Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Archive III - You Wan't An Iced What? (A true saga...)

Guys - so tired can't think enough to be creative and I know you don't want to hear about me deworming my goats...so it's another archive.

Promise to add something fresh in the next day or 2.

What I miss most down here is the coffee. Ok – I miss my family and friends more – but coffee runs a close second.

I have over the last year, become a total Starbucks junkie. There was a time when I could take it or leave it, but Starbucks has become so ingrained in the fabric of my life, so much a ritual for me – that to leave it behind was devastating.

My drink of choice in the summertime is iced decaf coffee. I don’t like to pour hot coffee over ice because of the water-down factor, so I am always thrilled to find a coffee place that actually has cold, brewed decaf on hand. Both Starbucks in Hoboken kept it in stock, as do most of the branches in NYC. Still – occasionally you run into a smaller branch and they don’t have cold decaf so they foist an Iced Americano (decaf of course) on you, which is espresso over ice cut with cold water. The thought is that because the espresso is so strong, the water and the ice mix with it to give you regular tasting coffee. That’s not exactly true, but I can tolerate an Americano every once and a while.

I spent my first week down here without any coffee. But a trip to a large shopping complex in nearby Mooresville led me to a Caribou Coffee where the nice barista told me they didn’t have iced decaf and instead recommended a Sugar Free Vanilla Iced Decaf Americano. I ordered it, added a healthy dose of Half & Half and Oh My God – it was the best coffee ever. Or at least – it tasted that good seeing as I had been deprived for a week.

The following day I found myself in Charlotte. Charlotte is peppered with Starbucks outlets but sadly the one I went into did not have iced decaf coffee. So I found myself with an Americano – which frankly, without the sugar free vanilla and Half & Half – was significantly less satisfying then my Caribou experience.

Still, coffee was now back in my veins and I knew I would need more. Seeing as I don’t feel like driving 25 – 35 miles every time I wanted a good cup of coffee, I decided to check out the coffee scene in Lincolnton.

Lincolnton has 3 coffee places that I know of: Morgan’s, Fausto’s and Witch’s Brew.

When Marty lived here over the summer, he would go to the Witch’s Brew quite a bit. He’s not much of a coffee drinker but if you add some Irish Cream syrup and a lot of milk he seems to like it (so would a 6-year old – it’s like drinking a milkshake). The Witch’s Brew is charming – with a nice sized space to hang out, work, or play board games (which are stacked neatly in the front). Some times they have live music and the overall vibe is hippie chick/goth coffee house. How they survive in a town like Lincolnton is beyond me – especially since I have been told that the owners are Wiccans (and I thought being Jewish down here would be an issue). I went there once when we were down here visiting. I of course ordered an iced decaf coffee, which they didn’t have so I had to settle for hot coffee over ice. To make matters worse – they put my iced beverage in a Styrofoam cup. Now – not to be difficult, but everyone knows that cold coffee beverages go in the clear, plastic cups (By the way - that’s why iced coffee is twice as expensive as regular coffee. It’s all about the cup.) I can’t explain my fanaticism on this point but I firmly believe that cold coffee goes in a clear plastic cup. Plain and simple. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to running back to the Witch’s Brew.

Sandwiched in a shopping center between a Lowe’s and a Staples, Morgan’s Calf-A is actually an ice cream parlor cum coffee shop. They don’t open until late morning, which means this is not a stop for an early morning java fix. One could deduce from this tidbit that they take their ice cream more seriously than their coffee – which it turns out they do.

I have been to Morgan’s once before – I ordered a regular decaf coffee. It was Ok. Not great. Southerner’s don’t seem to like strong coffee and being used to the power of Starbucks, the Morgan’s decaf seemed like Screech from Saved By the Bell – scrawny and pathetic.

Still, last Sunday I found myself at Lowe’s and desperately craving a coffee. So I went to Morgan’s (which by the way – is the only one of the three shops open on a Sunday. Gotta love life in the bible belt.)

