tall nonfat one pump caramel machiatto -June 27


tall nonfat one pump caramel machiatto
That is my typical starbucks order: I think there is some kind of contest at Starbucks to see who has the longest order. Sometimes I go a little plainer w/ a nonfat raspberry latte or if I need something cold or it is a bad stomach day any of the iced teas ( black is my favorite, but the green and passionfruit are also super great) sweetened. I never brew my own. I never get it right, but at work I add half a splenda and plenty of creamer – preferably flavored to whatever is in the pot. My dad always took his with exactly 2 sugar cubes.
My love for coffee started when I was probably about 10 and it was biblical. Our Sunday school class always let out before my parents. All the kids would impatiently wait outside and rush in after the last prayer. We all made a beeline for the back right corner of the room……..just hoping that someone had brought donuts. For some reason, I also started pouring myslef a cup of coffee while the grown ups chatted and chose a place to eat. Black. I guess I thought that meant I was tough. It was bitter, strong and tasted worse than my dad's whiskey, but I drank it down in big hot gulps. There was no such thing as Starbucks back then so this habit was reserved for Sunday mornings only.
Then in the high school they opened up a coffee shop. Fancy coffee was still a pretty weird thing, but us highschool kids flocked to Sweet Eugene's. We thought we were very cool hanging out there. It was filled with couches and books and games. There was a giant porch and occasionally some bad acoustic music in the corner. I ordered Snickers lattes and tried to have intense conversations although I was still more worried about my outfit than any of the deep things we pretended to care about. My dad tried to feed this habit and broke out the expresso machine (he used to live in Italy). I just loved those cute little cups, but preferred something sweet and foamy. One night I drank an entire pot of expresso studying for a Calculus test. My stomach burned the next morning. That was only the beginning.
Due to an ulcer and some bad habits my stomach couldn't handle much caffeine during my prime coffee drinking years. Lubbock never had a Starbucks while I lived there ….and with Daybreak and J&B we never missed it. I grew to like hot tea. The walls were covered with these fun glass jars of tea to chose from and I don't mean stupid boxes with lame quotes on them but jars of dried leaves and fruits. You brought the jar to the counter, and they would scoop out some leaves and but in this cute little homemade teabag to steep. I took mine with half and half and some sweet and low. Then I grew up, started taking better care of my stomach, always ordering it nonfat and now coffee is back on the menu and a social activity at least a few times a week.
Tonight me and my friend Wendy went to a tasting at Starbucks. We went because we wanted free drinks and thought we would learn how to make machiattos and frapiccinos and raspberry lattes at home rather than dishing out the 4$ a cup. We showed up late and soaking wet and realized we were way out of our league. It was more like a seminar. There were only a few people in the group, all older or Starbucks employees and they definantly knew the difference between a Sumatra and an Italian Roast. None of them probably order those syrupy drinks. She had brewed 3 different coffees and taught us the four things to look for in a coffee: 1)boldness - the heaviness on your tounge 2)acidity – the tang or zip 3)aroma and 4)flavor –simple or complex. She also went over the characteristics of each region. For example Asian coffees seem to be earthy and African coffees tend to have more of a citrisy taste. Some coffees have hints of berry, chocolate or even flowers. All I can ever remember tasting is whatever flavor I had them pump into my coffee. So we tried each one and tried to match it to it's region ( I was the only one who got it right by the way……but I am not competitive or anything!). It was really interesting to look into these three little black cups that looked exactly the same and smell and taste really different flavors. She also brought out some pastries to pair them with. One tasted amazing with an expresso brownie, while another flavor made it taste bitter. The Kenyan coffee tasted awesome with a lemon bar, but paired with the Italian coffee it tasted like I had just brushed my teeth and drank orange juice. It started sounding like a wine tasting…..but I was amazed at all these flavors I had been missing or drowing out with whipped cream. It isn't just the coffee. I do this all the time. I miss moments because I rush them. I miss the complexity in people because I don't take the time to draw it out. I miss out on some of my husband's best traits by not pairing it with the right words or moments or activities. And my most important lesson, some things don't always need flavored syrups or sprinkles to be good. Somethings are even better just as they are.
Now, I don't promise to give up my machiattos...but somedays i will have a much simpler order of just a flavorful black coffee....and maybe even save a few bucks.

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