A Single Espresso

Starbucks, Gordano Services, M5 South 15th Feb

I feel bad. I’m boycotting Starbucks you see. Don’t like them. They don’t pay their taxes for a start. And they’re ubiquitous; sometimes you’ll stumble upon two or even three in spitting distance of each other. Smaller independent coffee shops find it hard to compete. But mainly, it’s simply because their coffee tastes so bad. It’s too milky and bland, so what’s the point? But I’ve been driving for more than two hours now, there’s an hour to go until Exeter and I need a pick-me-up. I order a single Espresso. It’s £1.80 – that’s not bad for a service station where simple Egg and Cress sandwiches go for £3.89. But it’s not good – it’s burnt and bitter with an awful after taste. I don’t complain because I’m British. Instead I drink it down as fast as I can. It serves its purpose. As we head down the wind-battered, rain-soaked M5, the girls’ breathing slows and one by one they all drop off, but I’m wide awake. I feel mildly heroic – I’m acquitting myself well. Maybe that Espresso wasn’t so bad after all…

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