Cup of coffee please.

Certainly. Would you like an Americano, Latte, Cappuccino, Espresso, Flat White, Long Black, Macchiato, Mochaccino, Irish or Vienna?

Never mind. I will just have a tea.

Is that Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Green Tea, White Tea, Peppermint Tea, Oolong, Herbal or Pu-erah?

Em .. could I have a Coke please.

Classic, cherry, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi, diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max?

Just some tap water please!

I’ve talked before about how, when we emigrated to New Zealand in the early 70s we felt we had gone back in time – and I’d come from “Darkest Africa”.

In the 30 years we lived there New Zealand changed dramatically, and nowhere was that more obvious than in the café culture.

Not all change was good, though. I used to frequent the Clutha Milk Bar. As a side, the owners were going to ban smoking but decided to wait until I left the country because in those days I never had a cigarette out of my mouth.

In case you didn’t know, milk bars in NZ were the same as cafés here.

Anyway, I digress. The point was this was a proper café which means it wasn’t “posh”. You didn’t get a Cappuccino, you got a milk bar frothy coffee – and nothing before or since has been as delicious. No good trying it at home. You would never get the right combination of coffee, froth and milk.

Anyway, probably influenced by the USA – as we were in so many things – the café culture exploded. It even invented its own variations, the Flat White and the Long Black.

My daughter assures me that the reason Flat Whites in the UK come with a fern on top is in tribute to New Zealand. I like to think that is true.

When we returned here on holiday in the 90s I had the same feeling as I’d had in New Zealand, that I was stepping back in time.

Now Britain has caught up and probably taken over.

I went off coffee for years after a bout of pneumonia. Prior to that I drank only instant coffee and only Nescafé Classic. I used to carry my own tin around with me in case people tried to offer me an inferior brand.

I didn’t drink any coffee for about three years until I returned to New Zealand on holiday. My son bought me a flat white and I didn’t want to disappoint him so I drank it and loved it.

But my point is that we probably have too much choice these days. You wonder just how many more combinations they can think of.

That is not as much of a problem, however, as the size of the cups that beverages are served in. You get cups that would seriously double as small boats and, no matter how fast you drink, they are stone cold by the time you finish them. Coffee is not so bad because you can pretend it’s iced coffee. Cold tea is revolting and nothing at all like proper iced tea.

Could I have a cuppa, please?