This time last year, I was already in San Jose, having flown out there on 3rd January. The year before that, I was in Phoenix, having been upgraded to First Class on my flight out. In 2018, I was getting ready to head to Miami, while in 2017, I was preparing to fly to Phoenix. This year, I’m going nowhere, the first time in five years that I haven’t boarded a plane in January to fly to a warm, sunny part of America. I’m not going to lie: I miss it, although as I sit here writing this with one eye on the news, a large part of me is glad that I’m not in the USA right now.
The reason for my enforced stay at home is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, which abruptly cut short my last trip to America in March 2020. Unfortunately, with infection rates, hospital admissions and, sadly, deaths, all skyrocketing in the UK, the start of 2021 feels much like March 2020. This raises the question of what I should write about in the Coffee Spot. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty minor problem, but it’s one that I’ll address in this post.
You can read about my plans after the gallery.
Although I’ve compared the start of 2021 to March 2020, there are some differences, the most important one being the rollout of a national vaccination programme. However, that’s going to take time to have an impact, so, until then, the country will be under similar restrictions to those we saw at the start of the pandemic.
At least this time around coffee shops have remained open for takeaway services, putting into effect everything they learned from the first time. In theory, I could travel around, visiting and writing about takeaway coffee shops. In practice, though, that sounds highly irresponsible to me.
I will, of course, continue to visit my local coffee shops and support them as best I can, popping by for a flat white or buying some beans. However, these will be as part of my shopping trips to town. It’s an entirely different prospect to take a trip where the sole purpose is to visit a coffee shop, bearing in mind that unless it’s within walking distance, I will be reliant on public transport to get me there and back. It’s a decision that I will continually review, but right now, with infection rates so hight, I can’t justify travelling for the sole purpose of visiting (and writing about) a coffee shop.
Unfortunately, this leaves me with very little new material. At the start of the pandemic, I had a small backlog of places I’d previously visited but hadn’t written up. This time around, I don’t even have that to fall back on, with Guildford going into Tier 3 and then Tier 4 before Christmas. There might be one or two places I can write about in Guildford, but that’s it.
In a similar vein, over the first few months of the pandemic, I wrote my Coffee at Home series, but with the exception of some tidying up and updating of a couple of articles, I’ve really said everything I wanted to for now. There is a post in the pipeline, a companion piece to my Meet the Roaster on Chimney Fire Coffee, and I have a couple of posts that I want to do about coffee equipment, but other than that my (metaphorical) coffee-writing cupboard is rather bare.
Instead, expect to see reviews of the rest of the British Library’s The Philosophy of… series (which I got underway before Christmas with The Philosophy of Cheese) and lots of Travel Spots. In fact, you can expect lots and lots Travel Spots…
The thing is, although this is the Coffee Spot, I really do enjoy writing my Travel Spots. The problem is, compared to the average Coffee Spot post, which I can easily do in a day, a typical Travel Spot can take anything up to a week to write, which is why you’ll often see them staged over several days (or more!). The irony is, when I was travelling, I rarely had time to write them, so I have a rather large backlog of trips which you can expect to see over the next few months, starting with The Grand Adventure (as I called it), a trip around the USA from the start of 2017.
In the meantime, thank you for reading the Coffee Spot and please, where you can, keep supporting your local coffee shops and roasters!
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