One of the questionable beauties of the Festive season is the reunion with out friends and family. Why questionable? After all, more often than not, it requires travelling between cities and even countries, to make those reunions happen. Many of us will have to go through the ordeal of public transport this year, as all those years before; and I think you’ll agree it hardly gets worse than a cramped wagon with crying children and snoring old ladies – with a lousy cup of coffee that hardly gives any consolation, even in the form of warmth in the winter chill.
Having travelled a lot myself recently, I decided to test a few of the most popular coffee-providers on UK train stations to help you make your journey-brew choices more satisfying. Whatever you end up drinking, I hope it will keep you warm and merry this New Year’s!
I had tried Millie’s previously and although the muffin I had (I know, profane, should have tried a cookie!) was great, the coffee I couldn’t drink – the mocha was so awfully sweet, I was munching the muffin to lessen the blow! This winter they introduced a whole array of Christmassy Cadburry’s Hot Chocolates, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again and played it safe, opting for a coconut latte. It wasn’t too bad, actually, although it hinted slight bitterness from the milk; then again, you can’t expect miracles from a fully automated machine, that has a ‘Latte’ button on it…
They do specialise in baguettes, I know; but there must be a reason why they have a manual espresso machine in the shop, no? I thought I was being reasonable expecting a decent coffee. Unfortunately, the mocha was bland, too frothy and forgettable. Stick to the sandwiches.
Delice de France
I admit, I’ve not seen too many of these, but with a coffee+croissant deal for £2.99 I wouldn’t have been able to miss it. The beauty of it was not only that you could chose an almond croissant as well as the classic one, but also received any drink of a medium size. Unfortunately, they didn’t do mochas, so a latte had to do. It was OK, but too milky for the size, and although at first it went well with the croissant, it quickly turned into a bland brew, that I only managed to drink up halfway. So-so.
Now this one I remember from my college days, when making coffee was still some kind of wizardry and anything that was sweet and punchy was appreciated; it was with Rush that I developed my love for mochas as it made an amazing change to the coffee from an automated machine (yuk!). Since then I have seen the vans here and there, but they were always shut at rather curious, daytime hours; so, when I saw one open at a train station recently I didn’t think twice about it. Unfortunately, the reality did not stand up to my memories: the coffee was quite tasteless, and although I saw the guy squirt quite a lot of chocolate inside the cup, it still didn’t taste anything of chocolate, apart from the dusting on top. It also had the bitter taste of old coffee – the espresso did sit for a while before the milk was added to it; not mentioning the fact of dirty steam-wands being reused over and over again without being wiped. Oh, the happy, naive college days…
I remember years ago taking a train in London and stopping by one of those for a mocha; at that time, I changed my mind in the last minute to have a Coconut Milk instead… I regretted the decision, purely because it was so uneconomical in my view in those days. Maybe that was the reason why I never felt encouraged to stop by it once more. However, when recently I was dying for a coffee I saw the kiosk and one of their recommendations: Cafe Maya, with chocolate and cinnamon. I went for it full on, with a bit of whipped cream and – for the first time ever – marshmallows. Those could have swayed my opinion a little bit, as they probably contributed to a scrumptious cup of coffee: sweet, nicely spiced and strong enough… Although by the end of it, the power of cocoa and espresso got a bit too much. All-in-all, I would recommend this one.