A sweet young girl behind the counter asks me what I’d like.

“An iced decaf coffee please.” I know they aren’t going to have it, but I figure it never hurts to ask because one day I will get lucky.

Still, I am surprised when she asks: “What flavor?” Flavor? You mean I have a choice? Ok – so there’s a little red warning light going off in my head – there’s no way they have a choice of cold, brewed, flavored decaf coffees but wait – maybe they do. Maybe it’s like Dunkin Donuts? No. It can’t be. Maybe she means the syrups.

“What are my choices?”

“We have decaf vanilla and decaf mocha.”

Ok – so it’s definitely not about the syrups because those aren’t decaf. I hesitantly select the decaf vanilla.

“Would you like whipped cream on that?” Here’s where little red warning light turns into full-blown alarm system. I am picturing an iced coffee (in a nice big, clear, plastic cup) and then I am picturing a big blob of whipped cream floating on top. The image doesn’t gel in my mind – it’s as if she’s asked me if I’d like ketchup on my Rocky Road.

I try not to be too New York (despite the Louis Vuitton purse dangling from my arm and my metallic green Siggy Mo heels) when I say: “I’m sorry? What do you think I ordered?”

“An iced coffee.”

“Yes. An iced coffee.” I pause, waiting for a flicker of recognition. There’s none so I continue. “So why did you offer me whipped cream?”

She goes to get a menu and brings it back to me. All I see under iced coffee are about 40 flavor choices (including decaf vanilla and decaf mocha). I see no beverage description.

“Iced coffee,” she says, trying to be helpful. Yeah. And Who’s on First.

“I just want an iced coffee. You know – cold coffee over ice.” The blank look has now turned to confusion. “You know how iced tea is hot tea, that’s then cooled and poured over ice?” I figure a tea reference will go far here. Not quite.

At this point, the other woman behind the counter – who I presume to be more senior – comes over to assist.

“Do you mean like a latte?” She says latte “laaaahhhhhhhhhhtaaaayyy.”

Now it’s my turn to look confused. Who said anything about a latte? That’s like ordering macaroni and cheese and having the waitress say: You mean the spaghetti and meatballs? They are both pasta but that’s it.

“No. I mean iced coffee.” My frustration level is rising but you can’t be rude down here so I try to keep it all in.

“Do you mean espresso or brewed coffee?” I fear this is a trick question that will land me with an Americano but then it occurs to me they probably don’t know what an Americano is seeing as they don’t know what iced coffee is.

“Um….brewed coffee. All I want is cold brewed decaf poured over ice. Just plain. What exactly do you mean when you say iced coffee?”

It turns out that “iced coffee” at Morgan’s is flavored coffee powder blended with milk. Sort of like a frappucinno. Or a shake. How silly of me. Iced coffee equals frozen blended flavored coffee beverage.

Although it’s taken several minutes to bridge the communication gap, they finally process my drink order. There’s another small moment of confusion when the girl tries to figure out what cup to give me (thankfully plastic) and how much to charge. Then she hands me the cup.

Apparently, I have to add my own coffee so I go to the pot of decaf and press down. Wouldn’t you know I’ve gotten the bottom of the pot.

So now I have the dregs of hot wimpy coffee poured over ice. I drink it only because it feels like I’ve been through Hell to get it. My only solace is the plastic cup.

This was obviously written a while back and I have since solved the iced coffee dilemma. Between the iced coffee maker I purchased and the fact that I work right near both a Starbucks (have to settle for an Americano and the parking lot’s a zoo) and a Caribou (where they actually have iced cold pressed decaf), my java joneses are always addressed.


And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Fairy God Sister said...

What I love about this blog, and about you, is that we are the same person, although you are infinitely more patient than I. You start my morning with a laugh every day, which I appreciate greatly. But now, I must sign off, because I have to go downstairs to the Starbucks which is in my building and order a Grande Iced Cappuccino in a Venti Cup, so there is room for the milk!!!!!!! Do they have Splenda in N.C.?