Nov 17, 2009

Falling in love with a coffee shop

by Rachel Joseph

 I am in love with coffee shops. Notice that I did not say “coffee” or even “caffeine,” but rather the vessel that embodies these wonderful substances. And why do I love thee so? Oh, let me count the ways …

Actually ordering a drink in a coffee shop is an accomplishment in and of itself. There must be some kind of amnesiac-type chemical that wafts through the coffee-laden air and tingles your nose as soon as you walk in. Or maybe it is those big splashy boards with a bazillion different latte choices on them. Whatever it is, if you had an idea of what you were going to order before you walked in, it is gone by the time you reach the counter. You are on your own to devise some type of coffee beverage in the next 7.3 seconds before the jittery guy behind you whacks you with his briefcase. He needs his coffee. And so do you, right? So back to the issue at hand.

Once you have decided on a drink that sounds like it might be palatable, you have to figure out how to translate it to the barista. Baristas are hyper, abnormally friendly beings who only speak one language: coffee-nese. It is now up to you to decide if you want a tall or a grande, a doppio or a solo, decaf, half-caff, .254575-caff or regular. And which is bigger anyway, a tall or a grande? Doesn’t the tall sound larger? No matter. So you spew a jumble of words that somehow translates into your drink, and within a minute, a beautifully crafted creation awaits you at the end of the coffee bar.

That drink becomes part of your very soul. You endured the process of carefully selecting its parts under extreme pressure and ordering it in a foreign language. Who cares if it is any good? You are now known by that drink. The next time you walk in, that barista with an uncommonly strong memory will say, “Hey Joe! Do you want your regular?”

It is music to anyone’s ears — people know you and your drink.
As you continue perusing the coffee shop, you notice the other benefits it has to offer. For example, there are plush couches and delectable pastries. It does not matter that those pastries will permanently clog your arteries or that the same teenager who was slumped on the couch yesterday is occupying it yet again today (maybe he’s homeless and the coffee shop is letting him stay there. Gee, aren’t coffee shops nice). There is the ambient lighting, the indie music, the barista who sweetly asks how your daughter’s ballet recital went.

I am in love with a coffee shop. Most people consider themselves addicts of coffee without realizing where their true addiction lies. So the next time you order your iced double tall breve extra whip mocha, stop and think that maybe, just maybe you too are in love with a coffee shop.

Contact Rachel Joseph at

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