On days when everything I love about this city vanishes, when grey skies erase Harland and Wolf, when Napoleon and his nose appear to never have existed, I like to go somewhere that feels safe. Somewhere that never changes, a place that appears in countries the world over. Indeed it is only when claustrophobic skies erase the identity of my city that I am happy to pay a visit to the global coffee shop.
Coming from the rain into the embrace of a myriad of roasting aromas is heaven. The finest Columbian and Ethiopian blends hang in the air, the familiarity of them like walking into a full bodied hug.
An unexpected but pleasant chat with friends reminds me of the warmth of the heart of this city, even on the very cruelest of days. When you consider it, this is really quite a homely establishment, once, of course, you see past the furniture and decor that is recreated in 17,000 stores in 55 countries. I am unsure if my rudimentary google on my smartphone has produced figures that would stand up in a court, but I am reasonably sure that they are more transparent than George Galloway’s quest to reinstate capital punishment. (A topic of conversation from earlier spontaneity.)
The music transports me to a Speakeasy in Chicago surrounded by a jazz band, friends sipping rum cocktails and ladies with pearls, possibly diamonds hanging from their necks. A burst of cold air from the opening door reminds me that I am not.
Behind the coffee bar Stu works his magic. The hiss and steam and froth transform solid and liquid into little drops of heaven poured from his hand. The green apron worn by thousands of employees the world over tries to hide his closet ghetto obsession, but it can’t quite erase the green in his eyes as he considers the feelings his girlfriend Emma holds toward Rihanna. Nor his conviction that all this country needs to kick start the economy are a few more R&B superstars annoying local farmers and filming in our ‘ghettos’.
As the minutes tick by people trickle in and out, a near constant stream of customers all escaping the driving rain. My coffee, now as cold as the rain outside, declares that it is time to move on. And as I step outside into my city again I leave the bustling coffee shop to it’s global work.
On my journey home I spy Sampson and Goliath peeking through a tiny patch of blue.