Coffee gets the bum end of the stick

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

John Scalzi's recent post on why he doesn't like the taste of coffee cracked me up. Don't get me wrong--I am in total disagreement. After all, Scalzi lives in a country where Starbuck's is the national standard for coffee. That, right there, should be a crime.

But Scalzi has a way with words and his sense of humour tickles. In essence, he writes, "Coffee tastes like ass."

Even more hilarious is the comment thread, particularly this one from Denise: "Just goes to show, one person's ass is another's pleasure!"

I have to admit that I was brought up on instant coffee. Back in Manila, Nescafe was gold (haha). And because as a child I wasn't allowed to have any, I naturally coveted it. I loved the smell of coffee. When I went to my first weekend retreat in year 6 here in Sydney, I couldn't believe we were allowed to have coffee. On our own. As much as we wanted!

At uni, I was introduced to the delights of "real" coffee. Instant coffee was swill, an abomination. The shock of real espresso hit me hard. I might have grimaced. But there was always a cappuccino to fall back on; some mild flirtation with the barrista guaranteed extra froth and chocolate sprinkles. For a long time, my standard order was a mocca with cream. But once I let go of sugar as a safety net, I began to detect the subtleties between different kinds of beans and brews. At the very least, I can tell when the barrista is crap.

I do think there's a place for Starbuck's and Gloria Jean's--social coffee is great if not everyone is a coffee lover or if you want to hang out for hours on end over one measly cup. I'm not a coffee snob and I don't begrudge other people their flavoured, caffeinated beverages. I just wish the chains had better barristas.

These days, one sugar is the most I'll have with any cup of coffee. I'm also less likely to order froth--I find it superfluous now. The last coffee I ordered form my local cafe was a skim, decaf latte with no sugar. Before you gasp in dismay, it's because I'm pregnant. My standard, pre-pregnancy order was a skim latte with one sugar. That's my coffee equivalent of a workhorse--no frills, does the job, tastes beautiful with my blueberry bagel.

On special occasions, I might order a mocca (for old times' sake) or a capuccino. I love to linger over froth when the conversation is flowing. Sometimes I'll order an affogato. It's even more important, I think, for the coffee to be good when you complicate it by dropping a scoop of ice cream into the glass.

So far, I haven't been brave enough to try a ristretto. The ritual, the skill involved, the fear that it won't measure up to its reputation--it's all too overwhelming!

Now it's your turn. Do you remember when you fell in love with coffee? Who's your favourite barrista? What's your standard order?

Or do you think coffee tastes like ass?

3 sips:

La Niña said...

i've been drinking coffee since I was 10 years old. My Mom is a coffee addict and would always have one after every meal at home. We grew up seeing her enjoy it. So one day we tried it and I got addicted to it. So I fell in love with coffee at home! Drinking Nescafe or Taster's Choice. Hahaha.

My favorite coffeeshop is depends on which drink I take.

Ice blended drinks, I got Starbucks for Frapuccino. For peppermint mocha, it's Starbucks. For plain hot mocha, it's Seattle's Best. Espresso, it's Segafredo's

pamtrixia said...

I can't remember when I first tried coffee... I've been drinking it for that long. I do remember that it was my dad who first gave me my first cup of coffee, though! My favourite barista is just downstairs from where I work. He owns a small cafe and he makes the best cafe lattes!

Babychaos said...

I would die without coffee. I don't remember when I became addicted but I do regard instant as pus and I cannot get out of bed until I have had at least two cups.