What’s your coffee flavor?

I use to be a vente, 2%, no-whip mocha, but I decided it was too heavy on the chocolate flavor, not heavy enough on the coffee flavor AND was lacking a bit of caffeine (it takes a lot of caffeine to power a type-a PM who is working on a big project, while back-filling a key team member for the last couple months, and now the holiday season…BTW, all the presents are purchased & wrapped and 58 Christmas cards with an updated family photo are in the mail!).

I’m now a grande (coffee size), 2% (milk type), light-whip (whip-cream), triple (# of espresso shots), 2 pump (# of chocolate syrup pumps) mocha…mmmmmmmm…this stuff should be illegal!

The problem with my new coffee order is a) it’s a bit complicated, b) novice baristas don’t often understand it without asking a couple questions, and c) when the barista yells out my coffee order when it’s ready for pick-up, a few peeps might mentally slap the ‘boy…she’s high-maintenance’ label on me…but, I don’t really give a @#$%…I NEEEEEED this coffee.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the coffee joint allowed you to use a Java card to place your order and pay for your coffee…thereby completely eliminating the cashier in the middle of you and the barista making your precious brew…and therefore removing an additional opportunity to screw-up your coffee order and saving you time and them $$$ by making the cashier role an additional barista? They could sell more coffee quicker.

Plus, it would remove the need for the barista to yell out coffee orders by their sometimes complicated characteristics when they’re ready for pick up…they instead could call out your Java card # (or transaction # or public identity element (like your 1st name, nickname, etc.) on your Java card…so the paranoid security geeks don’t get their panties in a wad for publicly disclosing your Java card #).

OK…back to the PM salt mine…

  1. #1 by Anonymous on November 30, 2004 - 9:48 am

    All the caffine and none of the icky coffee taste… http://www.peppermints.com

  2. #2 by Kreig on November 30, 2004 - 9:42 pm

    Starbucks used to have a phone ahead coffee service. It was short lived, most likely due to people being delayed in their arrival and getting a cold cup of joe. As for the difficulty in ordering you might play with the syntax of your order. Much like McD’s the associates are listening for things in a specific order. Try ordering your drink then your side and then your burger at any fast food joint and see how much you confuse them 🙂
    Grande, two pump, percent, light-whip, triple shot mocha.

  3. #3 by Dennis Clarke on December 4, 2004 - 10:25 pm

    <center>Welcome to Your 12 Step Program</center>
    One of the common mistakes made with regards to the caffeine content in coffee is to assume that a �stronger� or �more processed� drink contains more of that drug you are addicted to. The truth is opposite to what you suspect. More processing done to the coffee bean simply reduces the content of trimethylxanthine or caffeine. It should seem reasonable that you would perform less abuse to the coffee bean in order to maintain the potency of the drink. Your �espresso shots� are not really helping matters. You may like the taste a great deal but then again, you may also enjoy American made beer. Both are lacking the central component that you seek.

    The secret to making a cup of coffee that has both a rich taste and retains the drug that you crave is to buy the mild roast beans yourself. You then buy a high quality coffee grinder that uses a burr mechanism to reduce the beans to relatively fine power. Avoid coffee grinders that use rotating blades or other high RPM heat generating devices. These devices do a fine job of mashing the bean to a fine power while also ruining the drug content of the final product.

    Once you have about 50 grams of coffee powder you then use a gold-plated ( or platinum ) wire mesh basket drip tray coffee maker. Do not use paper filters that are filled with bleach or other chemical post processing artifacts. I personally use a high grade coffee maker which has a fine wire mesh basket that is gold plated stainless steel. The basket can be hand washed and reused over and over virtually forever. Why pay for bleached paper filters that ruin the coffee taste? Say goodbye to endless waste and switch to neutral non-reactive gold plated wire baskets.

    You will now need a decent cup.

    Yes, I am serious.

    The coffee cup must not be metal nor plastic. It needs to be good old fashioned bone china or high grade ceramic. Think stoneware.

    Next step is to pre-heat the cup with hot water from the faucet. Don’t go through the trouble of making a perfect pot of coffee and then pour it into a cold coffee cup where most of the heat will be wasted simply bringing your cup up to a higher temperature.

    Pre-Heat the cup.

    You will thank me for this later.

    Next step is to actually make the pot of coffee. I personally pour in enough bottled water to make nine cups of coffee. That is for two people having two large cups of coffee each. This works very well and gets done every day at my house.

