One of the few pleasures to be a commuter from a green suburb to the center of London has long been the delicious aroma of the Costa burners in the shadow of the Waterloo station.
Although Costa has developed into a worldwide coffee brand available in 32 countries, including China, the fact that the beans are processed in South London means that there is a certain lack of authenticity in the overburned Starbucks beans.
There is some irony that the £ 9.99 billion purchase from Costa, from older Whitbread, was brewed by chief executive Alison Brittain during a coffee break in the Starbucks home town of Seattle.
Taste test: Knowing that Costa's beans are processed in South London means that there is a lack of authenticity in the overburned Starbucks beans
We should not be surprised that the buyer is Coca-Cola.
The sugar-based industry of carbonated drinks is in a bad way amidst the obesity epidemic in prosperous democracies and is looking for new products to fill the gaps in the distribution network.
Pepsi recently opted for Israel-based Sodastream and Cola first swallowed Innocent, the British maker of fruit smoothies, and now sees a future in coffee.
It can be invoiced as the first step from Coca-Cola to hot drinks, but what the Costa deal is all about is filling 10m vending machines worldwide with a caffeine alternative.
In a week in which energy-rich drinks fed by caffeine have been downgraded by a nanny from the British government, it may seem a strange choice.
Whitbread investors will not complain. An exercise that began with the company that wanted to satisfy active investors Sachem Head and Elliott by dividing Costa into a separate company and spending it on existing shareholders, has delivered a sale with a nice premium.
It was only 24 hours before the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, thought about the fact that he was not currently willing to buy big brands like Campbell Soup because the premium was too high.
Better value for its investors to simply hold the shares. Coke & # 39; s British chief executive James Quincey has made all the appropriate noises about dedication to Costa coffee shops, jobs for barista & # 39; s and keeping fire houses open.
Undoubtedly, Quincey is a great patriot and a nice fellow, but since Costa is a Whitbread subsidiary, none of the commitments are legally enforceable because they would be subject to the rules of the Takeover panel.
There must be real questions about whether Coca-Cola is so enthusiastic about running coffee shops, as opposed to cappuccinos that brew and cool when Costa has become a global brand for cold drinks.
The history of global giants buying British quality brands is not entirely happy. The sale of Body Shop to L & # 39; Oreal flopped. McDonald's flirting with the Pret a Manger from the UK was short-lived.
Aussie owners Bunnings have made a dog dinner from Homebase. My favorite breakfast restaurant Le Pain Quotidien was bought by American owners who & productivity; & # 39; have imposed on dedicated employees. Most of them stayed with the customers.
What is a great development for Whitbread investors (even Elliott's Gordon Singer was pleased), retirees and future investments in Premier Inn are perhaps less enchanting for Costa staff.
The collective executive class in Whitbread and Costa will not mind. They are protected with some enriching incentive bonuses. It was always like that.
The fetishes of Fred
The outbreak of scallops wars this week could not help but think of the undulating mad, dishonored former boss of Royal Bank of Scotland Fred Goodwin. I am reliably informed that he is still the most expensive pensioner in the group, despite being bullied in the aftermath of the financial crisis to put a stop to it.
Goodwin took his finger on the pulse and started a legal action when a diary column reported that he had ordered the construction of a special scallop & # 39; kitchen near his football field in Gogarburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Later it turned out that there was no scallop as such. But the always choosy Goodwin had demanded a management kitchen that was sufficiently close to his desk so that the scallops could be delivered at the right temperature to ensure that the taste was to say the least.
Among the other goodman eccentricities was a RBS single malt in design bottles, vaulted filing cabinets, so documents could not be stacked and a fleet of BMW limos with the RBS logo stamped through them. This, as Gordon Brown observed, made the car difficult to sell.
How we all miss such megalomania.