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Donkin's World: Getting In To Hot Water

Richard Donkin finds himself musing upon whether there is a place for hot water cafes.

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Gill drinks hot water. I don't understand this. I came back from the station this morning and she was drinking it as she often does.

I just don't get it, I really don't. What is so marvellous about hot water? "It's better than cold water when it's snowing outside," she says. Well there's some logic to that.

But what's wrong with tea or coffee? "I like tea and coffee but sometimes I'm happy with hot water," she says. No this doesn't work for me, I need more. Ten minutes of waterboarding drags it out of her.

That hot water drinking fad, she reveals, emerged from drinking green tea. The tea leaves would stay in the pot and could be used several times by simply pouring on hot water. But over time the tea would get weaker and weaker, so weak, in fact, that eventually Gill realised she was happy with hot water.

I've noticed this trend in her tea bag usage. For Gill to use a single tea bag for a single cup of tea would be inexcusable extravagance. The bag must always be preserved for a second cup and, I suspect (although she will not admit this), occasionally a third.

I'm wondering if there could be a market for hot water: hot water cafes perhaps with a list of choices behind the counter just as you can get different types of coffee at Starbucks. There'd be the original of course for traditionalists who come up to the counter and say: "I'll just have a hot water to go, please."

But trendy types would want something a little je ne sais quoi: l'eau chaude peut etre.

Or maybe we could offer "tea without" or a skinny latte extreme, or water at different temperatures: piping, luke, tepid and aired.

So the order would go something like this:

"A cup of luke please?"

"Tall, Grande or Venti?"


"Milk or sugar?"

"As it comes, please."

"To drink in or out?"




"Would you like a Croissant with your water?"

"No thanks, I'll have some dry."


"Bread. What else could it be?"

"Well we sell dry by the glass. That's how some people like their water these days."


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