    Last but not least. Ensure that your coffee cup is large enough to hold twice the amount that you would think is reasonable or sensible to carry single handed.


    You must never leave a well made pot of coffee sitting on a heated waiting tray for any extended period of time. You are far better off to pour yourself a nice large cup of coffee, save yourself the trouble of going back for number two within fifteen minutes anyways. This will ensure that when you do go back for that second cup that your coffee cup is large enough to get pre-heated once again ( just run a bit of hot water in there ) and that you will finish off the remainer of that pot without ever leaving any to sit and become oxidized or �cooked�.

    Everyone will agree that coffee left sitting on a hot plate for hours simply tastes �wrong�. There are even those people that will pour a cup of cold coffee into their cup and then microwave it. The next day. These people are heretics and wanderers from the faith. They should be educated and re-integrated into proper engineering society. Or dealt with harshly.


    <small>p.s. : my coffee cup says �Texas� on it and I bought it at a novelty shop that thought it was a joke.It is simply huge, oversized, and clumsy.It is perfect.</small>

  4. #4 by Skrocki on December 5, 2004 - 10:20 am

    WOW! Thanks, Dennis! So, what model coffee maker do you use and can it make espresso (or a similar ingredient that tastes as good if not better)? My coffee habit is $4.11/day ($5 w/ the barista tip). If I could make my mocha at home, I’m assuming it’d be more economical, but more importantly, more convenient…so I could continue to bump my habit to the next level. 🙂

  5. #5 by Dennis Clarke on December 5, 2004 - 5:06 pm

    <hr><center>The Horrible Truth about Coffee Makers</center><hr>
    Well actually the coffee maker is almost irrelevant.
    Yes really.

    We need to disregard the espresso maker and talk about the regular cup of coffee around my house. My primary field of study was material science. This required a heavy dose of computer science also and explains my current chosen profession. Regardless, I may be spending my days and nights in front of computers these days but I once spent days and nights in physics labs. The great joy that one finds in the late night physics lab is that you’re generally not alone. Even in a really well funded institution like the one that I attended ( think physics labs as big as football fields and your own nuclear reactor ) you will generally find other guys wandering the halls at three in the morning. Coffee cup in hand.
    Thus begins my tale. So please get a cup of coffee and let me unwind the history of how I became initiated into the true nature of coffee. This is where my addiction became more than just casual.
    It was many years ago. Late at night, oh, about three or so in the morning. That time when the terminals begin to get fuzzy and my head was having difficulties keeping an upright position over my neck. The really big cron jobs were running and my code was crunching numbers and the lab was quiet. I knew that it would be a while before I would get the data from my X-Ray spectroscopy experiments in any case and I needed to stand and walk a bit.
    Perhaps the cool thing to do on a cold January night would be to go to the observatory and hang out with the astronomers and other guys in the space program. Maybe I’ll just wander around the physics building a bit. I needed to get up and walk as it would be hours before the sun would begin to wake the world and I would be left blinking into the day watching the students begin to wander to classes.
    I walked along different halls that night. While cutting a path from one building towards the lower lecture theaters I wandered through the fifth floor office area.
    A light was on in an office and a bright thin blade was cutting out onto the dark hallway floor. My curiosity was the same as anyone elses I guess. Everyone would naturally want to walk more softly and perhaps even try to slip by unnoticed. But I was wearing hard sole shoes that made a distinct footstep even when I tried to land heel first on the rubber sole.
    As I tipped up the hallway and stole to the door to look inside I was met face to face by Dr. McBride. Looking out at me. Bloody hell, the director of research administration! Also, my professor.


    &ldquo;Good to see you up and about Dennis&rdquo;, he said.
    &ldquo;Dedication, always good to see.&rdquo;
    Dr. McBride had opened the door and looked straight into my face and the light that burst into the hallway made me blink. I am sure that I looked less than brilliant at that particular moment. He had already turned and wandered back into his inner office and lab. The outer office was a place for a secretary and it was all neat and orderly. The inner office was something akin to organized piles of books and letters and papers and deep leather high back chairs. Think along the lines of Sean Connery in the movie &ldquo;Finding Forrester&rdquo; and you will have a good idea of the sort of man I am talking about. Same Scottish background and same age and looks more or less. The exact same Scottish accent which made listening to physics lectures quite entertaining. This man could read the phone book out aloud and it would sound fine.

