Tag: coffee

A Starbucks Dilemma

I’ve decided to venti a little bit about what’s going on at my local Starbucks. It’s starting to drive me crazy and I’m beginning to think that there’s some sort of grande conspiracy to make it that way. I swear, only in americano can a company get away with such silliness.

Consider this: I go into my local Starbucks every morning around 5:30 am. I am one of the first customers of the day so when I go in, there is usually no one else around and I’m able to go right to the register and order my usual.

After handing the Barista my Starbucks Gold Card (still not sure why I have to call the person who pours me plain old Gold Coast coffee a “Barista”), I spend the next fifteen seconds or so watching them pushing buttons in a futile attempt to log onto their cash register.

I swear, there is more security to get into a Starbucks cash register than there is to crack the code at the Federal Reserve Bank. Every time you place an order, they have to enter a 22 digit combination just to get the damn thing to open. I think part of the new employee orientation must include having to memorize the line: “Sorry, it’s a little slow this morning”. Ya think?

Then there’s the little issue with the vanilla powder. For those not familiar with it, vanilla powder is one of the many items you can use to decorate your coffee with (nutmeg, cinnamon and chocolate are also additives you can use). I prefer to use the vanilla because, (using coffee vernacular) it makes it taste smoother. The problem is, 99% of the time I go to reach for it, the container is EMPTY.

Now, wouldn’t you think that since this product is being used so often, it just MIGHT be popular and they’d have a latte of it?

Don’t get me wrong though, my addiction to a good cup of Joe espresso-ly forbids me from going a day without,¬† so I’ll suffer through.

Besides, there’s no way I’m going to settle for the coffee at work.

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Inside Information

The other day I finally got around to adding the $15 i-Tunes gift card I received for Christmas onto my i-Tunes account. I have to admit, although I do have a lot of songs in my playlist, most of which converted over from old CDs, I haven’t had much desire to purchase anything new as of late and hence my delay.

But with fifteen bucks beginning to burn a hole in my pocket I started perusing the list of what’s currently being classified as “hot” to see if anything struck my fancy. As expected, I began to become a bit discouraged.

Call me old (well, on second thought don’t) but I’m from an age where music and lyrics actually mean something. Having a robotic voice singing to a pre programmed beat and calling it music just doesn’t appeal to me.

And what’s with all these different versions of the same song? A song, and album for that matter, should always stand on it’s own. But yet I saw a listing of a current “hit” with no less than four different versions of the song to choose from: one done by the original artist, another a re-mix version with some rapper I never heard of, yet another version done for a Kidz Bop CD and finally one done by the cast of the TV show ‘Glee’… “This is Hot?” I asked myself. “More like cold. Cold as ice”.

Hmmm.

I typed “Foreigner’ into the search box and suddenly there she was again. The black and white album cover of the lady with one eye: Inside Information

I didn’t want to see the date it was released. I knew it was a long time ago. Ok, twenty-five years if you really must know. An album that sold 1.6 million copies worldwide and one that also has some history with me and suddenly I started to remember. This was just one example of an entire album that related to me.

It was a typical Friday night two dozen summers ago. High school was over and college had been delayed temporarily for me due a lack of funds. I was still living at home and spent most of my days working 9-5 for minimum wage in the receiving department of the local supermarket trying to save money and start my music education journey at community college.

Say you will. Say you won’t. Make up your mind tonight.


Once the whistle sounded that Friday night it was time to jump into my orange 1974 Ford Torino and meet my fellow musician buds Nathan and Ronnie for a night of debauchery. At least that’s what we called it. I suppose that in some countries ‘debauchery’ is still defined as hanging out at a miniature golf place making plans to become rock stars and then having cheese fries and coffee at the local diner. It worked for us.

 

I still don’t remember how the Inside Information cassette got into my possession. I figure it must have been one of the twelve cassettes I initially chose for a penny from Columbia House as part of my initial membership. A membership that I never completed. But that tape was the soundtrack to my life for months in the summer of 1988.

I don’t wanna live without you ~ live without your love.

The funny thing about cassettes is, it’s almost impossible to skip a song on one of them. Unless you have the patience and where withal to meticulously fast forward or rewind you were pretty much stuck having to listen to the entire album in order. Suffice to say, I had neither of those qualities so I got to know every track personally from “Heart Turns To Stone” all the way through to “A Night To Remember“.

With windows rolled down we drove up Northampton street (or “The Strip” as it was called) to the echoes of Lou Gramm singing about teen angst and young love blaring from my Kenwood stereo system. Passers by would glance at us strangely when we’d stop for traffic lights but that didn’t bother us. It was a magical time. This was freedom and we were Counting Every Minute of it that we had. And we weren’t just listening to your every day Richard Marx or Michael Bolton tune. On the contrary, this was raw, pure unfiltered rock at its finest. And the words that Lou sang defined what we had in store for the evening:

I feel mean tonight ~ One-eyed jacks and aces
Read ’em and weep tonight ~I’m gonna let all hell break loose.

