Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two Minutes For Roughing The Drinker

A cup of coffee is a lot like Facebook. You can love it or loath it. Some people love it so much that they become addicted to it. I'll never become addicted to Facebook, and I'll certainly never be held in coffee's grasp. To prove this, I conducted a little experiment...

Last year I was photographing windsurfers on the frigid Bay of Fundy. The Bay is inhospitable at the best of times...these were the worst. Standing onshore, wearing inadequate clothing, in blustery, cold water fuelled winds left me feeling like some sort of rigid cadaver. I was chilled to the bone with my arms and legs approaching a dangerous state of near lifelessness. I knew that a hot cup of coffee would restore vigour to my ailing limbs. So I hopped into my car and used my club-like appendages to somehow navigate my Ford Focus station wagon to a nearby Tim Horton's (like we're ever truly far from one!).

As I pulled up to the drive-thru window I had an epiphany...order my coffee black. I'm attracted to coffee that has a light cream complexion, but it's the sugar that knows my true weakness. This one time, I managed to break my habit of ordering a double-double cup of trouble. I summoned the courage to actually speak those hysterical words in to the microphone...

"Extra large coffee, black. That's all, thanks."

I clawed some change from my pocket and forked it over to the Timpersonal attendant, then off I sped toward the highway with a cup of jo(y) between my legs. I started to regain feeling in my lower extremities, then I drank ever last drop of that coffee and, once again, felt the lights turning on upstairs. Amazingly, the one thing that I remember clearly was how awful the coffee tasted without cream and sugar. On that day I decided that I didn't even like coffee. I was a cream and sugar whore, and not much more.

So I gave coffee up, cold turkey.

Fast forward to February 2009. I was in New Zealand where I found myself in a cosy café nearly every morning. The coffee in New Zealand looked (see image above) and sounded so delicious with names that swirled in my mind like a fleet of dancing Vespas: cappuccino, latté, macchiato, espresso, cafe mocha. Compare that to New Brunswick's drink of choice...a double double. The words 'double double' sounded like something that would stagger off the tongue of a parched Neanderthal.

"Can I take your order please?"

"Ugg...dubble dubble."

Since returning from New Zealand in early March I've been back on the coffee. I bought a French press in New York City and I've been using that to enjoy the occasional morning mug at home. I'm still experimenting to see where my coffee boundaries are drawn. Always in experimentation mode I carried out another experiment just two days ago.

Wendy and I had dinner at Pomodori in Rothesay on Sunday evening. Pomodori is a restaurant that does three things brilliantly: wood-fired Italian pizza, gourmet coffees, and gelato (Italian ice cream). I ordered a latté and it was magnificent. Our pizza was of the white variety with ricotta, thyme and pine nuts. This pizza made a slice from Pizza Pizza or Pizza Twice taste like a bloated double double. The gelato made me want to sell my house and move to Rothesay.

Later we attended a private event at the Imperial Theatre. After three rum and Cokes, I decided that the drive home would be more enjoyable if I was a little more perky, so a coffee was in the offing. Getting a decent coffee in Saint John at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night is like trying to find the love of your life in a biker bar, so I did what any college educated Neanderthal would have done. I Freddy Flintstoned my seatbound ass to the Tim's drive-thru.

"Extra large coffee, cream, no sugar. That's all, thanks."

I took one and a half sips from my Tim Horton's coffee before stopping my car and pouring the remaining contents out on the highway. It tasted like battery acid. I half expect there's now a monstrous pothole where the coffee ate away at the pavement.

I think that having a great coffee on the same day as an awful one was the most useful of experiments. In fairness to Tim Horton's, comparing a gourmet latté to an ordinary joe is not unlike pitting a Porsche Carrera against a moped, but a moped should at least take you to some other place. Tim Horton's coffee took me back to the cave.

"Ugg. Want double double?"

"Ugg. No thanks."

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