    Besides being in the company of a brilliant mind at three in the morning I was also struck silent by a smell. You know that smell. The rich wonderously silky smooth carpet thick smell of coffee. A delight that instantly causes any sane person to stop frozen in their tracks and take a long deep whiff with eyes closed.
    Really exceptional coffee.
    Good coffee, I have been told, is better than sex. Exceptional coffee is, well, you get the idea.
    When I had looked at his coffee maker I said something rather stupid, &ldquo;That thing is your coffee maker?&rdquo;.

    He turned and swore at me.

    I guess that I should not have been surprised. He was a Scot after all. He was a world class bag pipe player and a brilliant mind. This was no lecture hall. All of these things should have prepared me for a large grey haired man to swear at me at three in the morning.
    Two words. Four letters and three letters. Make your own deductions.
    I said, &ldquo;I was expecting some fancy luxury coffee maker and not a bunsen burner, a flask and some glassworks from the chem lab.&rdquo;
    &ldquo;Really?&rdquo;, he said. Scottish accent in full swing and after a few years of listening to him in lecture halls and labs I knew better then to step into that open ended question like an idiot. His razor sharp mind would dissect any stupid thing that I was about to say in any case. I decided it would be best to display my own brand of brilliance.
    &ldquo;Uh …&rdquo;, was what I said. Sinking into a chair.
    He reached onto a shelf and pulled down a very large brown clay cup and then turned to another bunsen burner which was busily heating water over a small blue flame. The steam from the water flask was freezing onto the office window into a myrid collection of frost patterns which were in turn lit by moonlight. The frost was melting at the bottom of the window and dripping into the office radiator. Such was the general state of Dr. McBride’s office.
    &ldquo;Do you know what coffee makers really make Dennis?&rdquo;, he asked.
    Without waiting for more of my acumen in motion he simply said, &ldquo;They make money.&rdquo;
    &ldquo;From people such as yourself who fail to look at the first principles of what they are doing.&rdquo;
    I was thinking that people that give lectures are most likely well seasoned in the art and generally fall into a lecture hall way of talking regardless of the audience or the venue.
    He picked up the boiling water flask with large tongs and filled the clay cup. He then went over to the flask with the deep black coffee in it and then, peering up close at the glass column above it he gave it a little tap with his finger. Adjusted his glasses and gave out with a shrug. He emptied the clay cup back into the water boiler and then used those same tongs to pick up the coffee flask. He then emptied the coffee into the cup and handed it to me with one word, &ldquo;Cream ?&rdquo;
    &ldquo;Yes please, if you have it.&rdquo;, said I.
    &ldquo;Why the bloody hell would I ask if I didn’t have it?&rdquo;
    &ldquo;Let me get that for you.&rdquo;, he said as he turned to get a small dainty china cream pitcher which was as out of place in this office as one could possibly expect. It instantly suggested that there was a universe somewhere that had a need for floral prints and gold embossed fine bone china. It was not remotely cold. It was, in fact, filled with luke warm cream. I was happy to add a bit of this to my coffee.
    This coffee was something that could only have been made by the hands of God himself. It was hot and it was dark and it was, simply put, the finest cup of coffee that I had tasted in my entire life up until that point. My face hid none of these revelations.
    By this point Dr. McBride has sunk into a chair with his own large coffee cup. A cup that had &ldquo;Super Grand Daddy&rdquo; blazoned across it in large pink letters.
    &ldquo;My mother had left that in her will.&rdquo;
    &ldquo;What’s that?&rdquo;, I said. I was completely wrapped up in my coffee.
    &ldquo;That little creamer there.&rdquo;
    &ldquo;Oh, yes, very pretty. I guess its okay for cream to be warm for a while&rdquo;, I said. I was looking for the secret ingredient of course.
    At this point Dr. McBride explained that cream will sit just fine at room temperature longer than milk. In fact, he pointed out that the little expiry date on cream in the stores is usually way out in the future compared to milk. Everyone just knew this long before stores were putting labels onto cartons. If one were to live on a farm then you would use a milk separator to get the cream to rise to the top. This was done once you were done with the morning milking of the cows. There was well water and there was fresh milk and cream. No additives.
    &ldquo;So then, what is the secret to this amazing coffee?&ldquo;, I asked.

    Tune in tomorrow to find out what the secret is.


  6. #6 by Nick Martinez on December 20, 2004 - 10:25 am

    I have become a grande americano with room kinda guy. It comes with 3 shots and costs about $1.50 less than my regular latte. Pour in a little cream and it tastes just the same(sounds like my mother).

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