Coffee Talk

I surprised myself today by drinking only one cup of coffee. I usually have three or more, so this was a big change. I was so busy today I didn’t even notice.

My coffee habit began like all habits do, while working at a Starbucks. It was my last year of college and I often worked the opening shifts. The shift started at 4am, so I had to wake up at 3:30am to get there on time. Because I was in college, and worked with other college-age people, we would all roll into work, having only slept for a couple of hours. The first thing we would do when we got to work would be to turn on the espresso machines and make ourselves a coffee drink. I would make myself a second coffee drink a couple of hours later, and this repeated until the end of my shift at 1pm and I would go home sleep deprived and amped up on caffeine.

When I first began working there I would have the sweet drinks with all the caramel and vanilla flavoring. After a year of working there, I was on straight espresso shots. I’d gone through every drink there, and realized when it has to count, espresso is the way to go. At one point, early in my barista career, I was drinking breve lattes, which are made with half-and-half. Heavenly, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I started to feel like I was starting down the road of diabetes and clogged arteries with every sublime sip I took, so I went off them.

There was a regular customer, a lady with frazzled red hair and crooked lipstick, who would come in and order a venti breve cappuccino, all foam, and sprinkled with a crap load of toffee chips. A venti is 20 ounces, so essentially she wanted 20 ounces of thick milk foam and toffee. If you were new, she would return the drink until you made it exactly like she wanted. Needless to say, I became a master at turning regular, everyday half-and-half into the thickest, creamiest foam known to man. And I also went through a phase of super thick cappuccinos.

I eventually left Starbucks after I graduated from school, but I took my coffee habit with me. I worked in a few other independently owned coffee establishments, and became pretty skilled in making espresso drinks. At one point I was that barista who could do latte art. I could make a heart or a fern leaf. Nothing fancy like you see on Pinterest, but it still impressed the customers. I knew my way around an espresso machine, and this opened up new possibilities for my coffee habit. I made lattes that tasted like roasted marshmallows. The subtle sweetness of the milk mixed with a perfectly roasted bean. This isn’t magic, it just takes good milk foam and outstanding coffee. You have to have perfect timing when pulling the espresso shot, so as not to strip the grinds and cause it to be bitter. I’ve never experienced this marshmallow flavor in any other coffee besides Blue Bottle, regardless of the milk or skill in pulling it. I’ve tried coffee shops all over San Francisco and beyond, and Blue Bottle is the only coffee that seems to have the capacity to create this lovely taste. I am open to any arguments to the contrary, as one of my favorite things to do is try new types of coffee – another thing I picked up from working at Starbucks. We had regular coffee tastings, and were encouraged to discuss and describe our experience tasting it. It was book-club in feeling, and was a nice moment in the day between customers ordering Frappuccinos for their children.

So when I saw this new Blue Bottle kiosk, I had to take a picture because it made me happy that I won’t have to go all the way to Hayes Valley to get their famous espresso. They also sell whole beans, so I can also have Blue Bottle at home. Score.

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