My friends and colleagues alike know that I’m a huge advocate of one particular high street coffee shop. Although I always choose artisan coffee shops where I can, there are certain times when grabbing an Aereopress coffee from an independent is just not an option. The high street offers a variety of chains to choose from with coffee selections varying from bog-standard cappuccinos to skinny-one-shot-soya-lattes with gingerbread syrup. Although it sounds like you are getting good value for money and a wide choice of available drinks from many high street outlets, the reality is that the offerings are often similar in taste and presentation. Starbucks axed the Cappuccino in 2015 in favour of the Flat White, a decision fuelled by the difficulty associated with making a truly high quality Cappuccino. The nutritional content of some of the more outlandish syrup laden caffeinated concoctions should also be called into question.
Do not despair, there is hope! High street coffee shops have started to acknowledge the growing coffee market in Britain by introducing new ‘seasonal’ blends alongside their house blends. Costa Coffee and Starbucks have a milder and stronger blend to choose from when you purchase a coffee from any of their main outlets. However, it is perhaps indicative of Costa Coffee’s priority that the page advertising the Old Paradise Street blend is still stuck on September 2015’s ‘Number 9’ blend (information correct 14/04/2017). To my knowledge, there have been at least four subsequent additions to the range. Starbucks offer similar alternatives alongside their house blend; when I regularly frequented their outlet on Oxford Road in Manchester they had at least two available blends to choose from at any one time. Starbucks also proudly acknowledge that all of their coffees are made from 100% Arabica beans whilst Costa use a mix of both Arabica and Robusta. For a quick comparison of the differences between Arabica and Robusta beans check this out! The mass coffee market is, noticeably, moving forwards in finding good quality, sustainable farmed coffee.
One particular high street shop has caught my attention, Pret a Manger offer good value for money where your cup of coffee is concerned. Pret have produced their own coffee story on their website to demonstrate the precise methods they use when making each cup. The emphasis on quality from the bean to the cup, including all the steps in between, demonstrates their commitment to high standards.
The most recent addition to their coffee repertoire is the option to have your coffee made using coconut milk! The addition of coconut milk to Pret’s ingredients also means that Pret’s entire coffee range is vegan friendly if the coconut milk option is selected. With the recent promotion of Veggie Pret, it appears that the move towards meat and dairy-free products is gaining pace. If the Coconut Latte is anything to go by, it is also a demonstration that meat and dairy-free products can also be ace!
Alongside the recent tropical addition to their menu, Pret have all the usual drinks that you would associate with a high street coffee shop. But, be aware, when they say ‘Almond Latte’ or ‘Coconut Latte’, you will be presented with a drink made with fresh almond or coconut milk rather than flavoured sugar. Sure, you can still choose to have a syrup but these are a supplement rather than a mainstay of the Pret a Manger menu.
Pret a Manger’s approach to producing high quality organic coffee is a reminder that speed and price do not need to be sacrificed for quality. If you are lucky enough to live in the City of London, why not take your own cup along to take advantage of the 25p discount Pret are currently offering to aid sustainability?