::cultural differences:: when Costa Coffee stopped making toast...


... and nearly made Little Miss Joey cry.

In Portugal, you can go into any café and have toast. It's one of those things that you don't think about as a Portuguese person, it's just there, everywhere, and you have it, and you pick the bread you want in the nicer places and you ask for how much butter you want on it if you're a bit picky and life goes on. Toast in Portugal is a certainty of life. Like expresso and the sea. And bakeries in every corner.

On moving to the UK, I was surprised I couldn't have toast with pingo (an espresso size latte) at 17.30, nor 18.30 for that matter. Nope, not available. At this time, British people are either having dinner (named tea, mind you), therefore defeating the purpose of having a pre-dinner stomach comfort, or in the pub sampling beer. In Rome do as the Romans do, so I now go to the pub myself, but that's a different post.

So why am I on the verge of tears 4.5 years after moving here? Because I discovered toast, people, toast in a café! Costa Coffee! And not just any toast, this was a yummy toast in a good quality brown bread with superb jam in a little pot on the side. Yummy! A little piece of home and a good one too. I discovered this and it has been taken from me.

I used to indulge in toast at the Costa Coffee in Waterstones. One morning, one of those mornings where everything goes wrong and breakfast gets overlooked, I stopped at a different Costa's on my way to work and naturally asked for toast, to go please. We don't serve toast. *insert LMJ's puzzled look here*. Still confused, LMJ leaves the place politely and has a mini rant as she continues on her way to work on an empty stomach. Boo. Bad Costa. Waterstones's Costa is much better. Deliberately, for I now really wanted this toast, I went to Waterstone's Costa later on to put the world right and asked for... pause for suspense... toast! I'm half way through a smile of satisfaction when I hear we don't do toast. And I go *insert almost whinny voice here* yes, you do; I've had it before. We did; we don't now; it wasn't popular. Like me, she was foreign and looked at me knowing of my pain at the loss of toast. I didn't feel so alone (nor ridiculous!) but I felt sad nonetheless. It was popular with me! It was my little piece of home in the form of that simple thing that is good toast.

Little note 1: photo is not of Costa Coffee's toast; I never photographed it and now it is too late. This is a clever way of portraying two home things together, bread and carnations :) It was staged at the Matchbox (LMJ's home) and no carnations nor bread were harmed in this photoshoot.

Little note 2: if you're interested, this is the original image, before I played with photoshop colour filters.


  1. Must get you to take a photo of the beautiful sugar carnation that a friend made for me.

  2. Fab photo (and story) Joey. Believe it or not a song about toast once got to Number 18 in the UK chart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJmKStqugMc

  3. I'd love to see a version where you keep the original bread and put the colour filter on the carnations like you did in the non-original one. But maybe I'm a too difficult woman? ;-)

    Btw: I really like your writer's style, even if it's a very sad story. One day, we'll have toast in Portugal together. I'm already dreaming about it :-) Maybe you can start a petition in Oxford to get your rights back on Costa Coffee toast. Or find some more Portuguese people in the neighbourhood and start a new tradition ... This way you'd feel a bit more home on the Isle ...

    Big hug, me x

  4. Plasma Engineer: that would be my pleasure :) always up for a photographic project.

    Dobbin: Thanks! And did listen to the song and I've trying to erase it from my mind since. But thanks for sharing anyways :)

    elkecita: you are not difficult. I welcome suggestions and comments; I'll see what I can do next time I'm in photoshop... :)

    Aww, thanks! We'll definitely have toast together in PT. And pastel de nata. Or pasteis :) I can see us already walking in Porto and Lisbon, sunglasses, slow pace, and cameras :)

    A petition sounds good... humm... I like that thought!

    Big hug back, moi x



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