Portlanders, like their big sister Seattle, usually take their coffee on the go. But this does not detract from it’s pleasure.
Portland does coffee. And they do it the way it was really, I think, meant to be done. At its best, it is in a nook with comfy chairs a small table, maybe chess or a book or an interesting companion while you just stop for a moment.
But even if you can’t have it that way, we have a 3 cup rotation of mugs that serve as our commuting pleasure carriers. J’s commute is nuts. He needs more than coffee, he also has his books on CD. Mine is less than 10 minutes, so my joe goes with me to the classroom as a little respite from teaching.
The first time I met Mr. Latte, who I never really liked, was in 86 or so when Christine Wood, the beaconess of hip in our high school (she later went on to work at SubPop records and I think she is the booking manager, or was anyway, for the Seattle famous Crocodile Cafe where all hipsters collide and become famous for their Seattle-ness)took me to EspressoRoma up on Broadway in Seattle. Broadway was a hip place, and EspressoRoma had all the people who looked like they stepped out of a grungy artist hipster spread. So I sat there and drank this concoction served in a 16 ounce tall glass and concluded, naturally, “This is mostly just milk”. Christine worked at the same library where I worked and condescended to me enough to rise my neophyte level of hipness, if just a little. Anyway, I was unimpressed with Mr. Latte.
After that, I just really never was terribly interested in Joe. Seemed brown, watery and gave one bad breath and so what’s so great about that? It costs alot for the other stuff and I cannot drink it because it is so flippin hot… this is me circa 1990.
But then I had to get a job in college. And so there was Portland, and there was Coffee People. And then there was Starbucks. And I opened the place at 5:15 AM. I am a night person, everyone. I usually went to sleep shortly before I was supposed to be at work.
So alas, Joe presented himself again in my life. He was my trade. I really enjoyed working the espresso bar. I became a “bean expert” at Coffee People and then Starbucks indoctrinated me again to the way they did things (before they went public and basically sold out, amazingly enough, the coffee that used to only be good for 6 weeks was suddenly good for 12 weeks!).
Joe and I began to know each other better. As I started my early shifts with usually no more than about 5 hours of sleep I rotated between water, orange juice and a stiff americano that was short on water and long on 2%. Long about noon, I was as loopy as I ever get. Short on sleep and wired on caffeine, I was a force of looniness to be reckoned with. I dropped the early shifts because of the temporary insanity I suffered from sleep deprived caffeination and went on to nights. I never bought coffee, I had as much as I wanted for free. I never even really made it at home.
I thought it ridiculous that people had their regular drink, and like their cars, this drink was supposed to say something about them. Ok whatever. Folly if you ask me. But I never found anything better than that short americano with 2%.
But then the fateful day came where my hours dropped so low, only worked one day a week and if I desired Joe, I had to make him at home.
And mom gave me a ceramic Melitta cone, I bought a gold cone and I was a coffee snob.
After that, and particularly in my graduate studies, Joe was a tool or a crutch depending on how one looks at it (I recently had coffee at this little joint with the wierd name “Coffee Crutch”, seems awfully dark).
Now we buy coffee in 3 pound bags from Costco. We buy one or two a month. J used to drink coffee all day long, and I managed to encourage him to drink green tea instead. Now he only downs the better part of the 12 cup pot we make in the AM. We keep the beans in the freezer and for Christmas we got a burr grinder. I am still enough of a coffee snob that I won’t buy a Mr. Coffee machine (hmph!), but I don’t take my bizarre hangup that seriously, and usually keep it to myself, but am compelled to refold the bag in my old Starbucks way to reduce the amount of oxygen that will reach the beans. See? I am a snob.
But I am also a lover, and so I will never say no to coffee or degrade any that comes my way (unless my palms are already clammy).
I used to have a real blue collar guy type of roommate. He was a painter, like a house painter. He told once about his old girlfriend who would get up 2 hours before she had to leave so that she could sit and drink her coffee. He made fun of her, because she was an ex girlfriend and all. He said “She used to call it her ‘quiet time’ but I called it her time while she sat their and got jacked,” (on caffeine, of course).
Another friend used to make fun of me and that I held my to go cup up like it was a light for my path. I made fun of him on accounta he walked like a duck.
SO? Do tell your own coffee stories people! It’s January for cryin out loud. What else have you got goin on?
I was going to post about MLK, who I believe to be one of the most influential people in the 20th century, but that is so heavy, and I am hardly an expert, more like a hack. So coffee it is.
Tell me your story! Especially you! Yes, you!