I’ve not always been a coffee drinker - I was first introduced to it by my Mum and it was an instant, and not sweet to my no doubt immature taste buds. I came back to it as an adult after she suggested I might like latte (caffe latte to give it its proper name). I went round all the major chains and some of the one-offs. Some of the best I’ve had was at my once favourite Moroccan restaurant in Notting Hill, and for a long while I was a regular at the Pret a Manger in Kingston. The armchairs and dark colours gave it a cosy atmosphere.
A re-fit, leading to a much brighter “industrial kitchen” appearance and much less comfortable furnishings, as well as higher prices, put an end to that. I became a regular at the local Costa instead. And their coffee is much nicer than Pret’s, and in general, the other UK high street coffee chains’. Starbucks’ has pretty much no taste and Nero’s is a bit watery. Costa’s is usually nicely balanced.
However, one thing that has started to bug me about Costa is the furniture. A lot of it is old, and the seats look like they’ve been used as stepping stools. Some of them have had stuff spilled on them and obviously not cleaned properly. Some have upholstery which is so worn that if you sit back, you’ll feel the wooden frame digging into the base of your spine. Others (like the new wall-to-wall soft seats) let you sink into them, but you actually slide forward so your clothes feel uncomfortable.
It seems like Costa has gone slack on keeping their seating up to scratch. It’s not as if they can’t afford decent seating; I’m sure there’s plenty of nice armchairs available that Pret doesn’t want, but in any case, the prices are the same, whether the seats in that branch are worn and stained or fresh and clean and comfortable. And the prices aren’t cheap, even if the coffee’s (usually) pretty good.
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