Friday, May 18, 2007

Coffee, Anyone?

It is no secret that I love Starbucks coffee. I worked for Starbucks for awhile, and loved the atmosphere, the opportunity to interact with all sorts of people, and of course I loved the free coffee. During any shift, employees are allowed three drinks! Wowza! That was back in the days before I had cut caffeine out of my life, so working at Starbucks generally made me very happy--all that caffeine and sugar! I had my favorites: a steamy hot chocolate, first thing in the morning, with a mound of fresh whipped cream . . . a caramel frappucino on a hot summer day . . . an americano just to enjoy the flavor of the coffee . . . chocolate milk to go with my peanut butter sandwich at lunch time . . . and of course, the ever-popular caramel macchiato. I loved to make my drinks myself with extra foamy milk, generous portions of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Oh my, I am craving Starbucks just writing about this!

When I was working at Starbucks and enjoying it so much, [sidenote: actually when I first started there I was really nervous all of the time because sometimes the drinks can be quite complicated. I actually had nightmares of people coming up to me and saying "I'll have a half-caf triple grande 2 pump 2% mocha, light whipped cream and no chocolate sauce, please." This actually does happen! Yikes!] John decided to apply for a part-time job as well. He was hired at the same store and we really had a fun time working there together. The funny thing is that John does not like coffee. And Starbucks requires all of its employees to go to coffee tastings and be able to describe their various coffees. (Like when a customer asks about the difference between Verona and Sumatra, just to name a few.) But John, practicing a "Star Skill" which is to ask for help, just deferred those questions on to another barista while he was working. Oh, he endured through the coffee tastings, but the taste of coffee just never grew on him.

Of course, John's dislike of coffee smashed all of my girlhood romantic dreams of sitting with my dearly beloved, leisurely sipping coffee and having wonderful conversations at chic cafes. Instead, he usually opts for a coke, and I have to find other people to indulge me and go out for coffee.

Now, you should know that my years in Asia only strengthened my love of coffee. This may be hard to believe, due to the lack of availability of good coffee there. Yes, there are about a zillion Starbucks knock-offs in our city, but after trying one or two, I gave up. The coffee simply tasted bad, or at least not as good as Starbucks. When we arrived in Asia I had a stash of whole beans with me and between that and traveling out to places where there were Starbucks, I was able to have good coffee at home very easily. I also found a cheap milk frother, which then allowed me to make my own lattes, cappucinos, and even Chai lattes (teabags sent from the States thanks to my friend Doris!). I got pretty spoiled drinking my excellent coffee at home, and it just didn't seem worth going out for coffee when I knew it would taste bad. I did, however, make the switch to decaf when I knew I was expecting Clara Anne, and still pretty much only drink decaf. But that is all right--I'm drinking it for the taste and the experience, rather than the jolt.

So, back to America again. At the moment we are living in Louisville, Kentucky, where there are at least 14 Starbucks. There is also a very good local chain, Heine Brothers, which I enjoy as well--they are the one exception to my "Starbucks or no coffee" rule. But, John still doesn't like coffee! So who will be my "go to the coffeeshop and hang out" partner?

Enter Clara Anne. Since we've been back in the States, she has seen me drinking a fair amount of coffee--both what I am making at home and the occasional cup at Starbucks. I think she associates the idea of coffee with a special treat, and so she always wants some sips of my drink in order to share in the special occasion. Since I drink decaf and don't use sugar, I usually think, Ok, why not? So I've been letting her share a bit when I have a cup in hand.

Last week Clara Anne and I were out for a walk while John and Chloe were at home. My feet seemed to magically lead us towards the Heine Brothers that is only a 10 minute walk away, so since we were headed that way anyway, I suggested, with a twinkle in my eye, to Clara Anne that we go out for coffee, just Mama and Clara Anne! She immediately agreed and we made our way there. I ordered my (fairly) usual: an iced decaf americano with some half-and half. With a child's eye, she quickly spotted the crayons, coloring books, and Care Bears game under the barista's counter, and we had a lovely time playing the game, sipping the coffee, and then coloring a picture. It was a sweet and special mommy-daughter time, and the coffee was great too!

Perhaps I have brainwashed my daughter to like coffee, and perhaps that isn't such a good thing, though it was what happened to me: whenever I would stay overnight at my Grandpa and Grandma Bruxvoort's home, I would sit down and drink coffee with them at "coffeetime"--midmorning every day. Of course there was a lot of milk and sugar in that coffee, and Grandpa teased me that the coffee would "put hair on my chest," but I felt like such a little lady having coffeetime with them.

And now the tradition continues! What fun! Thanks, Clara Anne, for going out for coffee with me!


Erica W said...

Let me just say that you and Clara Anne are not alone. Elizabeth has decided that coffee is the drink for her. This is her daddy's doing. I have come home on more than one occasion to find my daughter has coffee breath! Steve promises it is just a really small lick but I wonder!!
Perhaps it is a brainwashing thing, but I suspect we can anticipate Clara Anne and Elizabeth 13 years from now headed out together for a cup of joe... :)


Josh Culbertson said...

Rachel, I have found myself in your predicament as well - I love coffee, but my husband doesn't. You give me hope that maybe my son or daughter will want to go to Starbucks with me one day! For now, I'll just enjoy it at home and with a friend occasionally. :)