August 06, 2012

Obsolete Coffee Technology

So I was grocery shopping. Unlike the usual shopping cart time-trials, I was taking my time today and looking at some of the other products that I don't need or usually buy. And then... Sugar Cubes! Really? They still sell those? I actually haven't seen an actual cube of sugar in ages. After thinking about it, it's probably an effect of society's rapid advancements in coffee technology. While I am no connoisseur, I do have a cuppa now and then. Even to the casual drinker, such as myself, it's plain to see that we are drinking the coffee of the future!

One of the first casualties, it seems to me, is the obsolete sugar cube. (Actually, maybe regular white sugar in general.) Not only is sugar rarely pressed and dried into shapes these days, I'm guessing that the use of white sugar as a drink sweetener is in decline. I'm not talking about high-fructose corn syrup either! I mean something like a larger grain, slightly caramel-coloured raw sugar. I think I still see both raw and white available in most cafes but sugar cubes are ancient.

And you just don't order a 'coffee' anymore. You need to order a type of coffee which would be one of several recipes with fancy names. Warm comforting beverages that are made by someone with some sort of certified training to produce - a diploma stating that a particular person is qualified to create designs in thick dairy froth.

A waitress patrolling the tables with a pot of brewed filter coffee topping up people's drinks (for free) is becoming a bit of a relic. The idea that you can order a coffee at the beginning of the meal, with continual top-ups, is fading away. It's being replaced with the suggestion that you could have a coffee and dessert afterwards - relegated to a post-meal experience.

I'm not of the opinion that these changes are better or worse, but I could be slightly nostalgic since cafes and restaurants now feel very different in a reasonably short period of time.


  1. I still purchase cubed sugar and once a week I treat my wife and myself to lunch at the ABC restaurant down the road where the servers are more than eager to top up your cup.

    I might also add that I refuse to carry a cell phone so perhaps I've simply become an anachronistic outlier.

    1. Although you could be an anomaly, the fact that I'm not currently living in North America could be the one of the reasons for less sightings of things like 'Non-Stop Coffee'. Can you confirm that there are less places like that than there were?
      I think more and more people are drinking coffee like hipsters all the time. I have even witnessed people who insist that milk goes in before water when making instant coffee. Does it really matter with a freeze-dried product? It's this kind of behaviour, if encouraged, would mean the extinction, to the already dwindling numbers, of sugar cubes.
      (ps Totally impressed that you still buy them!)

  2. Dude, cubes are cool. They are a nearly perfectly quantified (give or take a few grains) measure of sugar. They will be necessary until teaspoon size is standardised. Sugar cubes you can trust, people with teaspoons you can't.