Cold Duck Redux

Riffing off a comment from Mark Bahnisch, Andrew Norton has a nice post on Latte Leftism/Libertarianism. This gives me the chance to reprise this old post from 2003 (Over the fold). There were some good comments, now lost forever.

The war has fogged my vision to the extent that I missed an important post on the central focus of civilisation, namely coffee. Gummo Trotsky selects “Latte” for his word of the day and writes

I think we can forego the Macquarie Dictionary link on this one – we all know what latte is. It’s what the out of touch inner city elites drink to wash down their lunch-time foccaccias or croques-monsieur while their less pretentious suburban cousins are happy to settle for a cappucino and a toasted sanger.

If this item from yesterday’s Age is any indication, there’s a lot of people in the out-of-touch inner city elite. And the numbers are growing. According to a survey by BIS Shrapnel, latte consumption grew by 50% over two years with 225 million dollars worth of lattes sold last year. Assuming that the retail price of a cafe latte is $2.50, that’s a total of 90 million cafe lattes.

Gummo follows up with some extrapolations suggesting that in a few years, latte drinkers will be in the majority.

I would view this prospect with horror, but I think it will not come to pass. Latte is the Cold Duck of the 21st century, and like Cold Duck will be shaken off with a shudder as people realise what real coffee is about.

23 thoughts on “Cold Duck Redux

  1. while their less pretentious suburban cousins are happy to settle for a cappucino and a toasted sanger.

    It is amazing how quickly the cappucino has become the common mans drink. I remember when it was the elitist drink. I also remember when it was pretentious to own a mobile phone.

    Obviously yesterdays elitists inspired the common people and lead them out of the flat coffee wilderness to enjoy cappucinos and mobile phones. Perhaps the elistists did know better than the rest of us after all. Or maybe they just had more disposable income.

  2. It is my experience that in many cafes the latte is indistinguishable from the cappucino. So a cappucino is the drink for someone who likes a latte but wishes to appear non-pretentious?

  3. Results 1 – 10 of about 1,640,000 for cappucino. (0.46 seconds)

    Results 1 – 10 of about 5,280,000 for cappuccino [definition]. (0.08 seconds)

    Latte is easier to spell than cappuccino. Further evidence of “dumbing down”?

  4. Look, coffee became very popular a few years back. Rather than go to the pub and down a few cold ones during the day, it became more acceptable to go to some overpriced coffee joint so that you could be SEEN!

    But then, a lot of people realised that they didn’t like coffee *that* much, but still wanted the social recognition of being a coffeeholic. In response to market forces, the latte rose to prominence.

    It’ll stick around until the next fad comes along (either a resurgance of fondue parties or maybe something that involves soy).

  5. This reminds me of John Stubbs’ account, in his biography of Bill Hayden, of what was said about Hayden by the Old Guard in the Queensland ALP as proof of his anti-working class elitism, at the time of Federal intervention in the Queensland ALP. Hayden, it was alleged, disdained beer in favour of cask wine(!) and, when a Whitlam government Minister, had employed an academic (i.e. Paddy McGuinness!) as a ministerial adviser.

    Then again, perhaps goon really was an elite drink by the standards of Queensland in 1979, and McGuinness really was a leftie elitist luvvie by the standards of the Queensland Old Guard.

    In an earlier period, and in another country, the French Right in the Vichy Regime was obviously not going to blame chardonnay drinkers for the urban secular leftist decadence and uppity women of the republic, so they singled out the imbibers of absinthe for special condemnation. The Vichy Regime is well worth study, if only for the long list of similarities between its prejudices and preoccupations, and those of the contemporary religious and Murdoch tabloid Right.

  6. Is ‘cold duck’ a boomer thing? I have no idea what you’re talking about…

    I like my cafe latte, and I think I appreciate decent coffee. Clearly according to some snobs a latte is already passé.

    How much is a standard coffee in Sydeney or Brisvegas? You can still get one for $2.50 in Melbourne, I thought it was often a lot more up north.

    I was in a Gloria Jean’s for the first time the other week. Apart from the fact that they’re owned by the odious Nabi Saleh, I was amazed that they can charge quite a lot more for no table service and a very ordinary coffee made by a barely trained teenager. I don’t understand it.

  7. “Is ‘cold duck’ a boomer thing? I”

    It is indeed. It was a sparkling wine (pinkish IIRC) which was, very briefly, the height of sophistication in the circles in which I moved.

    I’m pleased to say my preferred venue (Rooftop cafe in the Colin Clark Bldg) unbundles it’s charges. I pay $2 for a doppio (two shots, short black) rather than subsidising the soy bubbalattee crowd. But the general price is $2.50 to $3.00.

    GJs is beyond me also. I went once when I first saw one and once again, by mistake when Borders converted its coffee shop to GJ and I didn’t notice until I got the coffee.

  8. For a certain type of boomer venturing beyond the axminstered parental world so mordantly evoked in Barry Humphries’ Sandy Stone, Cold Duck was the pathway tipple between “Barossa Pearl” (a favourite of maiden great aunts at Christmas) and “Mateus Rose” (a favourite accompaniment to the breaking of the hymen).

