“I’m not making any specialty coffees. I’ll make an Americano, but I’m not making any specialty coffees.”
“Why the bloody hell do you run a specialty coffee shop then?”

In one of Beijing’s free magazines the other week was a photo of a smiling American chap making a specialty coffee, followed by an interview about his specialty coffee shop. It made me laugh, because during Spring Festival I was there with some other people, and the previous conversation unfolded. He didn’t smile once. You may have gathered that he didn’t even make any specialty coffee.

Like any city-dweller, I’m now used to the fact that I’m surrounded by wankers. I’m used to being barged out of the way by wankers on the subway. I’m used to wankers pushing in front of me in the queue for the squatter. I’m used to wankers shouting “foreigner!” and taking a picture of my scowling face.

Until I came to Beijing, I thought that being a wanker might be a very British affliction. In fact I remember some wanker asking my friend how his day was going, and when he replied “fantastic, thanks!” the guy eyed him with suspicion and said “Never mind, some wanker will be along to ruin it soon enough.” I doubt he even realized the irony of his own statement.

I feel sorry for wankers, because I can only imagine that they must wake up feeling like a wanker, spend their entire day being a wanker, and then climb into bed with the sneaking suspicion that they might, in fact, be a bit of a wanker.

There are lots of different categories when it comes to wankers, but my least favourite subspecies is the Pretentious Wanker. As I was sitting in the coffee shop sipping my Americano, one of my companions was telling me how aromatic his overpriced non-specialty coffee was, before going off on one about its texture and darkness and about how sugar ruins coffee.

“Would you say this coffee is dark?” he asked me.

When I told him, as I was spooning in some sugar, that I hadn’t a fucking clue, he turned to someone else and asked them the same question, before shouting “For god’s sake, don’t look at the coffee!”

I haven’t been invited for coffee with those people again, maybe because they think I’m a wanker.

The fact is, though, I find it very hard to feign a given fuck as to whether my coffee is dark or light or incandescent or even radioactive. I only ask two things of my coffee: “Do you taste nice?” and “are you relatively inexpensive?”

And I only ask one thing of people before I decide to spend any amount of time with them: “Are you, or are you not, a wanker?”