For god’s sake it’s coffee!

12 07 2007

coffee_bean_singleWell you’d think so…  But no, not even.  Don’t start with me!  I’m warning you.  There’s a difference.

Starbucks is NOT the be all and end all of the “Coffee Experience”, in fact, if you’re after caffeinated water, without too much substance other than some fancy flavourings, and often over-heated or scorched milk…  Then I’d recommend Starbucks.  In fact, I’d probably recommend most of the commercial coffee vendors; Gloria Jeans, Tully’s, Seattle’s Best Coffee…  etc.  All of them are exceptionally skilled in burning coffee and serving a bitter, brown liquid while extracting as much cash from you as possible at the same time.

According to popular rumour, and I’m going to insert a BIG ALLEGEDLY here…  Washington is the Coffee State of America.  That leads me to believe that the coffee can only possibly be worse elsewhere.  Something I find hard to believe.

You poor, poor, poor people.  If this is the best you have, you’re really being hard done by.
Bad government, and bad coffee…  No wonder you’re on edge.  (Although, don’t feel bad, we have just as many bad coffee locations, and a bad government back in Australia too.)

Of course, this is a gross generalisation.  I’ve had several (and I’ve been here since August 2006) decent coffees.  I’d had hoped to have had more, but the truth of the matter is, that decent coffee is VERY hard to find.
Fortunately for me though, I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to.  Which on a good day could have ranged between 20-40 cups…  Just ask Mark.  The very first gift he ever bought me was a Braun Coffee Machine, that had a built in timer and alarm system.  Providing you set it up properly the night before, you could wake up in the morning to a the sweet, sweet fragrance of freshly brewed coffee.
I’d then stagger out of bed, looking like a complete wreck, bounce off the walls as I traversed the hallway, pour myself my first cup for the day, light a cigarette and squint around the house, as I “woke up to the world”.
Sounds civilised doesn’t it?

A good rule of thumb back then…  Don’t talk to me, don’t make eye contact, or any sudden movements until I’d moved onto my second cup and possibly second cigarette of the morning.  By which stage I would hopefully at least a small amount of the “milk of humanity” also known in the trade as “caffeine and nicotine”, running through my veins and I might be at least a little more civil.

Oh how things have changed.  For starters today is the 4th anniversary of my quitting smoking, cold turkey, without cravings, mood swings (well no more than usual πŸ˜‰ ), and without there being any blood spilled.  If you know Mark, you realise just what a miracle this actually is.  If you’re interested how, or want to quit yourself, buy The Only Way To Quit Smoking Permanently by Alan Carr.  It’s a little preachy/boring, but believe me it works, you even get to smoke the whole time you’re reading, in fact, it’s encouraged.

But I digress.   Where was I?  Ahh yes..  Coffee.

I’ve been up since 5am this morning.  I had a VERY early morning training session, so I’m feeling a little tired.  So after driving Mark to work, I decided to swing past one of the many (and there are literally dozens) coffee places on the way home and grab myself an Iced Coffee, just to put a little pep back into my step, and wedge my eyes open just a little wider.

Back when I was in Australia, and working at Moorabool Shire Council (crowd goes wild for Moorabool <insert roar and applause here>), we’d get a coffee from across the road each morning, and it’d be enough for the day.  Of course, it was a big coffee, and it was the best coffee I think I’ve had in quite a long time.

Great coffee, served with a healthy dose of attitude from my favourite mother daughter team at Mickey B’s, what more could you want.  Speaking of which.  Congratulations to my favourite “Coffee Wench” Michelle on her new baby! πŸ™‚  Now, back to me… 

It was easy, we’d simply cross the road, ask for “the usual”, trade banter/insults, laugh, and get on with the day.  If only it was so easy now.

Moving along, and I promise I’m getting to the point.  It occurred to me this morning that it’s really not so easy anymore.  Firstly, the staff of the more commercial locations, while polite, generally aren’t as vested in their work as those who own their own business (like Mickey B’s…  and I hope I you’re enjoying the free publicity ladies! πŸ˜‰ ).  Not to mention there are just so many varieties of coffee to order from, and different variations on how it can be prepared.

If you’ve ever seen the movie L.A. Story with Steve Martin, and you remember the coffee ordering scene; Half-decaf, twist, caffeinated half-caf etc…  You’ll get the idea…

Moving on (again), I’ve finally found a coffee drink variation, that I don’t mind so much, as it’s pretty palatable regardless of where it’s ordered.  It’s pretty much ice, 4-shots of espresso, occasionally with a splash of sugar-free flavouring, and ice.  What do I order?  Ok, here you go.  This is exactly what I have to state to get my drink of choice, and while doing so, make sure I enunciate every syllable slowly and clearly, to compensate for my apparently heavy (go figure!) accent:

“Can I please have a Venti Iced Americano, with 2 pumps of sugar-free hazelnut syrup, extra ice, and no room for cream?”

GOD, I miss the days of saying “the usual”.

For those of you in the know when it comes to “coffee lingo”…  Venti is large, Americano is the 4-shots of espresso, I ask for 2 pumps of syrup because if I don’t they give me 6, and you may as well just hand your teeth in at the door as it’s just too sweet, and no room for cream.  No cream?  Well that’s because apparently quite a lot of people are dodgy.
They’re just too cheap to order a latte, or a milk type drink, so they order the Americano (which is much cheaper), request that room be left for cream, then pour in the free milk that’s available on the counter, stir it up, and make a “bootleg latte/frappucino” (which are a good deal more expensive if you order them), and leave with a few extra dollars in their pocket.  The ingenuity of some coffee drinkers is amazing.

If I’m lucky, they usually understand my order the first time, if I’m not…  W ell, I take a deep breath, and repeat it all over again.
Today was a good day, I got my coffee on the first order, and finished drinking it a few short moments ago.  So I’m fully caffeinated now, and ready to face the day.  A day in which I’ll be drinking water and no more coffee.
As much as I love the stuff.  It’s simply too much effort.  I guess I really should get our machine running at home… πŸ˜‰

Have an awesome day!