My Cappuccino Problem – an entirely true story

Generally speaking, I like my coffee like I like my women: strong, full, rich, and apocalyptically dark. Wait. What? That can’t possibly be true.

Let’s try again: generally, wherever I go, a cup of black coffee is more than sufficient. In fact, it’s generally what I insist on; while I like a nice cup of tea, they’re hard to come by commercially — there’s no way I’m paying more than about a quarter for some pitiful teabag and some almost-hot water, and nobody seems interested in selling me that product for less than six times that. While I have some respect for the school that puts cream or milk in their coffee, I fell out of the habit long ago. (My Southern ancestors would call it “whitener” and it would come in powder form; I myself try to abstain from any product whose first bloody ingredient is “Corn Syrup Solids”.) Sugar, on the other hand, is something I find weird and a little silly; my private suspicion is that people who take their coffee with sugar don’t actually like coffee, but instead are merely feeding their caffeine addictions in the most painless way they can find. (Said ancestors would naturally put a few spoonfuls of sugar in with their light brown corn-syrup slurry.)

Unless there’s cappuccino on the menu. I love cappuccino.

Not café lattes. Not any of that milk-and-espresso crap that people buy by the liter at Starbucks (I’m not saying that Starbucks is incapable of making a decent beverage, just that most of the menu doesn’t qualify). Nothing with ice cubes.

In theory I know how they’re made: a little porcelain mug, a shot of espresso, some foamed milk (but no liquid!), no sweat. But in theory I know how to drive a bus, too; some things should just be left to professionals. I don’t own an espresso machine and probably never will.

Now, I’m not even faintly Italian; I can’t even pull off the Nintendo it’s-a-mee. I imagine that in Italy the consumption of coffee is a social action, done over brioces at the little cafe down the street when you’re already half an hour late for work, because isn’t that what it means to enjoy life? And certainly I’d like that to be true in my own life.

The reality is rather different though. The need usually strikes me in the middle of the afternoon, at that rare hour when my coworkers are all actually working. While working invariably entails drinking coffee, making an expedition to get cappuccino is a hard sell when the workplace provides unlimited free coffee.

So I’ll grab my computer and perhaps some papers and strike out towards my cafe of choice (which is currently C3 at Central Square, by the way – it’s a long walk but it’s sooo much better than Cosí), affix my thousand-yard stare when I pass the bums on Mass Ave and leave it on when I enter the cafe: this may be a place where people go to socialize with their friends, and I may have come here alone, but that doesn’t matter — I am a busy man who wants coffee, at least as far as you know. I know that unless you’re the barista I am invisible to you, but you’re invisible to me too.

I’ll place my order, be silently thankful the barista doesn’t recognize me, stake out a table by the window or wherever’s the farthest from everyone else. I’ll flip through my paper if I brought one, scribbling notes in the margins even though I don’t really understand what’s going on. Perhaps I’ll check my email. When my beverage is ready I’ll retrieve it and ask for a spoon, then grab a single packet of unbleached sugar.

I’ll sprinkle some sugar on the top layer of foam and eat that with the spoon. I saw some Europeans doing that once, but I do it because I like it; I don’t need to be European and even if I did nobody will be watching. The rest of the cappuccino I’ll drink the normal way, deliberately. Perhaps I’ll gaze out the window at traffic, perhaps I’ll study my computer or my paper; I won’t even steal a glance at the café or the people in it, though.

I might have the recurring thought that psychological addictions are more pleasant that physiological ones. I won’t eavesdrop on the couples or the businessmen a few tables away. When my mug is empty, I won’t linger; I’ll pack my stuff, bus my table, and go.

And I’ll walk back to my office in the cold, happy as a clam because I had a cappuccino and it was good.

That’s what this story is about, after all.


One Response

  1. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one?

    Thanks a lot!

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