Tea might be the drink of choice throughout most of the British Isles, the go-to cure for whatever ails you, but if you work for Torchwood Three, you soon come to understand that it’s coffee that fuels the workforce. It’s not merely a hot caffeinated beverage, it’s a necessity, as vital as oxygen.
While Torchwood One’s many employees enjoyed standard work shifts, and even the luxury of days off and vacations, there’s no such thing as regular working hours at the Cardiff branch, which means there aren’t regular break times either. Ianto tried to establish a schedule for refreshments when he first joined the team, but with only five people handling everything the Rift threw at them, it quickly became clear that just wasn't possible. On any given day, the team have to grab food, drink, and even sleep when the opportunity presents itself, because they can never predict where they might be or what they might be doing five minutes from now. As a result, it’s always time for coffee.
It makes Ianto wonder sometimes how the rest of the team managed before they had him to cater to their every need at all hours of the day and night. Coffee shops aren’t open twenty-four hours a day, so did they subsist on powdered instant coffee, hot water, and a dash of milk during the long nights? That’s hard to imagine, especially since these days they look upon instant coffee as the worst punishment imaginable.
Or maybe it’s being threatened with caffeine deprivation that really inspires terror in them and ensures their good behaviour. Because while Ianto considers instant coffee undeserving of a name that should be reserved for the genuine article, made from the finest freshly ground beans, when he’s displeased with one or other of his teammates, he goes the extra mile and serves up the cheapest instant decaf he can get.
Well, no matter. The point remains that when they’re near enough falling asleep on their feet during a forty-eight-hour shift, or desperately in need of an energy boost after chasing an elusive Weevil around Cardiff for half the night, it’s Ianto they turn to with beseeching expressions on their faces, begging for a mug of his heavenly brew to help them keep going just a little while longer. And of course Ianto obliges; it’s gratifying to know how much they rely on him and his carefully crafted blends, and it gives him a certain sense of job security too. They can’t do their jobs without him. They’d run out of steam if they didn’t have enough caffeine coursing through their veins, and that could be an unmitigated disaster for the good citizens of Cardiff.
Ianto smiles in satisfaction as he pours five mugs of his finest blend, inhaling the rich aroma, drawing it so deeply into his lungs that he can practically taste it already. Let the English keep their tea, and let everyone else keep those awful jars of powdered instant and abominable sachets of flavoured coffee. It might be considered bragging, but he knows that what he brews is far and away better than anything you’d find elsewhere, and he has no doubt that if asked, all his colleagues would agree with that assessment.
When it comes right down to it, if you work for Torchwood Three, any time of the day or night is the right time for coffee, just as long as it’s the real thing.