Monday, 24 October 2011

practically floored.....

Look, I don’t usually go into this sort of thing, but I’m going to make a motorway services recommendation: if you find yourself on the northbound M40, you could do a whole lot worse than stop at Warwick Services. I initially only stopped because I needed a pee, but as I was stopping, I thought I might treat myself to a coffee: it had been a long weekend and I still had an hour or so of driving before I made it home. A caffeine boost seemed like a good idea. Now, I know you can get a cup of coffee at any motorway service station, and it’s hardly unusual to see a high street coffee franchise in there…. But this Starbucks was amazing. There was a bit of a queue, so I had the time to really take in my surroundings.

The first thing to note was the ceramic Starbucks mugs on display behind the counter. These were not ordinary Starbugs mugs, oh no. They each showcased the autograph of a luminary who had passed through the outlet, many leaving a cheeky little note. Of the many on display, I especially enjoyed Jeremy Kyle’s hearty recommendation of the “gang” behind the counter, and I think I saw mugs signed by both Dick AND Dom. They had hundreds of them. I’d tell you more, but those were the only ones with even vaguely legible handwriting, so…. (although I think I saw what could have been a Clarkson).

As I got nearer to the counter, I came onto the radar of the first assistant behind the counter. What tasty hot beverage would I like to enjoy? I’ll have a tall, black Americano to go, please. Would I like a cake or pastry with that tasty beverage? No thank you, I’m good. You laugh, but I was seriously the only person in the queue who turned that offer down. Tempting though the shiny cheesecake slices and the raspberry and coconut bread undoubtedly were, I baulked at the frankly astonishing price points. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried too much about the prices. My Americano was listed on the menu as being something like £2.50, although as I wasn’t really paying attention, when the girl initially said I owed her £1.80, I thought nothing of it. Then she hesitated, so I looked over her shoulder at the menu. Ah, ok, so I was going to need a bit more. I fiddled in my wallet, only for the girl to clearly decide that it wasn’t worth the hassle of changing whatever button she had originally pressed on the till, and so £1.80 it was. Fine. As long as you give me a tall, black Americano to go, then I don’t care that you’ve only charged me for a *glances at receipt* tall, fresh-brewed seasonal coffee.

Next up was the queue for the barista. He was brisk and customer focused, so he made a point of checking the order with each customer as they came to the end of the counter. They guy in front of me was also having a tall, black Americano, and a mug was duly plopped in front of him. To go. Ah, won’t be a moment, sir…. I’ll just make you another one. Oh, don’t bother. Just tip it into a cup and it’ll be fine. No, no sir, you don’t understand. Have you ever tried pouring a coffee from a mug into a paper cup? The espresso begins to separate, and it’s awful. It will only take 8 seconds to make you another one.

The guy and I exchanged a look. Whatever, right? If you say so… you’re the expert, right?

My coffee arrived shortly afterwards, and it was everything I expected a Starbucks coffee drunk from a paper cup as I drove up the M40 and turned off onto the A46 to be….. average at best.

They had free wi-fi, but I didn’t.

Recommended.

Should I do more of these crap consumer reviews, do you think? Could this be my ‘thing’? Do I sense a niche?

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