Coffee on the High Street
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 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. Pret a Manger buck the trend and produce high quality coffee on Britain’s high street.
The Rise of Quality Coffee
Do not despair. There is hope for coffee lovers yet!
High street coffee shops now acknowledge the growing coffee market in Britain by introducing new ‘seasonals’ alongside their house blends. Costa Coffee and Starbucks have a milder and stronger coffee blend to choose from in their main outlets. However, it is perhaps indicative of Costa Coffee’s priority that the page advertising the Old Paradise Street blend still displays September 2015’s ‘Number 9’ blend (information correct 14/04/2017). To my knowledge, there have been at least four subsequent additions to their range. Starbucks offer similar alternatives alongside their house blend; I regularly frequented their outlet on Oxford Road in Manchester as a student, where they had at least two available blends to choose from. Starbucks proudly acknowledge that all of their coffees beans are 100% Arabica 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.
Pret A Manger
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 each intermediate step, 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 their entire coffee menu can cater for the vegan market. 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!
Pret provide all the usual drinks that you would associate with a high street coffee shop alongside their more outlandish offerings. When you ask for an Almond or Coconut Latte, your drink will be made with fresh almond or coconut milk, not 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 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?