Deconstructed Coffee

So, this came through my news feed a few weeks ago, but as I’m up entirely too early today and I’m currently drinking coffee, I thought I’d hit on this.  It’s a Distractify article on how some Australian woman was angry over deconstructed coffee.

I admit that sometimes I don’t understand comedy or satire because I take things at face value.  So, I’m not really certain if this is satire or not to be honest.  Ya know, where the person likes something but for some reason they mock it because it’s funny?  Those things?

But apparently some woman in Melbourne ordered coffee and instead of getting, I’m supposing a take away cup with coffee and cream, she received beakers with espresso, hot water, and cream… and pitched a flying fit about it.  I’m thinking she really was upset about it, and well I’m not sure there’s a reason for it.



Deconstructed Coffee | >>

First, she does say she just popped into some random place to get a coffee, which would mean that she’s never been in the establishment before and probably didn’t bother to actually read the menu… or read anything.  If a place is serving something out of the ordinary, they’ll state on their menu what it’s about.  If they’re jerks it’ll just have a kitschy title and honestly, you should just ask since you don’t know what it means.


Pour-Over Coffee | >>

I have never experienced deconstructed coffee.  While my city is large for my state (but is a joke in the actual cities category of places elsewhere in the US or the world), we’re still relatively isolated from new ideas and generally jump on board the bandwagon years after something has started up.  The Pour-Over method of making coffee, which large cities have seen, experienced, and are probably beyond at this point, has really only gotten started in my city in the past year or two and is all the rage now.

Actually coffee is really new in this state.  People drank drip Folgers at diners, cafe’s, and at home.  Then there was probably one lonely coffee-house in the state capital in the early-mid nineties.  No one went to it except weird people, so the majority of this states citizens thought that coffee houses were dens of ill-repute basically.  But, Books-A-Million showed up with a coffee cafe inside and people thought it was strange, but warmed up to it because it was so bright and homogenized.

In my city alone, there are no less than seven different coffee places right now.

  • Starbucks – x 3 | one on the uni campus, one in Target, and one stand-alone.  There were two stand-alones, but it was one too many… at the time.  Now, it would get business.
  • Java Moes – x 2 | these are drive thru coffee establishments and they have two locations.  They took over when Seattle Drip left those locations.
  • T-Bones | was just a record store, then a record & coffee-house, now also a cafe and bookstore to boot.
  • The Depot | is a coffee-house and cafe.
  • Java Werks | is near the university and was kind of bitchy when they first opened.  They sold to people from Venezuela and it’s still a coffee-house but they also serve Venezuelan food items.  It’s not bitchy and is rather nice now.
  • Southbound | is a bagel place only open in the mornings, but they serve coffee drinks, and not just drip.
  • Joe Muggs | it’s just B-A-M, but it counts because they serve coffee drinks.


So, rewind to 1995, in my city, and all you had was Joe Muggs inside Books-A-Million.  There was also nothing open later than 10 PM, except for bars and IHop.  The Sister had visited that lone coffee-house in the capital on several occasions and had lived in LA and come back home.  This place needed a coffee-house, so that’s what we did.  We opened on in the basement of our house for two reasons; 1) the red tape involved for opening a new business, one that stayed open late, one that served drinks or food was ridiculous.  2) in the county, we wouldn’t have to go through all of that rigmarole and there would be no extra rent since it was our house.

We knew nothing about coffee beyond what we’d had in other coffee places in our travels and from a Starbucks pamphlet on how their drinks were made.  We partnered with French Market Coffee out of New Orleans.  They set us up with an industrial brewer and grinder, thermoses, filters, a few French Market mugs, coffees, espresso, and syrups.  We purchased a home quality espresso machine on super sale at Service Merchandise.  She did partly model our coffee-house, The Cubbyhole, after the one in the capital, The Lounge.

We both had squishy armchairs, sofas and books.  But they were a little more hardcore, if you will, and not as quaint, so they didn’t have board games, decks of cards, and the like.  While we just made the basics; drip coffees, shots, cappuccino’s, latte’s, caramel or mocha, and iced coffees and espresso’s, we’d also make Italian Sodas, whip you up some milk chocolate if you wanted it, and if you came in with a new coffee drink, we’d make it for you, if you knew what it was.

