How do you judge the quality of a place that you patronise for your meal, snack or drink?

I’ve found that the quality of an establishment’s decaffeinated coffee is a good indicator of the place, and it works from small shop where you can barely fit more than 3 people in, to the largest hotel.

Why should you even be interested in this post if you drink your coffee regular? Well, I like coffee and I limit my caffeine intake to the occasional fizzy drink. Decaff coffee is sufficiently minority for a place either to make the effort or not.

In some places you get an instant coffee out of a sachet, which is something I could make at home for a twentieth of the price. In other places you get proper coffee, but they make a a big pot for all their decaff drinkers and so your decaff is often stale or burnt. Then there are places which make your decaff for you to order. Then it boils down – no pun intended, because it’s not a very good one – to the quality of the bean and how well they make it.

Places that make good decaff, I’ve decided, that put that much effort into providing a good experience for their fringe customers, are the best places for all of us to go. This can lead you to some unlikely conclusions. For example, the best decaff I’ve had in a long time was at a motorway service station.