Picture this. You walk into a pub, pay some money and are then told to wait until your drink is ready. But that’s not the way it works…

The paying bit comes at the end of the process, after you’ve watched your drink being poured and just ahead of the first sip being taken.

Yet this is the way of the world for coffee-lovers. Normally, the more expensive the coffee (the indies are among the worst in this respect), the longer you should expect to wait.

“For the most part we seem happy to put up with this state of affairs, and significantly slow service does seem to be part of the deal”

So you wanted a mocha instead of a black Americano? That’ll be longer, and expect to see bits of metal being banged together by ultra-focused ‘baristas’. This, after all, is art, not the business of providing a warm beverage.

Yet for the most part we seem happy to put up with this state of affairs, and significantly slow service does seem to be part of the deal.

The marvel is that we’ve yet to witness a cappuccinobot, one that will make a coffee with the same attention to detail, just faster.

Given the fact that state-of-the-art coffee-makers seem to slow the process down even more, it seems a bit curious in these days when ease and speed are the watchwords for most retailers.

The slow life

The questions must be: how do they get away with it; and wouldn’t it be good if the queues that you see in a fashionable coffee spot with lack of fuss could be replicated in other retail arenas?

“Somehow we are accustomed to a two-speed coffee economy: dead slow and stop”

In truth we’ve been sold a bit of a pup. Buying a coffee should be like anything else and service should indeed mean speed, but somehow we are accustomed to a two-speed coffee economy: dead slow and stop.

A prediction was made last week that at current rates, by 2030 there will be more coffee shops than pubs. This may be so and perhaps there may just be some kind of halo effect where the idea of slow service is somehow transitioned into grocery or fashion shopping.

It’s a pretty big ask, and while there will always be those who hanker after the way things used to be, expectations as regards slow service are not likely to form any part of this.

And perversely, buying a coffee in a pub usually means you get your drink more quickly than in a café. Beware of men bearing beans and wearing fashionable aprons.