A few months after we opened, another coffee-house opened.  They’d been busy while we were, though neither of us knew that.  They were from New Orleans and had two coffee houses down there already and expanded here because there wasn’t one.  They could only stay open until ten, and closed within six months.  I had people bad mouth me for forcing them to close down.  “Did you talk to the owners?”  “Well… no.”  “Hrmm… because if you had, like I did, you’d know they already owned two, and they decided they’d rather be back home with their family, because this was taking too much of their time and was too much to juggle.”

I always went to new coffee places when they opened.  Not to secretly judge, but because I enjoy coffee and it’s a new business in the community and I’m going to try them out and give them some business.  If it’s a nice place and the coffee’s good, like any other person in the community, this is what will decide whether I come back or not.  So, when that coffee-house opened, I went.  I went there on several occasions and talked with the owners, just because you talk to people.

I’m finding though, that I think this is not what people do.  If you have a business then you don’t visit the “competition” unless you’re scoping them out and judging them?  Apparently you can’t just support people in your own community.  My thinking was always, “Hey!  We do the same thing!  That’s cool.  We have something in common.  We can talk about it if you want, but really I just wanted to enjoy some coffee and see your new place because I live here.”

Plus I never really thought of these places as competition, so to speak, because we weren’t the same.  Not that one or the other was better, but we ended up being The Lounge of this city.  We were the hardcore coffee-house, so to speak.  These other places didn’t want to do late night.  Perhaps 10 or 11, but not later.  They mainly all wanted early morning and day hours and respectable clientele only.  They didn’t want art gallery nights, ‘zines, local bands, or AA and NA members.  They didn’t want what we had and we didn’t want what they had, so what’s the competition?  We both sell coffee?  Big frickin’ woop, man.

Now we did have people who couldn’t play nice, and we had to ask them to leave, but we are the family that other people don’t really want around and we had all the people who others don’t really want around.  We wanted them; we all made family, but they weren’t necessarily wanted at the other establishments, by proof of them trying to visit and being treated coldly because they weren’t the “right” sorts of people.

There was also a bakery that opened a coffee-house after us.  We frequented them.  They were a 9 – 5 business only.  Mainly older white ladies and prim and proper people, but you could get coffee and perhaps a sandwich (and those were good) and sit outside (because no one really utilized the outside seating) or else leave and run errands.

Then another one popped up the following year.  A drive thru coffee place with sandwiches and things.  We went there sometimes.

Then The Mercury Coffee Theatre.  We got flack about that one too.  The guy who owned it ran The Wag (local scene paper) and was in a band.  They, the band as well as this one guy, loved our coffee place, even played here and featured us in his paper.  They wanted to do something similar, but not similar at all.  They wanted to turn the old uni movie theatre into a venue for local bands… and serve drip coffee.  So the flip side of a bar basically.  It was a cool idea.  It was cool.  I went a lot.  The people who went weren’t always cool.  If it had only been them, I would have stopped going, but some of the bands knew me from playing at my coffee-house and the owner was always there and they were always nice, so I kept going to hear the music and try hard not to let the “cool” kids want to tell me how much of a loser I was or that I shouldn’t be there.

When they closed down though, the rumour spread again that we forced them to close.  “Did you talk to the owner?”  “Well… no.”  “Hrmm… because if you had, like I did, you’d know that the owner and his family moved to such and such place because they wanted to move.  I’m sad he’s gone.  I’m sad this place is gone.  Ran them out of business, please!”  Oh, man this is so long ago, I can’t even remember his name or why he left.  He was a journalist, I think, and all of this was in between uni and a job he wanted.  They moved because he got the job he wanted.  I know that, but I think it was journalism.  Seems correct.

I was in high school during all of this, but post college when we did finally close, but high school for everything I’ve written.  I’d like to say all of this talk was strictly from teenaged school mates, but it wasn’t.  It was from teenagers, as well as college age to people in their thirties and forties saying we closed people down.  People, generally speaking, are stupid; following blindly to lies piped out to them by people angry over only the universe knows what!

Moving on though, we got an Albertson’s grocery store, which was awesome… and to make it even more awesome, it has a Starbucks inside.  I’m beyond Starbucks now, not because I’m too cool for school, but because it’s expensive and I never really enjoy anything that I order.  Plus the people at ours used to be really nice, but they all left and there is still one nice guy there, but yeah, the others aren’t swell.  Also, I’m not pro smoking, but we are smokers.  You can’t smoke outside of Starbucks anymore because the non smokers wanted to use the outside, only they don’t because it’s really hot here, so I can’t get coffee and hang out outside anymore, and nobody really uses the outside and what was the point?  And the interior was always homogenized, but now even more so after their redecoration, so it’s just lots its appeal.

