An acquaintance recently started dribbling uncontrollably while telling me about a new coffee chain that was coming to town. The name escapes me (I wasn't really listening), but from what I can remember, it was Canadian (where the best coffee beans are grown, clearly), was absolutely amazing, and its upcoming arrival was getting its many fans - which included this person - very excited, indeed.
Now, I like coffee. I like it quite a lot. I like it nearly as much as I like tea, which is probably up there with oxygen and water as essential elements for my survival. But I just don't get the obsessiveness over different coffee shops. Does it really matter? Really? If I were to draw up a list of what the UAE needed, a new chain of coffee shops probably wouldn't break into the top 50. I rarely see queues snaking out of the front of the 50 billion (approximately) we've already got, or people forced to spread out a medium-sized latte over a day because of short supply.
In fact, the whole coffee "thing" that has enveloped the globe over the past decade or so is something I still find quite bizarre. Tea is a far superior drink on so many levels, but you'll rarely find people popping out with friends "for a Darjeeling".
It seems that lobbying groups and advertising execs have decided that tea is to be drunk inside the home, with your family, and coffee outside, as part of your active social scene. It's got to the stage where my ladyfriend explains regularly that she'd really like a coffee, which would be fine except that she can't stand the taste. What she really wants is the coffee "lifestyle experience", the sitting around a table, nattering with friends about inconsequential nonsense and pretending that we all live in an episode of Sex and the City.
She's not the worst. I've had former colleagues explain that they're unable to communicate politely before they've had their "morning [insert well-known Seattle-based coffee shop here]". Why, exactly? Is it really the branded coffee that magically turns you from complete idiot to minor idiot, or is it just a shoddy excuse for your underdeveloped personality?
There are also those sensitive souls who declare they can't drink coffee after a set time in the afternoon because they'll be "up all night". Ridiculous. Well, as someone who can neck three mugs of the stuff and fall asleep quite happily, I think it's ridiculous.
And, as a final nail in the coffin, I bring you coffee breath, among the worst odours ever to have been emitted from a human not suffering from severe health complaints. You don't hear about tea breath do you? Nope. And while we're on the subject, I'll have an Earl Grey please. Quite milky. Put the milk in after the tea if you could. And no sugar. Thanks.