Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Coffee Thoughts

I'm reading a book right now. Yup, a real book. Not a magazine but a real book.

It's called “Coffee - A Dark History” by Antony Wild.
I got it on Amazon dirt cheap, used. But it looks as if it's new.

Anyway, there is a paragraph that I really enjoyed, I'll just type it here.

“ Coffee had become universally consume in the nations of Europe and in the USA, much of it in coffee houses that became meeting places for men of commerce, politics, and culture. The effect of caffeine itself insured that there were always likely to be lively, well-informed debates and intense, original exchanges, in contrast to the only other public meeting places of the time, the tavern or church. The coffee house played a pivotal role in the creation of many of the financial institutions that in turn supported the expansionist trading empires that had led to the growth of coffee consumption in the first place.”

That paragraph made me think of what people believe coffee houses are these days.

Before I dove into this whole new world of coffee, this is what I thought of coffee houses. I thought they all were more or less like Starbucks. Whatever that means. I thought that coffee houses were places for college students to come and do homework or study. I thought coffee houses were supposed to have outlets all near the tables/chairs so people could bring their laptops and surf the net.

What are coffee houses to you?

Josh:
I find it a good place for conversation. Great for talking about serious issues even though you may not usually talk about such things. But it's certainly a place to socialize. It's quiet like a library but not stuffy. It's interesting because people don't go to “donut shops” or “soda shops” to talk about things like they do at coffee shops.

Joanna:
I don't drink coffee but I see it as mostly a social place. It used to be a date place for me and it was a major student hangout. But I don't like the pressure to buy something. I'm either forced to buy iced tea or chai. I think they should have more non coffee drinks.

Margaret:
They are for lonely people who just want to read their US Weekly magazine,

Jenni:
I think of it as a place for people to hang out and talk.


Ok, so it looks as if coffee houses are certainly a place to hangout. I can say that with my short time at a real coffee house (I don't think Starbucks counts and I'll tell you why in a minute) that coffee houses to me are a place for two or more people who are totally different in age and social status can share a beverage and just talk. I've talked to more people at DoubleShot than I have at any other coffee shop.

Ok, why I don't think Starbucks is a real coffee house. First let me say that I am not a part of the “I Hate Starbucks” movement. I have friends that hate Starbucks and I have friends that love Starbucks. I'm fairly indifferent but mostly because I haven't done my homework yet to have a truly valid opinion.

A reason I don't like Starbucks is that they won't acknowledge that they are fast food. They are nothing more than the McDonalds of the coffee world.

A reason I like Starbucks is that if you are somewhere totally unfamiliar then you can always count on Starbucks being the same, because they are on every corner. But that's also why I don't like Starbucks...

I also think that the local coffee shop is like your local bike shop. I think you should support both. But only if you like their products and services obviously. Gosh, I'm certainly not the kind of person who goes to the local farmers market and only buys locally grown produce but I really enjoy my bike shop, T-Town Bicycles and I want to keep them in business. They have been good to me, they always give me a discount, and I trust them working on my bike.

Same thing with the coffee shop. Brian and Isaiah at DoubleShot have taught me a lot about coffee and I appreciate their time and the pride they put in their work. So naturally I would rather buy and support what they do.

Starbucks employee vs. Real Barista

I see the Starbucks employee as someone who just knows how to pull some levers and squirt the right amount of syrup. But I want someone who knows about coffee and who pulls real shots of espresso. The other day, I was just watching Isaiah. He poured some espresso grounds, which was ground seconds before, into the portafilter and started to tamp it. Is that the correct term? I know it's called a tamper... Anyway, while he was “tamping” it, he noticed it was uneven. Instead of just pulling a shot like that, he duped the grounds out and tried again. I love that!

Ok, that's enough coffee thoughts for now. Peace out!

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

Another post about coffee.... and your read a boook about coffee... i dont know it looks like you have been in tulsa to long. Tulsa needs more to do.