Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Gateway Drink

When I was going to high school, there was nowhere to get a fancy coffee in Cedar City. Kara Thompson and I would skip class (for me, this was usually seminary), go to Shoney’s, and share a pot of pretty crappy coffee while commiserating the state of our love lives (which were actually pretty jumpin’), our family lives (which were also down right reasonable), and living in a crappy one horse town (which did kind of suck).

I probably don’t need to talk too much about the Mormon/coffee connection. The bottom line is-they don’t drink it. It’s part of the “Word of Wisdom” which counsels against MANY things, including “hot drinks,” “strong drinks,” and even eating too much animal flesh (a caveat which most LDS people have conveniently dismissed.) It’s assumed that the caffeine is the enemy in the case of coffee—but caffeine in other forms is much more socially acceptable. In fact my #1 favorite Mormon joke is, “How do you tell a Mormon from a non-Mormon? Take the temperature of her caffeine.” (My second favorite is, “Why should you always take 2 Mormons fishing? If you just take one, he’ll drink all the beer.”)

Then, as I entered into my college years, the odd coffee spot began popping up. Those Cedar Cidians who were “into that kind of thing” were found scratching their heads at blackboard menus, trying to figure out the difference between a cappuccino and a late, as well as translate exotic terms such as café au lait, breve, grande, and vente. For years all I drank were cappuccinos and mochas because I knew what they were and how to order them.

Coffee shops came and went—and they all had 2 things in common. They were locally/privately owned, and the service and ambiance was crappy. Not much has changed in the last 10ish years, until very recently. Our 3 coffee places were ok. The barista was usually a college kid (and apparently, I’m an old lady) and more often than not, he/she was a bit grumpy. The shops themselves were all right, leaning toward the comfortable and hip, but falling short for a number of reasons. Then about 6 months ago, the devil came to town.


I stuck to my local coffee, as I do with most things. My husband’s family are all local entrepreneurs, so “shop local” is a matter of family, not just community loyalty. Yea, I did hit the drive-thru a few times when I had Soph in the car and didn’t want to drag her out into the snow. And yes, when E brought me a Starbucks in the morning I certainly didn’t turn it down. But today I went in.

Damn is that place nice! Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s all packaged and produced and designed for me to feel very comfortable and cool at the same time. And I did! Nice music? Check. Comfy seating? Check. Tasteful yet slightly exotic décor? Check. Friendly, helpful, and kind of hot red-head lady barista to patiently, but not at all condescendingly help me through my order? Check. I was having a MORNING today, and needed the big guns, so enter the Vente Cinnamon Dulce Latte. Yummy. Oh so, so, so yummy.

It’s official. I’ve been seduced.


Mark said...

That "kind of hot red-head lady barista"? Assembled by 8-year-olds in a Marianas Islands sweatshop.

400 children are scalded by hotness each year during barista manufacturing. Come towards the light...

JJisafool said...

I'm totally down with the shop local thing. My deal in our 'hood is I go to the little fair trade coffee place for actual coffee or short trips, but I go to Tullly's when I plan on using up two hours of table space while sipping on a small mint tea. Figure it is better to use of corporate space and leave open tables in the funky place.

But, and this is a big but, I will go wherever the coffee tastes right and the ambiance is right, even if it is a Starbucks or what have you. The locals need to step up, or get crushed under. I am SO willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. but if they suck, they suck.

American car manufacturers got murdered in the 70's because they thought "buy American" would save them when they were slinging an inferior product, and one consumers didn't want (big ass cars during the energy crisis). And they nearly died, insttead just amputating places like Flint. "Shop local" won't save local business unless local business saves itself.

Katy said...

I told you of the awesomeness of the cinnamon dolce did I not?? Of course I get the Frappucino so as not to break the hot drinks rule. Ha! Right tell that to the three cups of tea I drank last night. I'm a Starbucks clone. There's a reason that the pre-packaged, pre-assembled coziness works! Cuz people like it! And I'm people!

Allow me sometime to introduce you to the caramel apple cider. I talked the nice barista that was there last time I went into teaching me how to make it. Of the yum.

"I have impure thoughts every day and coffee when I can afford it."

Diane said...

Wow! Where did the Starbuck's open up? (I'm a CHS grad too)

I had some coffee at the first Starbuck's in St. George, and was unimpressed.

I'm more fond of the local/cozy ambiance as opposed to the cozy corporate ambiance, but I guess you take what you can get (in Cedar, anyway!).

My favorite (hot and cold) drinks they make are their soy chai tea latte (which you can fake if you ask nicely for a regular hot chai tea with hot milk/soy and put some honey in it) and their iced tea lemonade.

I hope Starbuck's stays!

~A~ said...

Starbucks is local.... for me. heh! So that eases my support of local business.

But I have much love hate love for Starwhores.

Evilloveness -

Drive through window. This was totally wrong until my driver side window went t/u and forced me to go inside and talk to people.

Breakfast blend beans - absolutely hands down with out a doubt the best coffee for a french press. Totally unscrewable from light to dark.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes Pumpkin and coffee. I'm such a weakling.

Other peoples stupid coffee orders - There's no bigger eye rolling enjoyment that hearing some one order a nonfat sugarfree soy hot chocolate.

Using your own cups - not only good for the environment but save a few pennies. SB is the only place that doesn't look at me like I'm on crack when I use my own cup or thermos.

Listen to Katy on the CAC - Elf's personal favorite. Oh and Steamers - Button likes Raspberry, MM and Pix like vanilla.

Summertime evilness - shaken ice tea lemonade. Lucky for me I've figured out how to recreate this.

Non coffee evilness. The little tumblers are kid tight and husband drop resistant. Money saving hint - buy them when they go on sale at the end of the season. Right now there are cute V-day themed ones.

There will be no fighting it so you might as well give in. And if you're very lucky to have one there, have a black apron make your coffee.

On the hill here we have tons of SB and non SB stores and stands and none of the non SBs are hurting because of the SBs.

Remember - black apron

Stine said...

Cedar city caved, wow. The Mormons have been invaded by the caffeine. My favorite was hearing my grandmother try to rationalize why she was drinking a diet caffeine free coke. I'm like grandma, you pick your poison, caffeine or aspartame - whichever suits your purposes.

I used to go into Starbucks a lot more, and I was a soy chai latte girl. Then when I stopped doing soy, I didn't go in as much. A is right about the shaken teas in the summer though, shaken black tea with lemon - yummy.