“COSTAPOCALPYSE “

Costa #1:Sealand Rd drive through

Checking in at 1030 at a fairly quiet Sealand Rd drive in and a happy start to the tour. “Hello summertime” says the optimistic branding behind the till. . The space age style building with its slanted windows and curved roof resembles a moonbase of the future, no doubt one day there will be a Costa on the moon. Everyone seems happy in here, the staff are pleasant and cheery and patrons outside are enjoying watching the traffic roll by or people on their way to sample the electronic delights of PC world. If you sit at the front you can even see all the action in the McDonalds drive through just over the road.

I chose an all day breakfast roll and a tropicana, and was pleased to see the team from Hadfield photogtaphy in the corner, I was happy not to be facing the challenge alone. After a brief photo shoot with lego mike jones I was on my way. Things were pretty sweet at this point apart from the musical choice coming over the speaker system with Roxy Music’s “More than this” sounding like a omen of things to come “It was fun for a while/ there was no way of knowing/like a thief in the night/who could say where we’re going”…

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Costa#2 Tesco Home

A Costa within a Tesco , an axis of evil often blamed for the destruction of the modern high street? Or just a convienient oasis for worn out shoppers bags laden with half price England shirts and bargains from the 99p store? You decide. A smooth ride up the moving walkway into the gleaming white Tesco store a heavenly and calming display of everything you would ever need for your home. The lighting above the entrance hall is impressive, looking like a fleet of alien warships ready to rain destruction upon us all.

Here I opt for the first cappuccino of the day, and the first blast of semi bitter coffee hits my tongue, all feels well. I am lucky enough to get a window seat with an enjoyable and interesting view of the car park and Pizza hut in the distance.

The service is cool and matey, sitting next to some businessmen chatting about ,whatever “not that we’d get to that stage, but theres got to be a capability procedure” I pour over the Daily Mail and the news about Rolf’s secret crimes and betrayal of the nation that loved him. Events take a dark turn when I realise the music playlist is exactly the same as the other branch, and “More than this” comes on again…”MORE THAN THIS.. you know theres NOTHING MORE THAN THIS” and it sends a shiver down my spine. Paranoia places its invisible cold hand on my shoulder and I leave.

I pause at the other Tesco over the road and am disappointed that there is no Costa vending! What are thirsty Tesco shoppers who cant be bothered to drive round the corner supposed to do here? Onwards to the city centre

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Costa#3 Tesco Frodsham street

Here I am joined by Jack and Amy and the coffee madness continues. 3 espressos, an iced lemonade and a mint choc fancy please. “thanks for that!” I say to the manager. “No problem at all” she says without smiling. The espressos are not popular with any of us after we down them like shots

“Its put me off my sandwich ” says Amy “but at least it will keep us awake”.

The lack of natural light is a real problem in here, I struggle to see why anyone would come here of their own free will when there are so many other decent coffee venues. “Coffee.Italy. Surely” is the printed message inside the espresso cups and its lost on us all. The images of a nostalgic and beautiful Italy that adorn the walls are ill at ease with the supermarket environ and instead of offering a haven from the world it feels like a visiting room in a prison The smiling faces on the pictures dont match the glum faces of the patrons. Its purgatory it really is, an airport waiting room.. people just come here because they’re lost. Or is that the coffee talking? This one comes across as a place where you might be dumped by your partner.

Costa#4 Tesco Frodsham st vending machine

Positioned only a few metres a way from the actual costa unit is a vending machine offering a selection of hot beverages. We did not use it but did get a photo by pretending to take a selfie and fooling store staff in the process. Nice to know its there!

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Costa #5 Whsmith Foregate St

This Costa is immediately more welcoming than the last with its attractive tiled floor and view onto Foregate st, great for people watching and an aerial view of the homeless lady who sketches the clock with crayons. Music free in here, and for the first time one of our party was offered a loyalty card. We were joined by Rob at this point, and we were all quite satisfied by the pleasant surroundings, but the lack of smiles from the staff was a small concern. The costa appears small but is deceptively spacious and would be perfect for hosting a book launch or “welcome home from prison” party. We are all happy with our drinks but I am finding it hard to sip at my cappuccino but this point and a mild anxiety and mania is starting to creep in. Credit to the staff who rushed to the aid of an elderly patron who dropped her drink. With the closure of the M&S coffee bar on this side of the street this Costa offers a good view of the street and would be recommended on that basis, if you can get a window seat. If you sit further along you may even catch a glimpse of Themba in action.

Costa #6 Grosvenor Centre

A quiet afternoon in the centre, central location and soon to be enhanced by big name retailers TK Maxx and Sports Direct taking over the empty units. Service was a little glum and staff appeared flustered, but the lady who bought my toastie over had a lovely customer service manner. The food was of a high eating quality, but I had to settle for water at this point due to the risk of caffeine overdose.

This Costa feels a little bleak, with the fenced off seating areas and shuffling shoppers resembling a scene from the walking dead. There is no Italian themed artwork on the walls here, mainly because there are no walls. A poster near to the till proclaims the good efforts of the Costa foundation raising £1 million for charity in 2013. So well done for that. At this point I have a slight headache.

Costa #7 Watergate St

The newest and most controversial Costa opened recently directly opposite the established independent Barista’s Coffee. The venue always seems busy with a mix of clientele. I am happy to see electrical charging points offer a chance to recharge for busy tweeters. Due to minor chest pains I opt for a kids juice water combo drink. It is not that nice. No receipt given by staff but they all seemed very happy and positively engaging with customers. Lego Mike Jones takes a mud bath in Rob’s latte. Armchairs at the back are great seating for people that fancy themselves as kings or as  Jack says “Kim Jong Il would look good in that chair”. Plenty of seats outside for people watching and /or facing down your enemies. Existentialism rating is high at this point.

Costa #8 Pepper St express

No real need for this vending unit, we took a picture for the sake of completion and considered buying a coffee for a stranger but after lingering awkwardly for a few moments no one went anywhere near the machine so we left. If you want a coffee to take away in the day go to one of the independents on Bridge st, if you want one at night go home and make one. Takes up precious space in the shop, not a high rating from us.

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Costa #9 The Train station

The final espresso of the day deals me a virtual death blow. “Do you want a double” I was asked by the cheery staff optimistically. The first things you notice in here are the lovely air conditioning and the loose wobbly barrier by the till. The outside seating area again offers excellent people watching facilities, would be a boon on race days. The drinks offer complete bleakness in a paper pot and my mind is a nest of scorpions by this stage. “How I’d imagine a black hole to taste” says Jack.

Everyone’s coming and going, just passing through.. on life’s eternal journey. A poster for a religious performance of some sort entitled “God’s not dead” strikes an ironic chord at the top of the passenger bridge. The silence of the human soul comes to the surface as I contemplate tonights sleepless night.

“Have you ever been to Holyhead?” someone says and the conversation is over.

Not visited: vending unit, Hoole road garage, and cafe in Blossoms Hotel ( proud to serve Costa)

Thanks to Jack, Amy, Rob, Hadfield photography and Gina.

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