I’m a seasoned vet when it comes to travel refreshments. I’ve had more disappointing First Great Western Travelling “Chef” bacon sandwiches than I care to count, and more over-priced station coffees than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime.
Captive market though, ain’t it? It’s a basic flaw of the human condition that we constantly crave nourishment of some description, and a strength (some might say abuse) of market economics that I can only buy coffee from very few vendors in a terminus.
And so we come to The Coffee House. Coffee House is apparently WHSmith’s attempt at breaking into the retail coffee market.
Normally the sight of a WHSmith in an airport would bring you vague and uncomfortable joy; a sense of familiarity only mega-chains can bring. But this? This is another instance of the market screwing you sideways as it sells you shit coffee at ”holy shit!” prices because its in Stanstead airport.
Let’s dive to the detail.
It’s a WHSmith. Do I need to say more?
OK fine. There was a real coffee machine, and a steamer for the milk, and the walls were tiled like an early 1990s council flat kitchen.
Imagine that. And then imagine it inside a WHSmith.
The ordering process
Now I will preface this by saying it was barely 7am when we tried to buy this coffee, so I whilst the service could have been friendlier, I do not hold the staff accountable for their early morning grump.
The process was easy enough, and — bonus — there was no queue!
That’s about all I can say about it. I was tired, give me a break.
Our order consisted of 2 caffe lattes. Well, I say caffe lattes. There was milk in it, so it at least met half that description.
The caffe part was distinctly ashen. Like I imagine the stone of Pompei would taste, if you ground it into a powder and decided to put it through a coffee machine.
Bad does not cover it, but on the plus side, for an airport, even the large cup sizes we boldly (stupidly) opted for were reasonably priced at just £2.75. Who knew you could buy so much unhappiness for so little?
It was fortunate that our low-fare friendly airline, Jet2, did not permit us to take these half-finished coffees on to the flight (hot beverage fascists, that they are) for ”safety reasons”. It saved us from having to finish what was deeply, deeply unpleasant coffee.
Don’t be fooled by the loving embrace of WHSmith. Avoid this coffee like the plague1.
the raspberry and white chocolate muffin I had was nice though. Buy that. ↩