Saturday, July 14, 2007

Don't Decaffeinate Me

You never know what you’ll see in the airport. And this morning didn’t disappoint.

I was headed south to Springfield, Missouri for some secret training with Leslie Curley and some not-so-secret certification through USAT. Arriving at the airport, I was early, already checked in, with over an hour to pass.

Coffee anyone? O’Hare is chock full of coffee choices about every 3 gates. I passed up the first Starbuck’s sure there would be another closer to my gate. The line snaked by several gates but I had time to wait.

Of course, waiting in line in front of me was an outlander. A decaffeinated misfit that had no business in our line. You know these people. You can spot them from far away. Imagine this – an older woman, manly short hair, pants hiked up over her hips, fanny pack slung over her shoulder. Who are these people and how do they find their way out of the house? And when she dropped the word daughter I thought how did she find the way into someone else’s house (and pants for that matter, seriously).

I know that sounds not so nice – but bear with me – especially after what she did next. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, after she spent 5 of those minutes woman-trapping the person that was in front of her in a conversation about Baghdad (if it’s not coffee in the coffee line than it shouldn’t be said – quiet please – because if you listen hard enough you will hear the best sound of the day – the pouring of the coffee into the cup – QUIET), anyways, after all of that she got up to the front of the line and….would you believe it……she didn’t know what she wanted.

I’ll repeat – waited in line 15 minutes and didn’t give a second’s worth a thought about the coffee she was waiting in line to order.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN MY COFFEE LINE.

The entire line gave a collective sigh. If not out loud then in their heads. Then, in further violation of coffee line etiquette, she started asking the poor barista that got cashier duty this early Friday morning at one of the busiest airports in the world questions about the drinks. Painstakingly, the barista listened and tried to help her sort cappuccino from macchiato, coffee from tea.

My foot is tapping. And if not my foot then a little imaginary foot in my head. Listen, if you can’t figure out the coffee drinks on your own you probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee in the first place. Trust me when I say that coffee does not want to be your friend. I’ve spent the past 12 years talking to coffee and this is what I know. Coffee is for the cool, overcharged, AAAA personality, can’t wait any longer people of the world. Not the wishy washy, passive, can’t make up their minds masses of decaffeinated. Coffee is far too potent and complicated of a drug for these people to handle in a small cup in one sitting. Dangerous for them to operate machinery under its influence, dangerous for them to even order in this line.

So please, get out of our line. And stay out of our crackhouses, I mean coffeehouses. And let us be. Let us step up to the line ready to roll off some musical mixture of Italian, French, and English all at once when combined produces a cup of 16 ounces of instant wake up while you waffle your morning away trying to decide if you want your flufferfluffcaramelskimsoydoppiodecafdepthchargedmacchiato in the small or medium size only to be told them don’t sell small or medium here.

Get out.

I know what you’re thinking. For coffeeless Liz at 6 in the morning, it couldn’t get any worse. Waiting this long, with certifiable coffee-outlander-kook. Could it get any worse? It did. The word soy came out of her mouth.

Let’s stop this coffee catastrophe now.

Because soy and coffee do not mix. You know that soy milk is not real milk and even real milk does not really belong in coffee. There is nothing wrong with drinking soy milk – but in your coffee? Come on. Coffee is a man’s drink and no man drinks soy milk. And if you are a man that puts soy milk in your coffee shame on you. Do you also put flowers in your hair?

She orders her whatever laced with soy blah blah shouldn’t be in coffee anyways and then drops all of her money on the floor. At that point I started to feel sorry for her but then she started into something that assured me she was certifiably crazy – the outpouring of random details to random person that could really care less. Like telling the barista you have been up since 3 am and you are very tired and your dexterity isn’t quite with you yet and you slept at your daughter’s house last night right next to her cuckoo clock – and she put you there because yes you are CUCKOO. Pointless. Details the barista really doesn’t care about. Just give them your money and get out of the line.

Finally, she steps to the side. Perfect, because that is where I am waiting for my Americano. That’s right – a drink you can order with one word. Americano. Three shots of espresso, hot water, cup, done and done.

Standing there, she woman-traps a person that really at this point just wanted coffee and not conversation. She starts going on, perseverating over the same details she tried to spill to the barista. The coffee couldn’t get to me soon enough – and the barista was certainly taking her time. I mean, how hard is Americano? You press a button, you pour espresso in, you fill the rest with hot water. Easy.

Easy enough to also screw up. Because what I had in my hand was not the Americano I was looking for. No, this was the watered down version from some rookie barista working in an airport coffee place that couldn’t care less. And now I’ve paid way too much money for something I don’t want to drink now. This is the worst place for a coffee lover to be. What to do? I love coffee so much I could never pour this out, but I could never drink it either. I won’t settle for anything less than my coffee best.

What do I do? What any coffee-obsessed willing to walk for miles for coffee would do - I walked to the other Starbuck’s about 20 gates back and pleaded me case. Please, help me. This is not Americano. This is not what I ordered. I do not know what is going on at that other Starbuck’s or what they are trying to sell. They don’t know what they’re doing. And you’ve got to understand if I drink this it will not be a good start to my very long day. I will be a watered down version of myself. I need this cup of coffee. And I need it the right way. Please please help me.

Know what the barista does? She smiled, and told me that Americanos require 3 shots of espresso – stopped what she was doing and made me a new cup right away. A moment later, I had the real Americano in my hand.

After that, the day was well on it's way to a very good start. And made it to Springfield to meet up with Leslie, Nancy, and Leah. We have already gone grocery shopping (note: never allow 4 triathelte women in a grocery store at the same time), scoped out the nearest Starbuck's (even though she drinks green tea lattes thank goodness for Leah for loving caffeine), bought loads of snackies for tomorrow's clinic (and ear muffs, mittens, and leg warmers - seriously put 30 of the leanest people in the midwest in one room and don't put the air at 55 degrees), we went for a swim, went down the water slide (much scarier than it looked), and now.....we are off to bed. NO, not in the same bed (much to the dismay of my husband's pillow fight with 4 women dream).

I've had way too little sleep and far too many peanuts. And tomorrow after a 9 hour clinic I have to fit in a 2 1/2 hour ride and 6 mile run. Ah, the life of a traveling triathlete. But honestly, as long as I can find coffee in the morning, I'll be ok.

But if you're waiting in line in front of me, beware.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I totally empathise with this whole situation. Coffee is has to be done right. I have a problem with any coffee shop that offers a Ristretto in different sizes, there are is only one way to pour 9g of coffee with 15ml of water. It is short poured, does not come in different sizes, otherwise it wouldn't be a Ristretto! (recent experience).

Simple solution, I have my own espresso machine and home and it is one of the most important pieces of training equipment that I own.