There’s very little in life that I love doing more than drinking shots. Espresso shots, that is. My coworkers are almost used to my espresso habits; they only blink a few times when I order my number of shots. Night crew likes to give me a hard time about my espresso habits, but at least I’ve trained the morning crew to understand that without shots I am worthless. When I was working mornings on a more regular basis, the shift would start pulling a quad shot the moment I walked in the door. Even last week- my first morning shift in months- he barely blinked when in the middle of blackout I turned and asked him for a couple of shots whenever he had a second. Moments later, there was a short cup full of espresso sitting by my register. Regulation? No. Did I stop dropping every blessed thing I touched? Oh yes. There is method in my espresso madness.
I’m so used to ordering in a place that understands my need to consume a week’s worth of caffeine in a few sips that I find ordering in other restaurants highly amusing. Like a few months ago. I don’t remember where I was- Panera, Books-a-Million, or some place like that. I had already had a lot of milky drinks earlier that day on shift, so I just ordered a double espresso. The very nice lady behind the counter patronisingly explained to me that “espresso” was a tiny amount of very intense coffee, not a “proper drink.” The look of shock on her face when I simply grinned and said “Yep- that’s what I’m looking for” was priceless. Well, not really. It cost me $1.79, but man was it worth it!
A few weeks ago I went out to see a play with my mum and one of her friends (there’s a write-up coming on that play, just so you know. It was wonderful!). I got a triple tall caramel macchiato before the performance, but by dinner afterwards the caffeine buzz had more than worn off and I was having a hard time not dropping into a carb-induced slumber. (There are way too many places to get great bread around here- that’s all I’m saying.) So, while we poured over the dessert menu, I asked our waiter for a solo espresso to get me through the remainder of the meal. Surprisingly, he didn’t register the shock I’m used to seeing. Maybe he was just well-trained, maybe he saw how exhausted I was, or maybe he’s a closet espresso-addict too. Whatever the case, he brought me my espresso with no to-do. It was my mum’s friend that was thrown for a loop by the cute little chunky demitasse in which our waiter delivered my shot to me. It was a great opportunity to talk about espresso, what it is, what makes it different from coffee, and why you *really* don’t want to order a regularly-sized coffee cup full of espresso shots.
The most recent incident, and the one that made me sit back and muse over my espresso encounters happened last Friday night. We were having an English Club meeting at a cute little cafe, and I was tired. Exhausted. Worn out. Brain dead. I was the designated driver; I needed caffeine. This particular place used to have a honey latte that was amazing, but I soon discovered that it was no longer on the menu. Not feeling up to anything else, I approached the register to order. Nice young guy- a little baffled by our group, but then again we are an unusual assortment of characters. I asked him if they could do a triple espresso, even though they only listed solo and doubles. He looked at me with a slightly startled expression, but said that he could definitely do it. I said, “Okay, good, let’s make it a quad then.” He stopped ringing. He looked at me. The next words out of his mouth were “I used to work in a coffee bar, and we were all like that. Couldn’t get enough coffee.” YES! A kindred spirit! I responded with “Yeah, I work at Starbucks.” He nodded, rang up the drink, and that was that. No weird looks, no patronising, no incredulity, just pure understanding. And four shots of espresso.