Thursday, September 29, 2011

A fine excuse to enjoy espresso again




Today is National Coffee Day, and I'm not a bigot. I have catholic tastes. I am large, I consume multitudes. This afternoon, I did something I haven't done within my searchable memory: I drank some coffee.

Once upon a time, this wasn't so unusual. Coffee was my first stimulant as a young fool. Many a Sunday mornin' have come down with a cup o' joe. I enjoy coffee with dessert, especially. The bitter vs. sweet — happy warfare for the territory of my tongue.

I made a bean-line to Stella, a shop in my 'hood where I often retreat for afternoon laptop labors. They have a decent tea selection, and they know how to steep. But everyone else comes for the espresso, and if I'm going to join them for coffee then I want to taste coffee. Also, why volumize the experience with more water and milk? I ordered a shot.

Anything served in tiny glasses has my attention. I have racks of cordials here at home for the port, the sherry, the grappa, the homemade limoncello, and there are a couple of wee stemmed shot glasses in the freezer with the aquavit. Would that tea could be concentrated down to such a form — though I actually enjoyed some matcha once in a Los Angeles tea shop that billed it as "green tea espresso."

I'd forgotten two things about real espresso. One, the joy of crema. No dairy products required, just expert preparation to deliver that little cap of textural bliss on top. Second, the jagged experience of caffeine without tea's theanine. What a trip — the imbalance, the rush of yin, the feeling of being all jacked up and nowhere to flow. My body was alive, but my mind was still weary. No fair.

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