For the next several hours me and my homies did just that: raised hell cruising the strip and visiting the V-7 miniature golf range. I was feeling particularly lucky that night and my play proved it. Much to Nathans chagrin I sank three hole-in-one shots that night, including one through the dreaded windmill. But during my hat trick run I noticed that Ronnie seemed to be a bit distant and I’d soon discover why.

It was on the drive to the diner that Ronnie began insisting on wanting to listen to “True” by Spandau Ballet to help heal his heart of a high school love gone wrong. Ronnie was the first of our trio to be in a serious relationship that had gone sour. Right now he wanted consolation but Nathan and I wanted nothing to do with it. A Spandau Ballet cassette would never be seen in my record collection let alone in my car. “Those days are over man and you screwed up”, I told him. How ironic it was that the words to “Heart Turns To Stone” began to play to remind Ronnie of the mistake he made:

When she was with you, all along ~ Behind you, right or wrong
She tried to hold on, hold on ~ But you went too far, and she’s gone

To this day I still have no idea what the hell it was he did that went too far and ruined the relationship. The song  just seemed to fit the moment and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Eventually we ended up in the diner counting pennies in our pockets to pay for coffee and french fries covered in cheese. Even though it was well after midnight just knowing that we had no where to go and nothing to do in the morning was comforting. We could easily have stayed there all night discussing women, music and songwriting and how all three were going to be a huge part of our lives as soon as we became rocks stars. But it soon became apparent that bed was calling.

Before getting back into the car for the final drive home Nathan decided to begin singing ‘Heartache Tonight’ by the Eagles right there in the parking lot:

“Somebody’s gonna hurt some one…. before the night is through.”

Which was soon accompanied by Ronnie and I in full three part-harmony: “Somebody’s gonna come undone… there’s nothing we can do”…

Perhaps it was a good thing it was midnight and no one was around for it might have been the most horrific version ever done. But late nights and copious amounts of caffeine and cheese have a tendency to throw you off key while singing A cappella. Yeah, that was my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, two dozen years after that night to remember, Inside Information was added to my i-Tunes playlist. An album I loved but had completely forgotten about. And although the V-7 has been closed for years to golfing I think one of these nights I’m going to give Ronnie and Nathan a call.

We’ll take a ride up The Strip in my 2010 Toyota Rav-4 blasting Foreigner again and seeing if the magic is still there.

Coffee

I was trying to think of a witty title for this entry. “Ode to Coffee”, “Java-Licious” and “Joe Momma” all came to mind. But in the end I simply decided that the single word speaks for itself and should not be tampered with.

I’m talking about coffee. That wonderful dark brewed beverage with a slightly acidic flavor that’s prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The drink that starts every morning off for me (and one that goes great along side a bowl of Count Chocula if you really want to know).

I can just imagine the joy the early Ethiopian settlers must have had when they brewed their first pot over an open flame. As the sun rose over the African terrain and they took that first sip I’m sure it was probably equivalent to that of when man first discovered fire and invented bacon. And centuries later we’re still giving thanks.

Having been around for such a long time might make one take the glory of coffee for granted. But not me. I don’t just blindly pour a cup from a pot in the office kitchen. For me, coffee is much more than just a drink. Coffee is an experience. Half of the fun of drinking coffee is in the camaraderie of getting into a car with a bunch of your friends and making the excursion to obtain the nectar of the Gods.

I know that there are some heathens out there who like to ruin the coffee experience by putting things like whipped cream and sprinkles into their cup of joe. These folks should have their java card taken away. Sweetness is necessary but not at the expense of turning coffee into ice-cream.

But how do you make a perfect cup of coffee? I’m glad you asked. There are actually only four steps needed to obtain the proper cup of coffee from any reputable coffee establishment:

1. Order a 20 oz (or Venti) sized coffee. Always go for the big size. If you are going to enjoy coffee it’s best to not go too small where you’ll be wanting more when your finished. Upon your last sip you should be completely satisfied with your coffee consumption. Not too little. Not too much. Just right. You know, like Goldilocks.

2. Under no circumstances should you allow a barista to place sugars/cream into your coffee. Always take it black and prepare it yourself.

3. Pour in the equivalent of two creamers. Coffee should have a slight milky consistency. Not too dark. Never allow a Dunkin Donuts barista to add cream. Their “2” creams are more equivalent to “30”. I want to drink coffee, not milk.

4. Add six packets of Equal to taste. Add half packet extra if necessary.

I know. You’re probably thinking “What kind of man puts Equal in his coffee?” And all I can say to that is “Don’t Hate”. As I’ve said before, a little sweetness is very much necessary and encouraged.

So the next time you’re standing in line at Starbucks, in the Mickey Dees drive-thru or putting a K-Cup into your Keurig remember to give thanks to those tribesmen who made it possible all those centuries ago. There’s is a gift we never will be able to repay.

And last and most importantly: always enjoy responsibly.