My daughter is coming to visit from Texas this week. We are happy with our Tasters Choice instant, but I know she likes fresh brewed coffee in the morning, so I asked her what kind to buy for her visit. She wrote me back to get ground Starbucks Breakfast Blend. There’s a Starbucks just a few blocks from us (isn’t there one a few blocks from everyone in this country?), so I went over there today to buy it. Four baristas and twenty minutes later I got the coffee. I think there’s more process to building a Tesla car than buying coffee at Starbucks, but I’m not sure. It’s a close contest.
First off, they didn’t have Breakfast Blend at that store any more. So that required two baristas to confer and argue about what blend was the closest thing to it. They finally decided on Pike. Then they asked what roast – dark, medium, or light. I had no idea. That required the first two to consult a third barista, and once again the three of them couldn’t agree, at least not at first. Eventually I settled on medium out of a general feeling of cowardice. It was the safe bet. If I got it wrong, it wouldn’t be far from the right one. Next they asked if it had to be ground. When I said yes, they wanted to know what grind. Apparently there are numbers involved. Lots of numbers. Three? Five? Pi? How should I know? I just want some coffee for my daughter. Did the pioneers have to go through this at the general store two hundred years ago?
Thus enters barista number four, apparently the one with an advanced degree in nuclear physics and coffee brewing. She seemed to be a manager of some sort and wanted to educate me on the chemical properties of the various blends and brewing techniques. I was afraid for a while that she was going to recite the DNA sequence of whatever it was I’d bought. She had to settle for asking me about the coffeemaker I was using. Of course I had no data on that either since Taster’s Choice uses only a spoon and a microwave, unless you count the cup and faucet. She had to cogitate a long time before she was able to figure out how to dumb it down so that an ignoramus like me could answer her questions. “Was it an espresso machine?” “No. just a simple drip coffeemaker.” “Did it have a funnel type bottom or a flat bottom?” “Flat.” “Do you use a metal filter or a paper filter?” “Paper.” “You should use a metal filter. The paper filter removes some of the flavor by absorbing the [insert name of chemical here}…” “It’s the only thing we have. It uses paper.” Obvious disappointment on Prof. Barista’s face. “All right. well, I think we’ll use seven. It’s a finer grind that will work with paper.” With that I was actually able to pay and leave the shop although I could have left without the paying part. It had taken so long nobody remembered that I hadn’t yet paid. I paid anyway. It was worth the twelve bucks just for the entertainment.
The adventure didn’t end there, though. The parking lot presented its own challenge.The Starbucks shares a very small, closed lot with a Wells Fargo. Why anybody still banks with Wells Fargo after all the recent revelations about their banking practices is beyond me, but the lot is always very crowded. I reached my car, put on my sunglasses and put the car in reverse just about the same moment the driver of the car to my right did the same. He graciously nodded to me to go ahead. I started to back up but at the same moment a honkin’ huge white pickup, or possibly a 3000-stateroom Norwegian Lines cruise ship, parked directly behind me started to back up. For reasons best known to himself, the driver decided to crank the wheel so he was facing the closed end of the lot, rather than the driveway. He realized his error and executed the world’s slowest five-point turn in order to get turned around so he could drive out the driveway. When he finally cleared the space behind me I once again started to back out only to have a car from the street zoom directly behind me in order to get that spot vacated by the cruise ship, er, pickup. He was followed by yet another car from the street who entered hoping to find a vacant spot only to discover there weren’t any. He was thus blocking the two of us who were trying to exit. Eventually that driver, although not caring a hoot about us, realized that if he just let us leave he would have a spot to park. He wiggled his car over far enough that I could back out. Fortunately my Leaf has a tight turn radius.
The coffee is now safely home. My daughter darn well better like it.