I freely admit it: I am a true coffee addict. My day, productively speaking, doesn’t start until after I’ve had my first couple shots of espresso (or at the very least a cup of strong Irish Breakfast tea during the winter).
I used to work as a barista for an independent coffee roaster. I LOVED my job. I learned so much about coffee, met amazing people who took coffee as seriously as I did, and had what amounted to an all access pass to high quality, hand crafted espresso. Since I left that job to move across the state, I’ve struggled finding a good cafe to call my own. My last six months in Pullman, I did eventually develop a good raport with the baristas in our local Starbucks there (I know, I was shocked but these people actually COULD make coffee).
I recently moved back home to finish my BA at Evergreen and to start writing full time. We have a lot of local indie coffee shops in town but they are definitely not all created equal. It’s a delicate process finding a place that makes coffee to the standards I prefer and has a atmosphere and clientele I find creatively energizing. And it helps if they keep really late hours since my best work is done in the evenings 😉 I found a place that fits these bills. They’re a little expensive but I don’t actually mind paying a little extra for a place where I can sit and write unmolested and find mentally stimulating without being distracting.
The thing about caffeine addicts, when you need it to wake up, when you get the headaches from not having it, when your whole day starts with that first sip: if someone serves you something shitty it has the power to wreck your entire day. Yes, this happened to me this morning and no, I’m not quite over it. I thought blogging about, getting all my angry feelings and frustrations out would help flush the mental block it’s managed to create so I can actually get some work done today. My writing habits aren’t complicated. The fact is I get more work done when I’m working in a public space away from home, so I liked to go into a cafe in the evenings, buy a cup of coffee, and write my mandatory words for the day (anywhere between 1000-2000 words, which usually takes me about 60-90minutes).
It’s in the low-mid 80Fs today and I was craving something cold, blended and creamy so I went in and ordered a dirty blended chai. Mmm, a truly sinful indulgence. I paid $5.86 (with $.50 tip). I was handed something that more closely resembled dirty dishwater, and it TASTED like dirty dishwater too. To say I was upset it understating things. I didn’t yell, though I probably should have demanded a refund. I gagged about an inch of it down before I had to give up, left it on my table and left. I went home, pulled out a packet of Starbucks Via (those little instant coffee packets which aren’t GOOD but are palatable and have caffeine) and blended one up just so I could be awake enough to do anything.
I’ve managed to salvage my mood but this was a real blow to my schedule. I’ve managed no words and I wasted the last of this week’s spending money for nothing (I really do try to ration how much I actually spend on my coffee addiction since I’m technically unemployed right now).
I had an interesting conversation with a former classmate the other day about the “expectancy to tip” she encounters from baristas. I argued that making good coffee really is something that should qualify someone for tipping, that it’s something you should do when you get consistently high quality espresso. Is this terrible experience some sort of bizarre attack by karma? I’m not sure, lol.
Are there things that can make or break your day? Have you had exceptionally bad coffee (or restaurant!) experiences? On the flip side, have you had a barista give you something amazing and improve your entire day? I’d love to hear about it.