    Thenceforward, nothing short of a big Rutherglen shiraz would completely satisfy.

  9. In the Sydney CBD a cappuccino will set you back between $2.20 and $3.00 depending on the establishment. Even though rents are lower outside the CBD the price of coffee seems to be much the same across Sydney.

    I drink “flat white” most days. However in most cafes this gets you a cappuccino with only slightly less froth.

    For some reason I almost always have tea when I am at home and when I am out or at work it is coffee.

    I have actually been to a couple of fondue parties, one just a month ago. Always hosted by baby boomer socialist type friends. It’s weird but fun.

  10. JQ: Cold Duck was a mixture of sparkling red and sparkling white wine.

    The label had a coloured drawing of a duck, this drawing was more remarkable than the wine.

    It was quite drinkable if mixed 1 part of Cold Duck to 9 parts of lemonade. Sort of puts it on a par with Blackberry Nip!

  11. Could it not be the case that whereas anyone can drink a glass of Hunter Hermitage with alacrity, Cold Duck was an acquired taste and would be today?

  12. The price of a coffee in Perth is getting ridiculous – $3 minimum at most cafex, up to $3.50 at some. The only places that seem to sell it cheaper are lunchbars and Macca’s.

  13. “Could it not be the case that whereas anyone can drink a glass of Hunter Hermitage with alacrity, Cold Duck was an acquired taste and would be today?”

    Actually, I think the reverse. For someone accustomed to (pink) lemonade, Cold Duck wasn’t much different, except for the alcohol, and as Steve says, you could always add lemonade to taste.

    OTOH, I doubt you’d find many drinkers who started on dry red.

  14. Terje is right. Strewth, did I just write that?

    A latte is a flat white for people who want to burn their fingers. I am jealous of the Sydney mob, at least in William St, because you get to choose size of coffee, and can get a ‘double shot’. Down here in Melbavostock we still rarely have those choices, even though we parade ourselves as the centre of the cultural universe.

    Down here we say “strong flat white” and kind of squint, and the unemployed filmmaker with the little pad gets the idea immediately.

    And JQ has just revealed the secret of his fine black beard and prodigious output. “I pay $2 for a doppio (two shots, short black)” A couple of those and I would never sleep again.

  15. 80 forints (55 cents) gets you a very satisfactory one-shot eszpresszo (short black) at Corvinus University, Budapest.

  16. John, you aren’t a “Mr Beans” fan? Their coffee is one of the things I miss most about UQ…

    You’d think that here in Austria it’d be easy to find a decent coffee (with Italy about 30km away), unfortunately you still find plenty of cafes that think a cappucino is just some filter coffee with whipped cream on top.

  17. “A latte is a flat white for people who want to burn their fingers.”

    I first encountered that latte-in-a-glass thing in Melbourne in 1998. I didn’t understand it until I spent a few weeks in Italy. There, latte is a morning-only drink, served cool so it can be bolted down with the pastry in the caffeteria on the way to work. (Lovely people, the Italians, but I couldn’t live like them.)

    I must say I liked the coffee in Rome, almost as good as what we get in Wellington.

  18. Well, here in London a coffee will set you back anything between 80p and £2 ($1.90 – $5.00). And so far they have all been milky, tasteless and lacking in a good thick foam (if ordering a cappucino).


    After 8 months working in Melbourne you develop a bad case of coffee snobishness. Looks like it will be tea for me for the next few years.

  19. Mick, Mr Beans is fine, but a bit out of my way. One of the great things at UQ is that you’re never more than 100m from an espresso machine. So, there are half a dozen places I go to reasonably often, since they’re in my part of campus, and the rest pretty rarely.

    My favourite and also the closest is the Colin Clark Rooftop, where I cah have alfresco espresso without even leaving the building.

  20. I miss that about UQ very much, coffee on my current campus is horrific. Most of the campus only has access to those aweful coffee vending machines. I’ve encountered similar problems at a number of 1st class unis around the world. UQ is particularly blessed on the coffee front! Apparently USyd is pretty good though as well.

  21. Wow, too many latte drinkers referring to the Macquarie Dictionary these days. One wonders if they ever find impressions, sensations and thoughts
    From the hidden contraband ports
    There you will doubt your own self
    Only to regain full health
    And vigour. For if e’er you strayed
    And from upright conduct swayed,
    It merely will refresh your soul
    And demonstrate the Cubic whole
    Of which you’re part. Time Cube is truth
    And without it, people forsooth
    Will set sail on contraband yachts
    Which later sink down into spots
    On seabed, because they were doomed
    To succumb to that which has loomed
    O’er humanity for years untold
    Deceptive shell of lustrous gold
    Covering evil. That is why
    Setting our gaze on Cubic sky
    And ascending from seaweed graves
    In which died professors and knaves
    It will be our intention to
    Know that 4 days indeed pursue
    Their courses simultaneously
    As Earth rotates. Even if we
    See only one, we can’t deny
    The total’s four. And also by
    The way, I feel I must make clear
    That Time is Cubic. Cowards fear
    The Time Cube, but brave people will
    Accept this truth cube with the skill
    Of reasoned thought. They know it’s true.
    It’s proven fact like sky is blue.

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