Coffee and travel go hand in hand like red wine and steak or sunshine and blue waters. In cities all over the world, hip, well sourced coffee bars are popping up in any crevice they can find, bringing their best iteration of single origin, expertly brewed beans, in hopes of attracting a queue of people ready to part ways with cold hard cash for their daily dose.
Along my travels I’ve seen some pretty amusing ones, like Alfred in Los Angeles with their famous #$10Latte, and yes – it actually had a hashtag in the name. This 20 oz drink was nothing short of extraordinary though, made with four shots of Stumptown Grand Cru Espresso, over ice, with hand pressed almond milk offering inimitable texture, the way a tannin grips a glass of Cabernet.
Sure, $10 for a coffee is ridiculous, but it was like a meal. Which brings me to Alain Ducasse, the French chef, celebrated around the world with more Michelin stars than Paris has bars, or close. Officially, he has 21 – which is outrageously impressive. At the hip Coal Drops Yard outpost of his Le Cafe Alain Ducasse, a simple flat white – a drink of no more than 5.5 oz sets you back £5, but if you add almond milk, or oatmilk, the price jumps to £7.50.
Some might say… WTF. And considering that an entire bottle of Oatley, the typical barista choice of oat milk these days costs under £2, it might be justified when paying for just a little dash.
Across most of the world, 2.60 in local currency is the general going rate for a well crafted drop of creamy textured caffeine in a good hipster coffee joint. My London area local imports their own beans, roasts weekly in front of my eyes and charges a humble £2.60, or £2.40 for those who bring their own cup. which puts Mr. Ducasse double, or even triple what most consider to be the highest end of the pricing spectrum for 5.5 oz of pleasure.
Naturally, this creates extremely lofty, edge of the earths atmosphere expectation, and this is where many guests are left bewildered. It’s good, but I’d take virtually any £2.60 coffee served in Melbourne over this version.
Perhaps, Mr. Ducasse doesn’t actually want oat milk flat white drinkers coming in at all. The flat white is certainly more purist than a latte or cappuccino, but it’s not the v60 or chemex of snobriety that brings out the true expression in the finest beans, which is what Mr. Ducasse has sourced for these outposts. Accordingly, those prices are only about double what most others charge.
One thing is for certain, even in a city known for extortionate prices, £7.50 for a flat white in London is just crazy. Unless you work at Google, which happens to be down the block.