But, a hidden Starbucks here in 1999/2000-ish was beyond awesome!  And the people working there were really swell.  Well, 2 out of 3 were swell.  But then it closed and they put in a different coffee place and then Albertson’s closed, and that last bit is still sad.  By this time, it was just the bakery, us, Joe Muggs, and the hidden Starbucks.  Everything else had closed.

Then we got one Seattle Drip drive thru.  I went a lot, but by the late 2000s the mom of the family basically told me I was insane and creepy, while her family didn’t agree, in a job interview and I stayed away for four years.  Perhaps I am a bit creepy or weird, but it was a goddamned job interview and the family acted like they were embarrassed by their mom and like she hadn’t taken her meds that day.  They’d apologized for her weird behavior before in the drive thru, though she’d not tried to rip me a new one on those occasions.  It was really bad.  She was so mean, I cried before leaving the mall’s food court.  When I finally came back, her sons were actually excited to see me, and apologized again for that incident.

I could say it was probably all about me being a customer and they might lose money.  They might have, I mean I told my entire family about that incident and none of us went back again.  But, at corporate places where the workers don’t own the business and don’t care if they lose customers, I was always treated nicely, like the workers actually did think I was pretty alright.

They would bother to learn my name and knew any of all the drinks that I ordered, would give me free things, or a drink if they thought I was feeling blue.  Even the managers were like, “Yeah absolutely” and I wasn’t that good of a customer.  I mean I did frequent these places, but I doubt Starbucks, even this one branch, would lose any sleep over my lack of spending anymore money there.

If I look at it from a logical perspective, I’m a pretty nice person; not shovey or demanding, not needy or clingy, not creepy or evil, and in a sea of jerks, these workers I think saw a breath of fresh air in my arrival.  “Ah, it’s her!”  A bit of normalcy in knowing what I was going to order, knowing I would be nice and kind and treat them with respect; treat them like people.  That sort of thing.  I didn’t do it looking for rewards, I do it because I know what it’s like to be treated as lesser than or something icky and I never want anyone else to feel that way, so I just like treating others with decency and respect.  And I think they wanted to reward that because it was a nice break in their otherwise hectic days.

While I never expected even the first over and beyond bit of treatment, I certainly never expected others to follow at later dates.  All of them meant a lot to me, not because “Hey, I got free stuff!” but because of the gesture alone that signified mutual respect.  They saw me, they accepted what they saw and didn’t judge me.  It was heartfelt and nice.

I also understand that people in business are just doing their jobs, so I never expect people to learn my name or my order or talk to me.  Ever.  That’s just a really unexpected bonus of niceness right there.  What I do except is a normal amount of respect that anyone should give another person.  I’m being nice, giving my order in the correct fashion.  I’m not clipped or snarky, yet if workers roll their eyes or me or are snarky with me or are just really rude, I’m not going to like it.  I’ll even give lee-way on the fact that this might be an off day for them.  But when most of the workers do it, every single time I come in, making it extra clear that I am not wanted (it’s clear when they treat you like this, but not the people in front or behind you, though they’re not friends or friendly with these people), then I’m done with that place.

No one has to be excited that I’m there.  Hell, they could speak in monotone and act completely bored.  It’s the negativity and the anger or agitation coming off their faces or our of their voices that I won’t tolerate.

Hell, even in other states, I’ve had people in coffee houses be nice to me.  Not even fake business nice, but nice.  I can’t be all bad, right?
And… I realize that what started as a coffee drink I’ve never tried ended up down some weird road, I’ll wrap this up by stating, that woman can’t really bitch because she should have read the menu or asked what “Fru-Fru Frilly Coffee” was (I’m guessing it might have had a weird name).  Besides, that actually looks really cute, all in little scientific style beakers and you can make it as strong or weak or as creamy as you want.  I wouldn’t mind trying that just once.

I can’t because the cats woke up me at 7:30 this morning.  This is what you get when the cats wake me up too early.  This!  It’s a mess.  Bless you if you read it the entire way, and double bless if you actually enjoyed it!  o_O  <— I was just making something akin to this face.  It’s 11:30 now.  There has been, thankfully, time spent away from this computer, and it was to feed and play with the cats.  Silly nutters!


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