Competition for coffee superiority in Teignmouth is rife at the moment. Local antagonisms spill out into full blown turf wars manifesting in passive aggressive rants on cafe reviewing websites and social networking sites. But none of that here thank you, we welcome each new coffee shop into the broad and pert bosom of wonder that is street culture. The latest addition to Teignmouth’s coffee culture is Finley Browns, which is perhaps named after the notorious monocled one-armed busker that used to frequent these parts in the 19050s that I just made up.
I work over the road and have been gazing at Browns since it opened last weekend. A few days ago I came in but couldn’t afford a lemon and ginger tea. Since working full time my expendable income has dramatically plummeted, and I think we can all learn something from this. But while £1.75 for a fruit tea is not exactly expensive, tell that to the man who has £1.50 in his pocket.
‘This is the most happening place in Teignmouth at the moment,’ says a bloke to his buddy as they enter the café. Rival baristas will be concerned, as Finley promises to be around a while. You can still smell the paint and the tables are as clean and white as well maintained teeth. The faded blue and white furniture neatly clothes the room and makes it look a bit like a doll’s house. A couple of armchairs and sofas for the more potato-esque persons, and that is where I sit. On the walls we have some generic patisserie paintings, cracked to give the looked of aged authenticity.
‘Tis a fine place, the local fishermen would say. Not that they would come ‘ere – far too European, all this cappawoppadodacino. At least that’s the stereotype of the fisherman that I imagine, which I suspect is wildly inaccurate. Teignmouth was the last place in England to be conquered in 1690, so I am told; not by cafés, but by foreign powers. Now, the only onslaught comes in the form of a marauding army of tea bags flanked by a few divisions of coffee beans.
For me, old Finners a good place to break up the hum of work. A man whistles behind me and I realise that there is no music. But then I realise that I am mistaken, because there is music, it’s just very quiet and overpowered by the clinking of ceramics and the jolly folks and the chattering with their words and their laughing. In a week I go back to the haystack of London, and the quaintness of small town life will once again fade into memories, replaced by anonymity and uneasy recollections of bygone encounters.