[First published by The Clare People March 5, 2019]
THE price of takeaway coffee has gone up again and will continue to do so but has Irish society changed so much that we don’t have time to make our own? According to research – yes people get paid to investigate systematically our coffee drinking habits – one in three Irish people now buy a coffee at least once a day. You can’t throw a recycled cardboard cup in any of our towns and villages these days without hitting one of the many coffee shops and cafes that seem to fill our streets and shopping centres. With people now willing to spend over €3 for a cup of coffee, there is no sign that the new found coffee culture will slow down any time soon. So, how did this rise of Irish coffee culture come about and have we lost our image as a tea drinking nation? Less than 20 years ago you couldn’t get a good cup of coffee in Ireland and the word ‘cappuccino’ was only heard if someone was showing off after their holiday in Italy – but now coffee outlets are everywhere. The shift has also highlighted the significant change in Irish culture in recent years as more people demand grab-and-go simplicity. These days, you would be doing well to find a petrol station that doesn’t have a takeaway coffee stand, which certainly highlights a major shift towards an American-style on-the-go lifestyle. But as the country becomes more and more well versed in flat whites, lattes, and americanos, it seems the coffee shop has become the new pub – a place to meet and chat. It is not just coffee and tea that Irish people are now getting on the go. This is all well and good, but in a country that was renowned for its homely food and families getting together on a daily basis for dinner, the average Irish person now spends over €260 a year on fast food and takeaways – the 11th highest in the world. Perhaps we need to go back to go back to making our own food and coffee and tea and give ourselves that extra few minutes to enjoy the sound of a boiling kettle. At up to €3 a cup, we might just get to experience Italian coffee first-hand at year end with the money saved.