steaming cup of heaven pic by liz clayton
I have kind of a reputation for being a coffee junkie. I don’t know why. I grew up in the pre-latte era when coffee was generally kind of gross and I only used it when I truly needed it (was up all night reading chaucer in middle english out loud much to my housemates’ horror). I remember in the 1990s when I stopped at the newsbar every day for an iced cappuccino but they could never do it right and I always ended up holding a big glass of iced heavy cream with nowhere near enough coffee in it! (I actually dropped three quarters of a stone when I ceased going there, and my stress levels dropped too, because I saved $780 a year on badly prepared, undercaffeinated goo.) then, in the time out new york era, I used to show up for work without having consumed my morning fix, and I would sit at my desk with a giant tumbler filled with home-brewed espresso, ice, rice milk and soya milk. “what’s in the big cup?” people in the tiniest and slowest elevator in manhattan were aching to know. yes, I think it’s my slow-moving morning persona that makes my friends believe I practically need a giant syringe full of coffee just seconds after rolling out of bed. and then there I was in london in 2006, having been made redundant from a silly job and stuck in my bed with a bad cold for days, I decided to see if I could go without the black elixir. and guess what? I could. I replaced my morning ritual with a queen-cup full of something called Wake Cup (or Wake Up, depending on the brand), which is some kind of guarana-spiced barley coffee replacement thing, with a few mugfuls of white and green tea to make up for the lack of caf, and I was just fine! fine. until my dad died in 2007, forcing me to jet back and forth over the atlantic while coping with the emotional exhaustion of grief and funerals and such, and I found myself unable to prop my eyelids open while doing my silly freelance editing gigs. so my love of coffee has been renewed now, thanks in part to…
1. before flat white, I’m pretty sure there was no such thing as a decent mug of java to be had in my beloved city of london. thanks to some coffee “artisans” from new zealand and australia, now there is coffee worth heading to even soho for. yum. that’s all I have to say.
2. portland is a city that loves me back just by having soymilk at the airport, but the locals took me to stumptown, a fine idea. this is a town that cares about where its consumables come from.
3. I had heard a piece on npr about some silverlake coffee stand that costs a mint, but when I got to intelligentsia, I didn’t think it was so costly. but if you stay here day and night using the free wifi, I’m sure it adds up. delish.
4. it wasn’t until cf contributor and fellow zinester-photographer liz clayton came to visit me in durham that I even knew about counter culture, but I’m glad I do now. the packaging alone would be worth the cost of these but the beans are divine.
5. and really, I don’t pretend to be some kind of knowledgeable coffee snob like our lady ms. clayton — who has been known to go around tricking even the naturally caffeinated people into believing they cannot live without fresh beans — I’m not. but I would definitely consult her coffee blog for any future outings. there are options, people! use them. no one can justify going to a starbucks anymore!