A Cup, A Cup, A Cup, A Cup

I came to love coffee much the same way I came to appreciate food – from the serving end. Work at Starbuck’s long enough, learn many people can’t pronounce latte to save their lives, much less the difference between that and a cappuccino.

Now, by coincidence, one of my best friends, Martha, owns a coffee shop. She and I happened to work at that Starbuck’s together years ago, tamped our first espressos on the same machine; I can remember outlining drink recipes with her on a dry-erase board; today, she can smell a coffee bean and tell you whether it’s Guatemalan or Ethiopian, and knows why some diners rush to refill your cup (that stuff only tastes good hot, and probably even better when masked by the taste of pie).

So by association, I’ve become a bit of a coffee snob. Another friend of Martha’s and mine concurs: she went to Manhattan not long ago and admitted the coffee there “tasted like ass.” Oh my, was all I said.

There was a time I drank so much of the stuff my dentist thought I was a chain smoker. She actually recommended chemical bleaching. A simple cleaning proved I was, in fact, not a smoker – just a very, very awake college student.

Then part of me wonders: do I truly love coffee, or am I just ensconced in its myth, its romance, its lovely pairing with cheesecake? The smell of fresh ground beans does send me swooning. Then of course, there’s the I like my coffee hot and black – like my men! quip, of which I never seem to tire. (Note: that also works with sweet and hot, rich and black, or any combination thereof, etc.)

Until I can learn to do without my regular cup – every morning or so, or at least on weekend brunch – I may never be able to truly answer that.

Quick Coffee Trivia (as per Martha and memories from working for The Big Green Empire):

  • Some places drip their coffee very light, i.e. they brew lesser amounts of grounds to make them last longer. In short: dripping light, bad, dripping heavy, good.
  • Espresso should cook between 17 and 23 seconds.
  • Many cafés run on the automatic machines now (the ones that don’t require measuring out grounds or tamping), but for those that don’t, notice the barista will grind new beans every few hours; this is because the cooking time will vary depending on the time of day and the weather/temperature. The old espresso grind must be thrown out, or in an ideal world, composted.
  • Really good coffee will still taste good cold. (Not as good as it does hot, but I’ve found it’s mostly true.)
  • For the record, Starbuck’s coffee is quite bitter and I’d rather go somewhere else for coffee if I can, like Peet’s or a local place.
  • Interesting to Note as I End this Post:

  • We grew up with instant in the house. I didn’t have real coffee until I was studying at a friend’s house in high school, and threw in coffee coffee thinking it was Nescafé or whatever. I ended up with a mouthful of grounds.
  • I once dated an Irish-Italian guy from Brooklyn who said “caw-fee.” Of course, I was irrationally enamored with this.
  • Strangely enough, I work at a software company for Java (that’s the computer language, not the drink).
  • So that is the extent of my culinary contributions this week: butter and coffee. Just the simple stuff. Maybe next week I’ll do a post on boiling water.

    5 responses to “A Cup, A Cup, A Cup, A Cup

    1. Love this post! It has me jonesing for a cup of the really good stuff right now. And a teeth cleaning.

    2. thanks, lucy! And I’m due for a cleaning as well. 😉

    3. ah, I am nostalgic for my collegiate 4-espressos a day or 8-cups-of=coffee a day rituals!!!!

      i love coffee still, despite my intolerance for caffeine…!

    4. I also used to drink pots of the stuff – ack!

      I usually drink one cup for a wake-me-up, and as I said, I do like it with dessert (black, or with a splash of cream).

    5. I think I shall make a nice little coffee for myself when I get home. I need a little pick me up!

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