanting to take their espresso away as expressing their desire to not sit down, wait longer, pay more and have to leave a tip (as the non take-away option so often means).

    Was in your shop in Dingle a while back and had some delicious ice-cream. Hadn’t realised you had this blog, but you’ve some great content here.

  10. August 22nd, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    Kieran says:

    Good points, and thanks for the compliment on the ice cream…

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Kieran Murphy is a director of Murphys Ice Cream living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream has shops in Dingle, Killarney and Dublin 2 (Wicklow Street).