Posts Tagged ‘Crown Street’

Curmudgeon re-visited.

May 31, 2014



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?