I dropped into my local little Costa on the way home from work this morning. A lovely way to end my week in work and a great way to start my weekend.
The happy staff are always pleased to see you, always willing to go the extra little bit to make you want to visit again. I’m not quite a regular customer and as often as I do manage to visit, I don’t always order the same thing. Skinny de-caf latte is my favourite, but recently I’ve taken to drinking the peach and ginger tea, if the latte doesn’t quite fit in with the diet as I’m passing then the peach tea more than hits the spot too. (try it if you get the chance … highly recommended by me).
I had a later than usual finish from work so I enjoyed watching the regulars this morning, for lots of them, as they entered the shop the coffee machine was already working towards their prefered choice, the questions at the till weren’t what drink do you want, what size, etc. the answers to these questions were already known, the choice of paper cup to take away, or china cup to drink in had been made a long time ago, and all this was served up with a smile.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on the other side of the counter too, not at a Costa, but at a busy little cafe where I got up at stupid o’clock to make breakfasts, teas and coffees. Sometimes you step into your customer mode and the last thing on earth you feel like doing is smiling, but you do, and your reward is usually a smile in return. Oh you get the odd grumpy customer, especially at that time of the morning, but then it’s rewarding when you send them off with a smile instead of a frown, and often every smile you have returned will make your smile and happy mood feel a little more real and send you off feeling good in yourself too for the rest of the day.
I read a story once, a children’s story, a long time ago. It was about a real grump of an old man who went about scowling at everybody, and nobody liked him. One day in the story instead of picking up his top hat from the hat stand in the hallway, he picked up the lampshade of the standard lamp, placed that on his head and off he went about his business. People started to smile at him, obviously they were laughing at the lampshade really, but by the end of the story so many people had smiled at him that he eventually began to smile back and felt a lot better for it.
The Costa in the picture is to be found at the airport in Barcelona. I spotted the Costa sign as we were arriving but didn’t get a chance to actually find the Costa and make a stop, we were to busy trundling around with our suitcases looking for the way out by then.
Lots of you will know I take a caffeine hit each morning and evening to keep the caffeine migraines at bay, but in Barcelona, as much as I looked, I couldn’t find a Costa and had to settle for Starbucks instead.
Shock ! Horror ! Traitor ! do I hear you say. Well, not really both are franchises so my loyalty isn’t to the company, just to the individual shops. I’m still too-ing and fro-ing about which coffee I prefer, but the Costa service, pretty much in all shops (except maybe those at train stations), beats Starbucks hands down. The personal touch just isn’t there at Starbucks, the coffee is ordered at the till, details are written on a cup along with your name , the cup is then passed along a conveyor belt of people making up the drink until it arrives at the other end of the counter and your name is called to collect it.
And another thing … Ok, so I was a foreigner, not knowing the language, but that was no excuse for the local coffee house to try to make a little extra profit – at my expense. A few times at the beginning of our week away, my receipt had different words on it (spanish words) and a slightly higher total of euros, but by the end of the week, the little foreign lady, who still didn’t speak the language, had got wise and had learned enough to make the cashier void the transaction and start all over again with the correct coffee – at the correct price. (rant over).
Well, on our way home, the luggage was checked in at the airport and I went in search of the Costa. The familiar service with a smile was there, even to a stranger in a strange country which was nice and made the wait for our plane a little easier, but, and I know I’m slightly bias here, I’ve not found even another Costa to beat the happy smiling service I get every time I visit my little local Costa.
More from before : Basking in “Barcelona“, June 2014.