Are Costa Coffees a bit like McDonald’s? Are all coffee chains for that matter?Actually is McDonald’s coffee better than Costa? Er let’s not get into that now. Anyway it is British and arguably (not going into that now either) better than Starbucks and Nero but that is subjective. It is more popular though apparently but seems to be so ubiquitous (it’s now in 32 countries with nearly 2,500 branches in the UK) that there is a sense of ennui when seeing the red sign now for me.

When you go into a Costa anywhere in the country you pretty much know how it’s going to look and what it’s going to sell. You also know that if you like the Costa/McDonald’s/Starbucks that you will like what they provide – maybe it’s that consistency neigh certainty that makes it a success – you know what you are getting. How many holidaymakers have found the local food expensive/inedible/inscrutable and glad to have found the golden arches?

One thing  you can often expect with Costa seems to be noise. In one branch it felt akin to being in a discoteque and time it wrong on a school day and you feel like you are in a crèche or a real-life audition for Monsters Inc. If you time it wrongly near Christmas, it feels like you are a foreign correspondent reporting from a war-zone.

On one visit to the Market Drayton branch, someone decided to start drilling under the counter, not , as you would expect, after hours but in a busy shop. Even Costa customers used to having their eardrums burst started to tut and in some cases walk out. Costa – WTF.

I heard some young children refer to the café as the ‘Clanger Banger’, not referring to an adult version of a 1970s children’s TV show, but to the noise emanating from behind the counter; the orchestra of porcelain being dropped onto porcelain and tamping of the beans. Perhaps they should be behind sound-proof booths with a little serving hatch where only a bit of the racket can escape.

Still if Costa is your idea of a nice café then you will probably not care about the noise as you are probably on your way to a rave somewhere in a field.


Verdict: 3/5

Good: Consistency. Generally good. British.

Bad: Meh. Noise.