Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Steamy Secrets of Success

Ed Miliband is my age and he's running the Labour Party. James Harding is my age and he's editing The Times. I always assumed that it was a lack of vision, skill and drive that's kept me toiling over features in the vicarage guest room, but now I realise where I went wrong: I was drinking the wrong hot beverages.

Coffee fuels the highest achievers, according to a survey, and 70 per cent of the country's top earners rate coffee over tea. This truth must have percolated through the national subconscious, for 45 per cent of adults questioned by the pollsters reckon coffee has a higher social status than a nice cup of tea.

Now they tell me! Of course, survey's sponsor, the coffee machine manufacturer Nespresso, has a vested interest in these findings. But I am already persuaded.

There is a raw machismo about the modern coffee experience. The team of invariably good-looking baristas operating a wall of formidable machines. The air of urgency as they lunge and thrust, unleashing hot white foam from one nozzle and a squirt of potent black from another. The roar and hiss and suction as those metallic beasts grind into action and the infectious despair should one fail to rise to the occasion.
Coffee making has become performance drama which the moistening of tea bag can never hope to emulate.

It's only natural that the testosterone that went into the making of an espresso should infuse the drinker. A cut-throat financier who brings hot chocolate to a business meeting may be exposing an appealing soft centre, but I would doubt their ruthlessness in storming the world's stock markets. A double espresso, on the other hand, is a power tool.

We women especially should be wary. A herbal infusion is a social adhesive in civilized circles, but the chief executive who delves in her handbag for a peppermint tea bag within London's Square Mile will compromise her pheromones in a Y-chromosone battleground.

It just so happens that Nespresso is plugging a new 'flagship boutique' in London's Regent St, but these happily timed findings are not telling us anything we didn't know already. A colleague admits that he feels embarrassed sucking the straw of his little carton of orange juice while the pin-stripes on his commuter train neck cappuccinos. A friend uses his Rhett Butler mug when he makes his morning coffee and its Scarlett O'Hara twin for afternoon tea. And a respondent to my quick Twitter survey declares that people who order a double-espresso scare her slightly – 'even more so when they actually drink it.'

Small wonder, then, that those who consider themselves ambitious drink 1.5 times more coffee than we gentler souls, according to the poll. Or that 78 per cent of high earners deem strong coffee a necessity to propel them up the career ladder. And you won't fool potential new clients with a lily-livered latte - it's espresso and macchiato for three quarters of those at the top.

There is, however, a malicious comfort. A report by US scientists published in the must-read journal Circulation Heart Failure this week shows that, while two uncool lattes a day reduce the risk of heart failure and Type 2 diabetes, more than four strong coffees a day can be dangerous. 

 So those of us who have not yet sipped our way to the top just need to bide our time. All that espresso-fuelled machismo will burn out early, whereupon we can storm the city board rooms with our packs of PG Tips.  

22 comments:

  1. I am astonished to learn that you are not 10 years younger than Ed - clearly he has been drinking far too much coffee

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  2. I used to drink a lot of coffee, but don't rememember conquering dominions. Perhaps tea is the way to go. After all, I think people who drink the latter seem to have more personalitea.

    Apologies for the terrible tea pun.

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    1. You were probably drinking the wrong kind of coffee. Nescafe, for instance, disqualifies you.

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  3. I have never been a coffee drinker, even the smell turns my stomach most of the time (but occasionally smells AMAZING, oddly).

    Perhaps this explains why my espresso quaffing brother in law is an investment banker while I am a lowly fundraiser.

    That or the fact that I can't do maths.

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    1. Investment bankers don't have to do maths. It's a positive barrier to the profession. If they could, why would they have landed us in this mess? No, espressos are the key to your brother-in-law's success.

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  4. That was a great read! But I fear there is no hope for me, as alas I have always been a tea drinker ... and even worse its either peppermint or camomile. BUT coffee just gives me the jitters. It doen'y agree with me at all.

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    1. It's a pity that we both realised the secret formula too late!

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  5. I didn't think it was possible - but I now actually love you even more.

    I HATE COFFEE! As much as I'm told my taste buds will "mature to love it," I have yet to experience a sudden love for the vile substance. I've even tried adding chocolate to it in an attempt to fit in with my coffee-loving friends. And goodness knows I need the hit of caffeine with my ridiculous early mornings.

    But I can't help it. I. HATE. COFFEE.

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    1. It pains me to disillusion you, but I'm very fond of coffee. But only one a day, and a nice, unthreatening latte. Those powerful dark squirts don't do it for me at all.

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  6. What an interesting post. I fluctuate between latte and peppermint tea - which could reflect my Money Broker City and Healing Arts backgrounds, couldn't it?

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    1. I think you'll have to do better than a latte to reflect a City side, but you're half way there.

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  7. I did chortle at the idea of scuffling around in a handbag for a peppermint tea bag, as that is precisely what a friend and I were doing the other day (having ordered two thrilling cups of hot water). Though we were scuffling around in a rucksack and a changing bag respectively.

    No world domination for us!

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    1. No, but your reign as queen of the Daily Mail is pretty powerful!

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  8. I'm also a tea drinker. I hate coffee. I wish I could say I was a high flying banker to counter the point

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    1. No, but you see, you're not! There is a good deal of truth in this survey.

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  9. Sometimes only coffee will do. Sometimes only tea will do. Sometimes only gin will do. I've never wanted to be a top earner anyway.

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    1. If it had to be only one of those for the rest of my days it would be tea. I've always thought wealth must be a n intolerable burden!

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    2. Yes, but imagine what I could do with my long border under the weight of that intolerable burden!

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  10. Have to tell you honey it"s not coffee or tea that gets me through meetings these days - it's Red Bull. Lots of it. And if that's not bad for your health I can't tell you what is, but it makes those figures makes sense (sometimes!!!)

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    1. Red Bull? That's fizzy cough medicine isn't it? It would, between ourselves, be a pint of Cobra for me!

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  11. I should have known ... wise woman. I'll try it next time and see if anyone notices!!

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