WHEN it comes to hot beverages, in this age of the high street barista, we’ve never had so much choice.

You want a coffee? Is that a mocha and marshmallow, with Belgian chocolate sprinkles, a flat white, espresso lungo or cafe bombon? Can I interest you in an extra shot, poured over lime, or with salted caramel syrup...?

Coffee shop culture is, frankly, exhausting. Sometimes all I want is a filter coffee, sorry, Americano, and not in a giant cup the size of a saucepan. Or just a mug of tea the colour of masking tape - with a plate of egg and chips, and white sliced bread. I want a caff, not a coffee shop.

The recent closure of Bradford’s Truly Scrumptious cafe after more than 60 years prompted a flood of fond memories, flowers and cards from customers. Yvonne and Nigel Denton took on the cafe in 1989. It had been in the Denton family since 1956 when it was the New John Street Market Cafe. “Customers become family,” said Mrs Denton. “Some have been customers since day one. They’re sad to see us go.”

Those of us who grew up in Bradford have fond memories of its old cafes. They were often family-run establishments, like Truly Scrumptious and the legendary Italia on Great Horton Road, run for 35 years by the Cilentis, whose Anglo-Italian mix of fry-ups and lasagne was a hit with generations of students, lorry drivers and locals. It was a regular haunt for Terrorvision, New Model Army and comic poet John Hegley, when he was at Bradford University. In the 1960s, Collinson’s was the popular hang-out for Bradford’s youth.

In the ‘80s, my haunts were Bradford’s Acropolis and El Greco cafes, where I’d kill an hour after school with friends, making a frothy coffee last until our bus was due. Occasionally, on shopping trips with my mum, we’d go to HR Jackson’s, where a waitress in a uniform served us a pot of tea and buns.

Returning to Bradford, in the new millennium, I noticed that many of the city’s old cafes had disappeared. High Street chain coffee shops were springing up, with their chai lattes and iced frappes. Times where changing.

In 2003, when The Italia closed, the T&A’s Peter Greenwood wrote: “Perhaps an era is over. Certainly the National Union of Students believes that. Recently its officials have bemoaned the end of the kind of take-on-anything individualism that began in the late 1960s.”

It could be said that the “take-on-anything individualism” has returned to Bradford in recent years, with the rise of independent bars in the thriving North Parade and Sunbridge Wells.

But the old independent cafes, with their wipe-clean tables and builders’ tea, have been largely replaced with the corporate-owned coffee shops you’ll find in towns and cities across the UK. With their uniform branding, mute-coloured sofas, light jazz and elaborate hot drinks menus that are baffling to the untrained eye, they are far removed from the family-run establishments of Bradford’s past.

Will their transient queues of hipsters and office-workers grabbing over-sized cartons of mocha-to-go evolve into the loyal customer base that Truly Scrumptious had for 61 years? I doubt it.

The demise of independent cafes, colourful places that were homes-from-home, has given rise to high street chains that turn cities into clones. The producers of new film Funny Cow, set in the 1950s-80 and shot in Bradford this year, chose locations like Fountains Cafe in the Oastler Centre because of their “retro appeal”. The city centre won’t be quite so attractive to film-makers if it looks like every other city centre.

* ONE of the chores of moving house is the endless round of contacting utility companies, banks and everyone else about a change of address.

I've spent a week trying to contact Sky and every time I 'phone, I'm told the waiting time for calls is 30 minutes. Who has 30 minutes to spend on the end of a 'phone? I tried going online but got nowhere without a password. I have about two million passwords, and have no idea what my Sky one is.

I tried texting and was told - by cheery message and smiley face - they couldn't handle my query but if I called them "one of our experts will be able to get this sorted". I rang again and the automated message said there was a 40-minute wait. Last time I called, it was over an hour.

Meanwhile, my 'phone bill is getting 'sky' high.

* VERA Duckworth was the kind of gutsy northern woman that Tony Warren knew well. Growing up surrounded by such women in Salford backstreets inspired him to create Coronation Street, and its strong female characters.

As one of Mike Baldwin's earthy factory girls, Vera was coarse and cackling. She also had a big heart, and she and husband Jack became a legendary Corrie double act.

Now Liz Dawn, who played Vera for 34 years, has died. Ta-ra chuck, and thanks for the memories.