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Coffee, Chocolate and Tea

Coffee, Chocolate and Tea

944 Argyle Street,

0141 204 3161

Price Rating: 1

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Method in the madness

Review published on 11/06/2012 © Sunday Herald

Glasgow is mad. As mad as a box of frogs. And I’m not talking about the boozy antics that turn Argyle Street into a cartoon Sodom and Gomorrah after midnight and help fill that monument to 1970s’ pebbledash plug-ugliness across the road, also known as Anderston Police Station.

I’m talking about this. That bunsen burner, the glass vial, the bubbling, vacuum sucking, shebang of chemical craziness that’s going on in full po-faced earnestness behind the counter. To make what? A cup of coffee. The beans? Imported fresh. Look, there are sacks of them lying about to be roasted in that monster Dexter’s Laboratory coffee machine dragged all the way from Paris – in chains no doubt. To be placed in a shop front deep in the undiscovered bit of Argyle Street opposite the cop shop and be gaped at by the locals.

Well, me and Joe anyway, who wash up here from squishy, atmospheric, very popular Tribeca on Dumbarton Road after a very filling Americano breakfast of really excellent burger and merely average French Toast with two rashers of bacon. We’re still discussing whether £9 for French Toast is a cheek or not, or if we actually did read in Tribeca’s tiny print menu that there’s a service charge for parties of four or more. Whatever next?

Anyway, back to Coffee, Chocolate and Tea. It’s a syphon, since you ask – the coffee percolatory thing. A complicated and expensive way of making coffee and, yes, I do look it up on the internet. We can’t have the Honduran blend made in it because there’s only one syphon on the premises and it’s just been brought out to the couple perched gooey-eyed further down the long counter from us. So we sit cracking chunks of freshly-made-in-here-this-very-day white and milk chocolate bars studded with dried fruit as the girl behind the counter gets to work with the Chemex – yet another laboratory beaker type thingy, with a wooden collar lashed on with leather straps and containing coffee filtered through the tears of unicorns or something like that. Frankly? I’m having tea.

Not the Flowering, Dancing Snowflake variety – astonishingly it’s sold out – but Jasmine Dragon Pearl. One of the 33 or so varieties lining one wall in lovely, long tins, sandwiched between the bit where they make the chocolates and the bit where they make the coffee. There’s far more production space than seating space in here.

Of course, I could have had the Pi Luo Chun Black but I was so overwhelmed with the choice I picked the first variety the waitress suggested. It’s like that in here. Overwhelming choice.

The staff are pleasant and helpful but they do look at you as though they can’t quite believe you have never heard of Dragonwell Long Jin. Whatever you do don’t mention Tetley’s. I did, but I think I got away with it.

My tea, delicate and fragrant by the way, served in a glass teapot and not drunk, not even touched, until the timer behind the counter sounds after five minutes is being had with fig and pistachio biscotti, a couple of salted caramel chocolates, one green tea and lemon chocolate and something called orangette. All made in here. All quite delicious.

The coffee? Strong, supposed to be chocolatey and may well be, but excellent. The experience? Is it teetering, wobbling even, very dangerously over the long, thin line that separates fun from pretentious. Nah. I don’t think so.

So what is this then? A long bench, a few stools to sit on, five minutes to make a cuppa and another five before you can even drink it? With handmade chocs. It’s absolutely, completely and utterly mad, in this economic climate anyway, but actually it’s all the better for that.