Cafe star bucks trend for ham butty

SKINNY decaff lattes, mochas with wings, and lemon prawn bagels were set to become part of sixth-form life as the first "Shades" coffee bar opened this week.

Inspired by high-street chains and the cafe in TV sitcom Friends, the company behind the scheme believes that today's A-level students are increasingly sophisticated. To cater for such tastes, goat's cheese with tomato and onion chutney on ciabatta is on the menu.

However, the higher-class fillings have met with a mixed reaction from students at the pilot cafe in Wellsway school in Keynsham, near Bristol, where the most popular sandwich so far has been the simple chicken mayonnaise.

And - despite caterers Scholarest's claims that the cafe promotes healthy eating - one of the biggest bestsellers is hot chocolate with whipped cream, syrup and sweets.

Head boy David Hall, aged 17, admitted he had yet to buy one of the fancier pound;2.35 sandwiches because of the cost. "I had one at the opening when they were free, but I haven't had one since," he said. "Though I've bought one of the large hot chocolates with cream and mini chocolate buttons."

But head girl Fiona Brooks, also aged 17, said she was certain the sandwiches were appropriate for teenagers and that Scholarest would change the fillings if they proved unsuccessful. Wellsway's students have already talked the company into dropping coffee by Nestle, out of favour for selling formula milk to the developing world. Instead, drinks will be supplied by major local employer Cadbury's.

Scholarest's project development manager Sam Green said that Shades had been inspired by the sofa-filled Central Perk Cafe in the sitcom Friends, so she was disappointed that Wellsway had not wanted soft furnishings.

However, a touch of television glamour remains: sixth-formers have spotted that their blue plastic chairs are identical to the ones in Australian soap

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