imageSo, last night I was out for coffee with a couple of good friends, as is a past-time of many I’m sure.  Each time, I go out to my favourite coffee shop, I get razzed about my ‘highly‘ specialized order.  I don’t think it’s that outrageous…I mean, I am sure that baristas have made more complicated orders than mine.   I will admit that it is a bit demanding in that there are a few things that need to be etched on the side of my cup, but I happen to like my coffee a certain way.  I figure that if I’m going to pay good money for a cup of joe, I might as well make it worth my while, right?  I’m sure that some of you can relate to this, yes?

In thinking about my order, I must admit that I am not really sure when or how it all came about.  I think it was actually a work in progress in that all of the variations from the original drink came about one at a time.  My first few visits to the coffee shop must have been entertaining, though, as I had no idea what any of the drinks were…the whole espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha line-up was a little intimidating for one who had never ordered such a thing before.  But, they did sound intriguing and it wasn’t long before I was hooked on the taste of something sweet and creamy all at the same time.  Dessert in a cup.  Why not?  Add in the smell of java, in general, and I soon had my order downpat thanks to a few very patient baristas, as I hummed and hawed my way through the menu settling on a decaf mocha made half-sweet with skim milk and no whip or foam.  I mean, just hearing it makes me salivate.  YUM-MY!  Every now and again, I stray from my order changing up the decaf to caffeinated or the mocha to a vanilla latte.  But, all in all, my order is pretty static because it works for me and I love it!  I am aware that there is likely a whole psychological take on my coffee preference and what it says about me (haven’t they actually done studies on this?), and I am guessing that my nature as a ‘complex’ Gemini comes through once again.  Hey, it is what it is and the beauty of being forty-something is that I don’t really care how I am perceived, certainly not over how I take my coffee, anyway.  Whether or not I can afford it, may be a different story, but luckily for my pocketbook, I usually only indulge in this habit once, or twice weekly.

When I first met my husband, he had a heck of a time getting my order straight agreeing with my friends in how complex it seemed.  His order involves your basic coffee with a few too many sugars, in my opinion, but based on my order, who am I to judge?   On the chance occasion that he might decide to pick up a mocha for me, which he has since done many times, we had to come up with a strategy for him to remember my litany of requests.  We settled on a song using the specifics of my java order as the lyrics.  Interestingly enough, the melody of ‘Freres Jacques’ fit perfectly, and so it went:

‘Decaf mocha, decaf mocha,

Haaalf sweet, haaalf sweet,

Only want skim milk, only want skim milk,

No whip or foam, no whip or foam’

The funny part is that my husband would actually have to go through the whole chorus in his head (hopefully not outloud, though I’ve never asked), while standing at the counter, as the awaiting barista listened to his disjointed words. God bless his soul for endeavouring to do this for me, as I am sure it wasn’t his most favourite thing in the world to do.  But, he did and you know what?  The order was always right!

Actually, to add to the plus points he got for picking up decaf mochas for me, he even went so far as to buy me a fancy espresso machine (which I LOVE and use frequently) when we moved out to the country and skipping out to my fave java spot was not really an option.  Needless to say, I have come a long way from the naive girl who fretted over placing a specialty order on those first few coffeehouse visits. We’ve even packed the espressso maker with us to go camping. Yes, I know…a little spoiled and clearly not tenters, are we?

The truth is that I don’t mind getting mocked about my coffee order.  It’s part and parcel of my coffee dates out, and if nothing else, it becomes a topic of conversation amongst others, be it at a conference or around the staffroom table, as they notice the barrage of black pen marks listed on my cup sleeve, and feel the need to inquire.  I kind of get a kick out of it really, especially when friends, who have once hassled me, begin asking so that they, too, can adopt some of my drink modifications or customize their own drink further, just as my friend did last night.  Maybe, just maybe, I feel a little sense of satisfaction in converting them from basic coffee drinkers to the ‘other’ side?  Best of all, however, is when I have the chance to treat another person, as I, on occasion, decide to pay for the order behind me in the drive-thru.  What a great feeling, by the way, and I highly recommend trying this at least once, as the thought of perhaps making someone’s day in a small way, is sure to bring a smile to your face.   I like to think of it also as a way of ‘paying it forward’ from one coffee connoisseur to another.  (Or maybe it’s just that I feel badly for making the person behind me wait for the nut in front of them–that’s me–who must have one of ‘those stupid orders’ that takes so darn long?  Come on, we’ve all been in a drive-thru where that thought has crossed our mind.  You know it and I know it.)  Who knows, maybe after reading this article, you will feel inspired to go out and order your own speciality coffee, and better yet, find yourself behind me in the drive-thru on one of those ‘pay it forward’ kind of days?  Or vice versa, where you are in front of me, in which case I will pass along my advance thanks for truly making my day.  Either way, “Cheers” to a java-kind-of-way!


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