“Goodnight sweet prince,” muttered my son as our trusty Gaggia coffee maker finally gave up the ghost. He twiddled a few knobs on the machine and the illuminated display declared that the machine had made the grand total of 7,197 cups of coffee in its time.
Blimey, I thought, that’s a heck of a lot of coffee. We’d had the machine serviced regularly but the coffee had definitely been getting more and more insipid in recent weeks. Maybe it was time we took pity on it and put it out to grass.
So with the coffee machine out of action and fed up with the old cafetière I found at the back of the cupboard I’ve been buying coffee out more than usual.
To my mind the best places to get a flat white in Dorset are Le Petit Prince in Westbourne (I wish they stocked skimmed milk though) and Chococo in Swanage (they do a mean skinny flat white and even give you one of their handmade chocolates to go with it).
In London my favourite places are Caravan near King’s Cross and the ultra chic Riding House Café (left) in Great Titchfield Street, just a five-minute walk from Oxford Circus.
Actually, The Riding House Café reminds me of how much earlier London gets going these days. I met my daughter there at 7.45am last week and was stunned to find the place packed with people ensconced in business meetings. The atmosphere was buzzing and energetic and the breakfast menu – everything from buttermilk pancakes to my favourite, avocado on toast – was divine.
How times have changed. When I worked on the Evening Standard most news reporters started at 7am every morning. But as we wandered bleary-eyed along Fleet Street to the old Express building (a vision of chrome and glass and known to all as the Black Lubyanka) the rest of the City was deserted.
Mind you, we knocked off at 4pm unless we were on an out of town job and only worked a four-day week so we definitely had it lucky. Now everyone starts work at the crack of dawn and wouldn’t dream of taking an hour off for lunch (usually with a drink or two as well). Mind you, the coffee is a hell of a lot better…