*$$$ (Starbucks)byKrenna Smart©
(*) ($$) - Starbucks
"I'll have the phonetically enhanced coffee I said to the starry eyed Server at Starbucks."
"The what? was his reply?"
"You know, I said. The Super Grande Mocha Cappuccino latte."
"Decaff?" he asked.
"Of course" I replied, not wanting to confuse him.
"Do you want cappuccino or latte?" he asked.
"Both," I said.
"You can't have both. It's either Cappuccino or its latte."
"Oh," I said, embarrassed by my lack of advanced coffee knowledge. "Why can't I have a latte cappuccino?"
The guy stared at me like I was from another planet.
"Okay, I said. "What's the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?"
The frosty-haired women with the white miniature spaniel behind me in line cleared her throat. I looked at her. She looked at her watch, I got the picture.
The line behind me was growing and the crowd was starting to look ugly. I realized these people were serious about their coffee
How can anyone be serious about something called a mocha decaf white chocolate latte with whipped cream on top at 7:30 a.m. unless they're drunk out of their skull and haven't gotten home yet to sleep it off is my question.
But these people all seemed to be geared up and ready to meet the world this fine, rainy LA morning. All they need is to have their pumps primed. With phonetically enhanced coffee. Decaff, of course.
None of them seemed hug over from their single malt happy hour adventures the night before. Maybe their brains regenerate over night. They work all day in an atmosphere so stultifying they can only order one syllable drinks in the p.m. and make up for it in the a.m. by ordering the most complicated coffee concoction Starbucks can come up with.
I finally settled for a grande Americano and went to sit in the corner and watch the scene unfold as I waited for my cuppa.
This I think looking around is America at its best. A cup of coffee with a wireless computer connection so the left hand doesn't get bored or out of shape while the right hand holds the cell phone to the ear.
They make the straws long enough so you can sip through them with out letting go of either connection.
You can even bring your dog into Starbucks as long as it's no bigger than a bread basket, matches your outfit or your hair, looks like its owner, is wearing a shirt and reminds the owner to tip. I made that part up. The tipping that is. Everyone knows its proper etiquette to drop your change into the tip cup just loud enough to let everyone know you're not a dead beat.
Have you noticed? White dogs are in this year. I wonder what the folks in Watts think about all those pretty little mega-dollar white puppies the yuppies carrying around. Black people in tiny apartments have huge black dogs and white people in big houses have small white dogs. Go figure. Maybe the white owners think they're carrying a weapon. Watch it. I'm carrying a loaded pup. I realize my mind is wondering in a politically incorrect path so I curb it.
I shouldn't be so snide. I really do love Starbucks. They're the McDonalds of the coffee culture. I feel at home there. I recognize the logo and know the color scheme. I know the low-fat blueberry muffin I drink with my decaf won't stick to my butt like the Egg McMuffin I used to eat. And it tastes just as good. Really it does.
I know the bathroom will be clean, even though it is bisexual.
I know the servers are clean. I know they're smart 'cause they went to Starbuck academy. I know they're peppy from inhaling all the coffee fumes.
I know I can sit for hours nursing a single cup of coffee while I job hunt. That is the best part. And I don't have to envy them their job. I don't think I could bear yelling "Mocha grande super cappuccino latte, decaf" all the time with a smile on my face
It's a crying shame my parents aren't alive to see the gentrification of the coffee shop. They were the original coffee fanatics. My father beat Mr. Coffee to the punch by 25 years back in the fifties when he hooked the old percolator to an alarm clock which he set for 6:00 a.m. The smell of fresh brewed coffee jump started the entire family every morning until I left home at 17.
My dad was too modest by far. Had he thought to patent that coffee timer he'd have died a multi-millionaire. We took fresh perked coffee awaiting us at sunrise as a fact of life not realizing what a potential gold mine my inventor father had come up with. The coffee went right along with the blasting a.m. news radio which joined our morning fray the second my dad walked into the kitchen. KYW news Philadelphia would stay on all bloody morning, every morning. Ackkk.
But the coffee was superb. My parents drank it like water. They went through at least three pots a day. Morning, noon and dinner and decaff? Fugetaboutit. No way Jose. Ah how my mother would have loved Starbucks. Phonetically engineered coffee. What a treat. Too bad ya can't smoke inside anymore, she'd complain. "The world's going to hell in a handbasket. "How in the hell can I enjoy my coffee without a cigarette?"
My mom would have looked at the board and growled how the hell do you get a straight cup of coffee here. I don't want a cappuccino latte grande. I just want a cuppa joe. My dad on the other hand would have been transfixed. He'd have had to try every one. Each would be better than the next. That was the difference between my parents.
My mother was an angry smoker who needed the fix of the caffeine, tobacco and alcohol to get her through the day. My dad was chronically depressed and thus always pleasantly surprised when things went well or tasted good or what ever. Fresh, early morning coffee was a mystical experience for him so he created a way to have it. That was back in the days when the A&P ground its 8:00 coffee in the store and boy did it smell good.
Those were the days. A simple ground, roast coffee. No Vanilla café latte mocha grande expresso cappuccino for me. Good God, I can't even say it with a straight face.
Right around the time of the '70s gas crisis there was also a coffee crisis. I forget exactly what happened but the price of coffee started to sky rocket. My mom started hoarding 3 pound cans of A&P coffee. The refrigerator in the basement was stocked with it. As were the closets and the kitchen cabinets. She was a depression kid and knew the score. Best to be safe than sorry. So every time she went to the grocery store she came back with about 24 lbs of coffee. That went on for about a year.
And me. I don't drink coffee. I'm a Pepsi Generation kid. People look at me funny when I order diet Pepsi at breakfast. Heck, we all have our vices. Caffeine is caffeine is caffeine. I cut my teeth on coffee. It puts me to sleep. Besides, I like the bubbles.