UK coffee

A friend of mine (here in Canada) is dating a Brit gentleman. She went to the UK to visit for a couple of weeks last summer and found, much to her chagrin, that almost everywhere she went (including most restaurants), there was only “instant” coffee. Hardly a brewed cup to be found.

One of the things she got her beau for Christmas was a coffee maker. Apparently, all of his friends and family now go to his house, since brewed coffee is so uncommon.

Why is instant coffee the standard in the UK? Or is it? Perhaps she just went to all the wrong places and he and his friends/family know nothing about real coffee.

Sounds like they were in the wrong places to me – instant coffee isn’t uncommon, but if it’s a half-decent restaurant I’d be disappointed. Were they in any particular town or city, or restricted to a tight budget?

Sounds like someone fell through a time warp. Or perhaps they went to the Isle of Wight.

Thanks for the quick reply.

They did travel a little on the cheap side, but did a general tour around the perimeter of England & Scotland. She had said that she only found brewed coffee twice. I guess I’m just surprised it was found anywhere. Even the greasiest of greasy spoons here serve brewed coffee.

Is brewed coffee significantly more expensive than instant there?

I’m slightly surprised, but maybe it depends on the size of the towns they were in. Instant coffee isn’t noticeably more expensive as far as I know (I’ve had a quick look on the supermarket website I use, and they seem to be similar in price).

I’d expect fresh-brewed at a restaurant (and I’d expect a choince of a few types); only place I ever recall being served instant was in greasy spoons. in the home though, I’d say that instant probably represents 90% of coffee consumption.

are you sure it was instant? they have some funny way of making it in europe oftentimes, i think with a coffee press? i don’t know, I just remember a study that said that the european method left a lot of carcinogens in coffee that american brewing removes.

It’s damn near impossible to brew coffee in a tea kettle.

What is a tea kettle?

A bit of clarification. I called my friend and asked where they were, and apparently they spent most of their time in Scotland, and only a little time in Oxford (where he now lives). She claims that it was definitely instant, though one of the two times that she had real coffee, it was made in a coffee press. She also says that, while they were in average restaurants most of the time, they went to a couple of rather nice restaurants and still could only get instant.

No great difference in price between brewed and instant that I’ve ever noticed. And the only place I’ve seen lately that didn’t have brewed coffee was a genuine greasy spoon. I do find that story rather surprising. Not impossible to believe, but surprising.

Thanks for the clarification. By coffee press, do you mean a cafetiere? If so, that’s not at all unusual, and is pretty much the usual alternative to just-add-water instant granules. It’s also possible that they got caught out by asking for plain old coffee, which may be the cheaper alternative, where most restaurants only freshly make lattes, cappucinos and the like.

Still, it’s a bit unlucky that they managed to find places like that. Hopefully if she makes a return visit things will have improved – for what it’s worth, Britain was never really into properly-made coffee in a big way until the 1990s.

That is indeed what I mean - though until now, I had no idea they actually had a name. We always refer to them by the brand name Bodum, regardless of actual brand.

Once, in a restaurant, she could get coffee made in a cafetiere. Once it was made by drip method. The rest of the time was water-soluable granules.

Thirty years ago my British friends asked for it by name; Nescafe. :slight_smile:

I can’t recall ever being served instant coffee in a cafe or restaurant here. Everywhere seems to offer fresh coffee, either filter (drip) or from a cafetiere, and usually you have a choice of regular or decaf at least. Many serve espresso and cappuccino as well… it’s kind of expected nowadays.

Even my local NHS hospital gives out fresh coffee for free when you’re visiting a patient, so I’ll be damned if a catering establishment takes my money and gives me instant crap in return.

Ah, the cafetiere. Great for those people that like lukewarm coffee with bits in. Fortunately, it seems to have achieved little, if any, popularity in the US.

How does a cafetiere work?

A glass jug with a movable wire-mesh plunger in the lid. You put the loose ground coffee in the jug, pour boiling water in, and let it stew (with the plunger up). When you think it’s done, you push the plunger down, squashing the grounds into the bottom of the jug, and leaving (more or less) clear coffee above for pouring.

Aaah. A refinement on my grandfather’s method, which was to boil water in a pot with a couple of spoonfuls of coffee grounds, and when it looked dark enough pour off the liquid without getting the grounds in your cup. :slight_smile:

I might also add that my grandfather was English. :wink:

I described the method (the pot, not the cafetiere) to a friend formerly from the former Yugoslavia, and she said that’s how they made coffee back home, too.