Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Baristish? Starbian?

I am out in California visiting the folks. Last time here I remember finishing the can of regular coffee that lurked in the dark corners of their freezer. You see, they have officially banned caffeine from the premises. So, like most caffeine addicts, I can't ignore my vice, and have to track down some brew to quiet the java monkey on my back. I purchased this can of coffee four visits ago, and stashed it in cryogenic storage, knowing that I would be back.

This time though, it was gone. The folks have sold the house, and are moving to a semi-assisted living apartment, so it didn't make sense to buy more. After arriving on Saturday night sans cell phone, I ventured out early Sunday to track down a replacement. Coffee! Where to get my coffee. I rarely drink hot coffee after June 1st, so I ran to the McDonalds near the Sprint store I had been doing business in. I discovered however, that McDonalds in California doesn't have iced coffee. Bummer! Theirs is actually pretty good. OK. Starbucks it is.

Now, I'll start this by saying that I just don't like Starbucks coffee all that much. I know all of the hype is overwhelming, but personally I just find it to taste burned. That classic char-broiled coffee flavor seems to lend itself better to a cold drink though, so I sometimes get iced coffee there. You see though, the problem is: I JUST DON'T GET IT! What is IT you ask? The whole damned Barista-speak thing.

I looked at the menu and saw "Iced Brewed Vanilla Coffee". I asked for a Venti (medium for you non-believers) Iced Vanilla Coffee. I then asked if they had something other than sugar to put in it. "We have syrups... vanilla, almond, amaretto.." "No," I said. "Something sugar free". Oh, we have a sugar free vanilla syrup." "That would be fine, and some cream too." She looked at me and said "OK sir, but the next time you order it you can call it a %$%^&^*$#%&^*&^" I say %$%^&^*$#%&^*&^ because I don't get IT. It seems to be some odd language that I just can't comprehend. I guess I'm missing some crucial gene that allows me to understand Barista-speak. It must be the same gene that tells me that their hot coffee tastes like it cooked on hibachi coals for half an hour. What ever happened to just ordering a damned coffee?

Now, I have to at least explain one more thing. Many people will read a rant like the one above and assume that I am not a connoisseur. You see, that is far from the truth. I love the coffee in the small roaster-shops like J B Peel, Monkey Joe, and Porto Rico Importing. I will go into such a place, sample a brew, and ask for a recommendation on what to buy, based on what I thought of the sample. I brew using a Melitta manual #4 drip cone, using fresh water, or with a Toddy cold water coffee system. Far from the no-name coffee brewed in the scale-encrusted auto drip like I used to.

So hear me one and all, you followers of the church of Starbian. I don't get IT, and NEVER will. No, I don't want a pamphlet explaining your beliefs.

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