2005-05-03

coffee and writing part ii: starbucks syndrome

go to part i.

A lovely blog about Starbucks calls the company "America's favorite drug dealer." The caffeine has nothing to do with my affection for coffee however. Nor is it related to my love affair with Starbucks.

I grew up hating coffee. Loved the smell, though. Still do. It was just that the reality of coffee never matched the fantasy brought on by the full, complex bouquet that wafted from the freshly opened can (this was before the days of bags and gourmet beans; you wanted coffee, you bought a can).

I only started drinking it when I was hanging out with my buddy Joel, back in the Ohio days. Joel has always loved his wife deeply and faithfully, but as long as I've known him coffee has been a much more constant companion than Jennifer. He always had a travel mug with him wherever we met and at whatever time of day. We would sit at restaurants over breakfast and talk for two hours or more, Joel using his travel mug instead of the coffee cup, getting refill after refill. I got tired of stopping the waitress (sometimes, waitresses--we would sit there long enough that the shifts changed) from filling my cup. One day, I just let her pour away. The first sip reminded me again why I didn't drink coffee. I threw a few communion cups of half and half in there until the liquid tasted more like coffee ice cream.

One day while traveling with my friend Brad to a Young Life weekend, he pulled in to a Starbucks. "Ugh," I thought. Somehow Bradley had become hooked on the Caramel Macchiato. We had to wait for his drink for a few minutes and the wonderful fresh ground coffee aroma overcame my resistance. "I'll have a small coffee," I mumbled.

"Tall traditional?" asked the young woman in the green apron.

"Yeah. That."

"With room?"

I actually figured out what she meant. "Yes, please." She handed me the cup. I moved swiftly to the half and half and began to pour, but I noticed that my usual amount of half and half didn't produce the expected coffee ice cream effect. I sipped the coffee despite my fear and entered a whole new world.

"It tastes like it smells!" I yelled at Brad who was still waiting for his cafe mula-mula, or whatever it was. He looked at me with an expression that was clearly intended for everyone else in the store. It said, "I do not know the person over there near the half and half."

Didn't matter. My coffee dreams had come true.

look for part iii, available soon exclusively at serotoninrain.blogspot.com.

2 comments:

Eric said...

OK, this is gonna sound weird, but while I love going to Starbucks, and while I love coffee, I have never developed a fondness for Starbucks coffee. I still drink it, but it's not my favorite.

I'm not trying to be a coffee snob, but I think I'm spoiled by what we drink at home. You should give it a try someday.

Jim said...

Doesn't sound weird at all. I know lots of people who drink coffee all the time but do not like Starbucks.

Your home brew is intriguing. Though I'm sure you are not, I have been labelled a coffee snob many times, so I just might try it.