Monday, March 18, 2013

Good Coffee/Bad Coffee

The location of a coffee shop is often crucial to it's success and long term future. I'm sad to say that what was for a period Sundbyberg's finest coffee shop, Café Caldo, has now closed down.

For a while it served Sumpan's best coffee and had an array of quite exquisite sandwiches. It then changed ownership, which I guess was a smart move on behalf of the seller because not long after said ownership changed hands the builders moved in, tearing Sundbyberg's high street apart quite literally to make way for the new tram line. Cafe Caldo has for the past year been hidden away behind mounds of concrete and construction site fences. Although the new owners never really reached the same high standards as the originals set in place, it was still a decent coffee shop, and it's a sorry sight to see the “CLOSED” signs now plastered all over the windows.

So it fucks me off all the more when a coffee shop with a quite idyllic location and charming locale, serves me an absolute cup of piss. Gröna Stugan, located on the shore of Lötsjön, is a place I frequently pass whilst out walking Bonzo along one of my favourite routes. The coffee shop itself is a charming old wooden building with a large outside garden and veranda, looking out over the lake and the flock of Canadian Geese that fly in here every summer. On a serene summer's day Gröna Stugan laps up business. Even in the winter months we're presently enduring business is good, the frozen lake still a picturesque setting to enjoy a cup of java by. Unfortunately the people who run the place seem to take the beauty of their setting for granted, as well as my custom..

My first bad experience here was sometime last winter when Jen and I were out walking Bonzo around the frozen lake and decided to pop in to pick up some hot coffee to warm us as we went along. Although the sign on the door said that they were indeed open for another ten minutes, upon walking in to the establishment I was rudely shouted at and informed in no uncertain terms that they were closed. I apologised and grumbled under my breath as a true Englishman is prone to do, said something about it being ten minutes before their supposed closing time, and exited under the rabid stare of the for some reason livid owner.

I've given them a few chances since, but today was the final straw.

I was out walking Bonzo around the lake on this beautiful day and having had no breakfast yet, despite it already being mid afternoon, fancied a caffe latte and a piece of apple pie. I know, healthy lifestyle I lead.. Anyway, there were a couple of tables set up outside and despite there still being snow on the ground it was handsomely warm in the sun, and I felt a quick five minutes with a slice of pie and a coffee overlooking the lake would be just the job. I tied Bonzo up to the fence just outside the door and told him I'd be back in a jiffy. He seems to understand this.. I walk in and there is quite a bit of hustle and bustle with the lunch crowd in the building and a longish queue at the counter. “No dogs allowed!” I look around for a second, confused as to who is talking to who, wondering for a second if someone has come in behind me with a dog. Then I realise that some sour looking cunt clearing tables is talking to me. What? I state the somewhat fucking obvious and inform him that my dog is indeed sat outside and not actually in the building. He just grunts at me, “Just in case you were going to ask..” The miserable bastard shuffles off. Fuck sakes, what is with this place?

I decide to fuck the apple pie off and order my coffee to go. I wasn't happy about it but at the same time I was in need of some caffeine and stranded out here. The nearest alternative is a good twenty minute walk away and I couldn't wait. I resignedly place myself in the queue and shuffle along as the dithering old people in front of me take an age ordering. When it's finally my turn the young girl taking the orders simply walks off into the kitchen for a few minutes. No explanation, no apologies, just fucks off. When she comes back I order a latte to go, shuffling irritably hoping she catches my drift.

Now I'm no fucking barista but through running the bar I know how to make a half decent cup of coffee. This girl either doesn't know, doesn't care or for some unknown reason hates me. She bleeds the espresso coffee into a cup, puts the milk into the foaming jug, turns the steaming arm to full and places it into the milk. And then she pisses off again, leaving the milk to steam unattended for a good two minutes. I'm exasperated by the sheer lack of love she's giving the coffee she's about to charge me four quid for! She finally returns, turns the steam off and commences to pour what is by now a jug of white foam into my coffee. It looks like a shot of coffee with a head of fucking candy floss on top! Without so much as a hint of shame on her mug she slides the beverage over to me and holds out her hand to collect. Slack jawed and amazed I hand over the money and leave shaking my head. The latte of course tastes how I imagine a piping hot cup of pigeon shit would.

Do I complain? Of course not, I'm English. Would it be different if I was Swedish? Nope, they're as cack at complaining as we are. I merely collect Bonzo and continue our walk, tossing the coffee in the first bin. What a waste of a potentially great café.. Next time I'll just bring a Thermos and park myself on one of their benches. And I'm sure when one of the staff comes out and tells me that I can't sit on their premises and drink my own coffee I'll simply apologise and walk off, cursing them under my breath...

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