Delaterra Por La Mañana and Other Poncey Time-Ponces

The words express, expres and espresso each have several meanings in English, French and Italian. The first meaning is to do with the idea of "expressing" or squeezing the flavour from the coffee using the pressure of the steam. The second meaning is to do with speed, as in a train. Finally there is the notion of doing something "expressly" for a person ... The first Bezzera and Pavoni espresso machines in 1906 took 45 seconds to make a cup of coffee, one at a time, expressly for you. (Bersten)


Delaterra should be called Mañana Por La Mañana as I, with no exaggeration, waited 25min, YES, TWENTY FIVE MINUTES for a SINGLE ESPRESSO last Sunday, 16 Dec 2018, morning.

It was 1100 when I entered Mañana Por La Mañ… pardon, Delaterra on Essex Road to meet a friend and only received my simple, easy, plain even, single espresso at 1125, and this only after a coffee-junkie fit, breaking the bright Sunday-morningly mood of the other four Delaterra visitors with cries "Ovidii, twenty five minutes later what happened to my single espresso Ovidii?!?!”.

In my defence I have to say, this was to be my very first coffee for the day.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was first in the coffee line.

For a café to serve a single espresso 25 min after ordering, or with a 22 min delay, is what in the restaurant business would be serving the main lunch dish three and a half hours after ordering. This calculation is based on my personal experience that a lunch meal in an average restaurant takes less than 20 min to arrive at my table once being ordered.

And if in the restaurant business waiting 210 minutes for your main never happens, then why, just why on earth, does it happen so very often in poncey coffee places, armed with high-tech, handcrafted, big and shiny futuristic coffee machines? It seems to me that all their "ponceyness" is based on the same principle of budget airlines - everything is at the expense of the client, who pays a nominal-value-cheap, time-expensive ticket. Only that in the poncey coffee places it is both value and time expensive.

Just imagine Ovidii working in any random cafe in a random Greek town, where every 20 minutes at least 20 coffees (espressos, frappes, cappuccinos, Greek coffee - as the Greek call what we call Turkish coffee, and the Lebanese call Lebanese coffee, and the Kuwaitis call Kuwaiti coffee, in other words coffee made on an open flame) are made and served double handedly by a single wo/man.

Is this now "I don't know about money, but I am free with my time"? Or is London becoming more "Middle Eastern"? But in the Middle East people take three and a half hours to drink their coffee, not to wait for it.

Ovidi, sole owner, barman and server of his establishment, admitted forgetting my coffee. Okay, it happens. You run a coffee shop but you forget to serve coffee to one of the five people in it - not a big thing I would have said, had the whole situation not repeated itself a few minutes later when my friend ordered a second single espresso and waited 20 minutes for it. And had the situation not been a nightmarish deja vu of hundred other times when at Lamb's Conduit I spent lunch break after lunch break mercilessly waiting for a single espresso to go with my sandwich. I could equally mention 20 other places in Islington, Hoxton and Shoreditch where the scenario is the same.

Already happy having had my coffee, and truth to be told: it was an excellent coffee, I was laughing at my friend's sulking about the second 20-min-coffee delay, when Ovidii suddenly frowned and had a go at me, entreating me to imagine how hard it was to run a place alone. While on a previous occasion Ovidii waved away my friend's suggestion to hire staff saying "They only cause trouble". Thus choosing to leave "the trouble with time" to his clients-in-waiting.

Other than that Ovidii serves sourdough toasts with all sorts of marvels on the top with a generous hand. Yet, I can't count this as a merit as both Mañana Por La Mañana and I live opposite Raabs, the unbeatable sourdough baker. Hence the whole hood is spoiled with regards to sourdough bread. At Raabs this and all other handmade bread is handed over to the client in about 3 minutes, as Raabs displays five to seven visible staff members at any time (not sure how many work behind the curtains) Also at Raabs all the faces are the same since I moved over seven years ago, which means that by working at Raabs the Backer people can make a living.

Hence, I will have to continue drinking my coffee at Dolce (deploying three to four staff members). Only because of the reasonable wait there, despite the massive amount of food served. Dolce staff also remains unchanged since I moved to Islington seven years ago.

Dolce can afford to be quick - they are not poncey enough to be slow.


Now then, how poncey is your poncey coffee place?


PS After writing this review I met a friend for end-of-the-year gossip. My friend, a Goldsmiths' graduate, broke the news that he is now working as meat vendor in the food hall in one of the luxurious shops of West London. He told me that he has been trained to work... slow. "They (the clients) will wait. They have to wait" my friend has been instructed on his training at the poncey food hall. "So we do everything as slow as possible while selling pieces of meat for £200 to ladies, lords and all sorts of celebrities".

Nowadays varicose veins and hemorrhoids must be replacing gout as the "illness of the rich" with all this poncey waiting.

Needless to say my friend is paid less than the minimum living wage for London.

This all sounds very glorious and luxurious, doesn't it?