Coffee musings

Saturday, December 9, 2006

It’s one of those days again. I don’t have much planned to write. In a few hours I’ll head over to Steven’s for a night filled with video games. But first I have to Goal. There are days when the Goal feels like a chore. This is not one of them. Even with nothing planned I’m looking forward to sitting here with my mug of Folgers’ drip coffee and pounding away.

Speaking of coffee—it’s always nice to free associate on unplanned days—I’m a bit of a coffee snob now. “Now” is probably too strong of a word. Up through a few years ago I didn’t even drink coffee. (I’m experimenting with dropping the early commas—let me know what you think.) I began my addiction at the bucks of stars in Houston, Texas. Tamer and Natalia, two former colleagues and current friends, dragged me to the bucks during our coffee breaks. I ordered hot chocolate. It was embarrassing.

This wasn’t the first time I was embarrassed by ordering hot chocolate at a coffee joint. When I was working in NYC, we travelled to D.C. often for a case we worked on. At the D.C. office, one of the partners used to take us out to the bucks of stars there. This was before the bucks of stars became popular in the city, and at the time, I don’t think I even heard of it. (Take that with a grain of salt. Remember, I don’t trust my memories from last week, let alone seven years ago.) I certainly didn’t know the difference between tall, grande, and vente, or cappuccino and espresso. The partner was an addict, however. I used to look down on coffee addicts. I used to think they were weak because they relied on drugs to live their life. I was wrong, of course. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to Houston: After a while I began experimenting with mochas. Mochas are hot chocolate with steamed milk, a shot of espresso, and a dab of whipped cream. If you look back through (not something I recommend you do on an empty stomach), you may notice a correlation between when I started writing in earnest and when I started drinking yummy caffeine. I didn’t make the connection then, but there may be something to it. I won’t discount that it was during Houston that I started this website, and it was the website that provided me a vehicle to share my thoughts. Without a place to share my thoughts I probably would never have recorded so many of them. (We’ll leave the value of these recordings for another day.)

Speaking of mochas, I never understood the people who dissolved the whipped cream into the coffee. It seemed such a waste. Like my theory of butter on waffles and bread (the butter should never be allowed to melt), I like my whipped cream whole. It’s only when whipped cream is in its solid form that I taste the yummy fattiness. The only exception is that I sometimes spoon the whipped cream up and dip it into the chocolate, which is the only acceptable exception. Okay, that was a completely random thought, even for such a random musings that came out of nowhere.

After leaving Houston I arrived in Seattle, the coffee capital of the world. At least that was how they branded themselves. And seeing how the bucks of stars originated there (in Pike Street market), I guess they have good evidence that coffee did become popular here in coffee shop form. In Taiwan the coffeehouses have become popular as well. They replaced the boba tea places (I didn’t spell that correctly—it’s the milk teas with the tapioca balls at the bottom that you suck up through a very large straw). And, not surprisingly, many of the coffeehouse chains in Taiwan claim to have originated in Seattle. I’ve been to most of the Seattle coffeehouses and I have my doubts about that claim. I imagine the Italians may have a different view of the history of coffee.

It was in Seattle that I began to experiment with different coffee houses and coffee drinks. I moved from mocha to cappuccino to Americano (my Houston boss’s favorite drink—he swore by the vente-sized one) to drip. Doolies bought us an espresso machine for the Castle. This has been a wonderful addition as I can write in the evenings with a hot mug of coffee.

I am now at the point where I can drink anything to get my fix. I do have preferences. The baseline is the bucks of stars coffee. It’s a decent blend and I find that the coffee and the flavored coffee drinks are adequate if a bit on the sweet side. The higher end coffee is usually made by the independent coffeehouses scattered throughout Seattle. Even among those houses I have my preferences.

This has been a very long way for me to say that I’m okay with the Folgers brand I’m drinking in Brooklyn. It’s clearly of a lower quality than the bucks of stars, but it has caffeine, and, as you should be able to tell by these words flying off my fingers—I wish there were a way to convey the velocity of the words—the caffeine is what enables me to write.

So, as I was saying, I’m in Brooklyn with a mug of Folgers coffee, sitting in the living room with my mother. She is playing Sudoku on a new electronic gizmo that my brother-in-law bought. It is late afternoon after a not-so restful sleep last night. Doolies called me after I fell asleep, and my mother received a late night call. The telephone ringer in my sisters’ old bedroom (where I sleep when I visit) is very loud. It went off a few more times after I woke up.

I spoke to Randy, my youngest sister, for a while this morning, which is what made me think of my history of yummy caffeine drinking. I was talking to Randy about her life’s plans. She wants to write a book as well. Not a fiction novel, as is my never-going-to-happen plan, but a non-fiction entrepreneurial book. She asked how I got through the losing focus part. I pointed her to my track record, and the fact that I’ve never written anything of note. But after providing disclaimers and hemming and hawing, I gave her my advice: write every day and dose yourself with proper dose of caffeine. It’s difficult to find the right dosage, but once you do, the focus and the inspiration become secondary.

We also discussed my personal growth over the last few years. Obviously Doolies played an enormous part in this growth. But I told Randy that yummy caffeine came in a close second. But for caffeine, I wouldn’t be writing or thinking as much as I do. I can’t believe I wasted so much of my life without drugging myself.

Speaking of Doolies, I realized over the past couple of week that the more I’m apart from Doolies, the more I revert to my childish lazy ways. And I’m not saying that to (again) make her feel guilty for abandoning me. There, I’m doing it again, and boy does it feel good.

Okay, enough. I’m hoping to get back to synopsizing tomorrow. Today I felt like ranting and reminiscing, and rant and reminisce I did.