Growing up, the answer was clear - tea with milk and one sugar! I was raised in a house of tea drinkers; in the 1990s ‘coffee’ in England usually meant instant coffee, and between good tea and bad coffee there is really no contest, especially to a child with a tongue so sensitive to bitter tastes. If you were lucky, ‘real coffee’ might be served after dinner, invariably either drip or cafetière, but the espresso culture of Italy, Sydney or Seattle was practically unknown.
These days, however, times have changed. You will often see the claim that the British drink 165 million cups of tea per day but I have no doubt that this statistic is outdated and that millions of those cups are now cups of coffee; while I am sure that tea still takes the crown for most popular hot drink in the UK, that crown is definitely slipping, and coffee is becoming more popular every year.
I first began drinking coffee in earnest around 15 years ago, as a university student. My pockets flush with cash from my student loans, and having just moved to London, I had disposable income for the first time and was living in the big city. Going to cafés made me feel like a proper grown up, and it was then that I began to discover coffee.
Like many budding coffee drinkers, at first I would cover the taste of the actual coffee with all sorts of extra ingredients (I seem to remember whipped cream, milk, and peppermint syrup comprising about 80% of the drink), but slowly I began to appreciate the coffee itself.
Skipping ahead a decade and a half to the present day, and about 90% of my hot liquid intake is coffee; my current preferred method is a stovetop/moka pot (I sold my Espresso machine to my sister - too much faff!) with freshly ground beans. I do grind my own beans, but haven’t quite reached the level of roasting them at home. That might be a step too far, even for me.
A ‘moka pot’ similar to the one I use at home - although my grinder is electric!
There is one situation, however, where I think tea is clearly the superior drink: with food. A bacon sandwich with a cup of coffee has never been a good combination for me, as I feel the taste of the coffee overpowers the subtlety of the food, and I find this is generally true of biscuits, cakes and other things typically consumed with a hot drink. There are exceptions of course, like those little Italian biscuits designed for accompanying coffee, but as a general rule of thumb I think it holds up pretty well.
Anyway, I think I’ve written enough. Time for a cup of coffee! Or perhaps tea…
no contest - a comparison, competition, or choice of which the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
"when the two teams faced each other it was no contest"
the crown - an award or distinction gained by a victory or achievement
"and Ali takes the world heavyweight crown!"
in earnest - to a greater extent or more intensely than before.
"work began again in earnest"
flush - having plenty of something, especially money.
"the banks are flush with funds"
disposable income - income remaining after deduction of taxes, rent, and other charges, available to be spent or saved as one wishes.
"young working couples with no children often have a lot of disposable income"
a budding - (of a person) beginning and showing signs of promise in a particular area.
"budding young actors"
to skip - omit (part of a book that one is reading, or a stage in a sequence that one is following).
"the video manual allows the viewer to skip sections he's not interested in"
faff - a great deal of ineffectual activity.
"there was the usual faff of getting back to the plane"
rule of thumb - a broadly accurate guide or principle, based on practice rather than theory.
"a useful rule of thumb is that about ten hours will be needed to analyse each hour of recorded data"