Curmudgeon re-visited.



The latest fad seems to be people ordering take-away lattes. Can you believe it? Surely a sign of a society in deep trouble or decay. I remember decades ago when the freshly brewed coffee started to make inroads in Australia. New grounds had to be fought over, tooth and nail. Eyebrows were raised and there were vehement protests from the African Violet Society and the Cricket Board. Sign were paraded in front of Parliament house. “No European Habits here, please!” The coffee lounge was born. I think the first one was near the brothel area around Crown Street in Surrey Hills called ‘Reggio’s. Lonely swarthy European men were seen quietly sipping an espresso contemplating their next move around the corner. Was it 1957/58?. It was frowned upon by many Sydney siders, especially its proximity to a large maternity hospital.

I do remember a Balmain woman some years later when coffee drinking had taken to the footpaths, bitterly complaining, “Look at those people, sitting around, not DOING anything”. ‘Doing things’ was seen as obligatory to a successful life. The fact that all good art is derived from deep and insightful espresso sipping was a total anathema to a fruitful life in the suburbs. Own deposits for own block of land had to be saved for or payments on the B/W telly had to be met. The brick veneer was beckoning. That’s what life was about then.

It was an uphill battle and we know now that since its reluctant acceptance it now has overtaken all in its paths especially footpaths. A cultural tsunami indeed. But going back to the ‘take away latte’ I feel it is taking a dangerous turn. Why would one join those crowds of sipping on the go. It seems now impossible to cross a road for many without risking total dehydration. I saw a man sipping enthusiastically from a bottle of Fanta drink almost walking in front of a fully laden cement truck. I looked up, but the driver was also sipping from a bottle. What is going on?

It is sacrilege to drink coffee while walking. Surely sitting down with friends in great excitement, animation, even exultation or in reflective contemplation is what coffee is about. Coffee demands that of us. What would the Brazilians make of it, or indeed the Colombians?

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26 Responses to “Curmudgeon re-visited.”

  1. ChristineR Says:

    Even our little town has the table and chairs out on the footpath these days. I was pretty stunned when the first kerbside coffee shouting barriers went up. I thought, what the hell do they think this is … ? How do you go all cosmopolitan in a country town without it looking odd.
    (I don’t know if cosmopolitan is the right word, but I know what I mean … thousands wouldn’t.)


  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes Christine,
    It has been a revolution all around. We now have a better coffee culture than in France. Also, a total turn around in pubs with customers now as likely to be sitting down and enjoy a meal with a glass of wine as well as still having ‘a schooner’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. M-R Says:

    Mate ! – Pyrmont has little pavement left. But the walkers drinking coffee are only seen in peak hours – either sullenly arriving at or ecstatically departing from their workplaces. Other than that, they do sit and sip; and in truth there are few baristas around who don’t know what they’re doing. Wow, eh ? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Today is Saturday, when workplaces are closed. We saw many sipping coffee out of those waxed beakers AND walking about. I am not so sure if it isn’t related to being seen as still being busy, ‘doing something or going somewhere’. Perhaps (Bowral) being one of the last vestige or remnant of an unadulterated Anglo society is unsure what to do.
    To sit down or not to sit down:? That is the question. Anyway, H and I give a good example by doing; sipping and sitting.


  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    London circa 1650:

    “Coffee at first seemed exotic to the English and they debated its benefits and recipes. Handbills promoting “The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, First made and publickly sold in England by Pasqua Rosee” proclaimed coffee’s salutary effect on digestion, sore eyes, gout, scurvy, spleen, hypochondriac, rogue winds, and drowsiness.”

    From Reckless Appetites, by Jacqueline Deval


  6. Andrew Says:

    You mean Oz now has more than a flat white? I must see this and experience it for myself.


  7. berlioz1935 Says:

    Drinking coffee on the go can be seen in many of the police dramas. Perhaps it is easier to solve crime this way. In German they call “take away” “coffee on-the-go”.

    There are always people who resist change. First they did not want us to sit down and sip coffee; now we, the “down-sitters” don’t want people to walk the streets with their coffee in their hands. It is barbaric, isn’t it? I mean the walking.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it not just drinking on the go but eating as well. And boy do we now eat. The cinema is now just a giant feeding hall where frenzied eaters are using the movie as an excuse for more eating.
      Not long ago a couple next to us were carving some kind of take away ribs in a box. They kept gnawing away during a scene of intense sadness and sorrow.
      We moved seats only resulting in our olfactory senses to be assaulted by a couple of young girls with nose rings that had garbage size cartons of pop corn in their laps.


  8. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I’m not nearly clever enough to walk and drink – I’d be sure to spill hot coffee down my front, or walk smack in to a lamp post or worse, bump in to someone and scald them. There must be an art to drinking coffee on the hoof but I’ll leave it to others.

    I have to confess that sitting outside a cafe drinking coffee does not appeal to me either. It’s far too genteel. Give me a bar or a pub any day. A quiet pint or two of cider with Irish, or the noisy banter and raucous laughter that ensues when we meet up with friends, either way, I’m a lush, not a latte drinker! 😉


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, well that’s Lottie to a T. A woman who knows where she is going except when having a latte in her hand. Any raucous bars in your neck of the woods, wild tangos… and.. how is your garden getting along? That courtyard with those blue pots and rush chairs. A work of art.


      • Lottie Nevin Says:

        The courtyard is looking splendido – lots more pots and plants. As for raucous bars…..well, our little bar next door is hardly raucous but it’s a fun place to meet up with friends and we’ve had some jolly times in there. Living out in the sticks means having to drive if we want a change of scene so it’s mighty convenient having the bar right next door.


  9. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Ah Gerard, I would rather see someone walking by sipping a cup of java than wearing a cellphone attached to his or her ear. –Curt


  10. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I could have sworn I saw you just the other day sipping a latte with a pretty blond, in a cute little hide-away coffee shop. Or maybe not..


  11. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I love my coffee and when in the past of not so long ago, my heart allowed me to drink coffee and yes, even hot tea was really tasty with milk and honey to sweeten. But I’m not complaining it seems so long ago when coffee was on my agenda for just about all day long. I did love “me some coffee.” .

    Gerard I drank every day, on my way to work, with a cup in the console of my Ford Explorer. Yes, I drank alone. Maybe I was a closet coffeeholic? 🙂


  12. chris hunter Says:

    Yes Gerard, I too saw Pilger’s doco ‘Utopia’. Does coffee cure despair?


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