I have lost count of the number of times that I’ve requested an “Old Paradise Flat White”, from my coffee chain of choice.
Costa Coffee has been with us for over 50 years now, starting in 1971 when Sergio and Bruno Costa arrived in London and started a small roastery in Fenchurch Street in an attempt to change the drinking habits of Londoners. They blind-testing 112 variations of coffee before producing their signature blend, naming it ‘Mocha Italia’, and apart from recently tweaking the roasting time this blend is identical to their original formulation.
I worked for six years in Clerkenwell’s ‘Little Italy’, and a request for coffee then was a proffered cup of instant brown liquid from a ‘greasy spoon’ often run by a family of Italians. In fact, only in Soho during the 1960s was it possible to get a real cup of coffee.
Demand for the Costa brother’s coffee grew, and in 1978 they built a roastery in Old Paradise Street, Lambeth, hence the name of my coffee of choice.
Three years later the brothers opened their first Costa Coffee shop on Vauxhall Bridge Road and became the first coffee provider in London to serve Espresso and crafted Cappuccino in a porcelain cup.
That first coffee house is now the CA Japanese Pancakes.
Taken from Costa Coffee
So what has this to do with London’s cabs, I hear you ask. As Costa state on its site:
Before we opened our famous coffee shops we sold our coffee beans to prestigious hotels in London, such as The Ritz, and they were delivered in style by famous London black cabs.
The featured image of the first Costa Coffee shop was taken from Google Street View.