Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coffee Conundrum(s)

So, I have a secret: I sort of love-hate Starbucks. Yes, the ubiquitous coffee place. It reminds me a bit of Disneyland (which I loath, even though I've never been there), because everyone seems so happy and cheery. Maybe it's the sugar and caffeine high that people must be on, as they gulp down their venti, chocolate cocoa-puff latte with soy milk and extra whip-cream. WTF?! What kind of a drink IS that? A friend of mine shared one of my favorite Starbucks story, how when the chain opened its doors in Spain, first of all, people did not know how to order. "Café con leche" is about as complex as it gets. Secondly, people would sit down at the tables and wait for someone to take their order, which never happened. Talk about a culture clash!
But, as much as I disparage Starbucks, I really like to take a break once every other week and walk to the local Starbucks during the school day. It's a nice "get out of the school-grounds" break - maybe a mile round trip? I never feel that I've gone very far, however, because I inevitably see students or other teachers there. One faculty member recently said that she calls the Starbucks trips her "vision walk". That idea has a definite appeal and sounds almost zen (or something). So, yes, I do the trek, and usually splurge on a small (I hate to say "tall" and all of that other lingo) chai latte, a drink that I could probably buy out of a box and it would taste just as good! However, I tried a 'speciality' drink twice in the past year, and both times I felt as though I were drinking a candy bar melted into coffee. NOT an appealing taste to me, but apparently the marketing does work on the general population.
My usual source of "crack" comes from a local coffee shop/purveyor, Intelligentsia Coffee, which makes the nectar of the gods, or something along those lines. When Michael and I lived in Silverlake, we would go to Intelligentsia at least once a week, which was a pricey habit. So, a few years ago, living on one income, we decided that we wouldn't sacrifice Intelligentsia totally, but we did limit the drinks MADE there and usually just bought coffee beans. This is still the case, but more for convenience than for economy.
Still, there are times when I do enjoy a cup of coffee from Intelligentsia, and that has become much easier since they opened up a coffee bar in Pasadena, just a few minutes away! Unfortunately, this also means that students, those beings whom I teach, have wormed their way into Paradise, just some parasite that would destroy the perfect apple. Don't get me wrong, I like the students whom I teach, but I also enjoy a clear separation between my 'school world' and my '¿real world?'. It's like clothes that I want to wear when I go out on weekends - these are NOT school clothes and an item will become tainted once I wear it to school.
In the same vein, Intelligentsia, that coffee paradise, has been tainted.
I went by there on Friday, after school, to pick up more beans for the next few weeks. Now, the Intelligentsia cafe in Pasadena is also a bar, so Michael and I talked about staying for a glass of wine and a bite to eat. Unfortunately, all of the wind was taken out of my sails when I walked in and saw a group of SIX students. Fie! Damn you, all of you! I felt betrayed and violated. How dare they? Why don't they just stay at Starbucks, drinking their crappy coffee-whipped-cream drinks?
Hope springs eternal - maybe they will move along and find the "next cool thing"?

No comments: