Before I go any further, let me tell you a very important fact about Apollo, my significant other. Apollo loves coffee. He loves the stuff. He lives on it. Happiness to him is a coffee shop with porcelain cups.
When we first started going out, he would greet me with a let’s go for cawfee with the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas. At first, I thought that my shaking limbs was a sign of nervous love, but then I soon realized, it was the caffeine. Now, when we go to coffee shops, most of the time, I order sparkling water.
Apollo does go to Starbucks (yes, I am sooo Galactica punning), and we even went to the wedding of one of the Baristas (it was a male barista, would that be baristus?). Since the male barista groom also worked at Wal Mart, there was a crowd of Wal Mart employees there. Whole other world, I tell ya. I felt very culturally elite.
Anyway, getting back to Apollo, I can say with great certainty that Apollo knows all the good coffee shops around my house. Sometimes, he even shows up at my door with a let’s go for cawfee and the name of the place he wants to go to. It might be the Argentinean bakery (awesome con leche) or the Conservatory (great independent shop which roasts its own beans) or the bakery down the street. If we have to go a Starbucks, Apollo orders an Americano with a double shot of espresso and room for milk. He doesn’t like the Starbucks regular coffee.
Recently one of my neighborhood coffee shops became a wine bar. A lot of wine bars are opening up around me lately. I find it kind of pretentious. Sometimes a girl just needs a couple of pints and a decent bar where she can sort out all her regrets and drown in her own misery, and she just can’t do that at a wine bar.
One night, Apollo and I checked out the ex-coffee shop/now wine bar. It was a hip/loungey kind of place with all the tables at knee level and overhead lighting made out of wine bottles (I wonder where they got the idea). There was hip/loungey food on small plates and big plates, and up on the stage, an aging blonde was throwing everything she had into Nancy Sinatra songs as she shouted into the microphone. The food was decent although don’t order the steak because it arrives twenty minutes after everything else.
Still we enjoyed ourselves, and one Sunday afternoon decided to stop in for a quick bite. Apollo had to drive, so he decided not to drink. I ordered a Belgian beer because I just didn’t want to deal with the extensive wine list---their wine list was longer than an epic poem. Apollo ordered an Americano.
Ohhhh, that was a mistake.
When Apollo’s Americano arrived, it was in a clear glass and had a strange color to it. He stirred it and sipped it and gasped in agony.
Here Jen, try this. He said to me.
I was a little dubious, but since Apollo was still alive, I figured it was safe. I tasted the Americano. It was nasty and gritty yet very watered down at the same time. What the heck?
Send it back! It tastes like cow dung! I declared.
I think I should mention that I have just read Anthony Bourdain’s book, Kitchen Confidential, and have gotten into the habit of commenting on my foodie experiences with colorful phrases.
Apollo is the more diplomatic one in our coupledom. When the waiter came back, Apollo explained the Americano problem. At that moment, I realized that our waiter was not just any waiter. Our waiter was a supreme coffee snob.
He went into a monologue about how he doesn’t make Americanos the Starbucks way and on and on and on and never once did he apologize for his crappy (literally, crappy) coffee beverage.
Apollo wants me to put in a description of the waiter, so here it is. He was pale---like he doesn’t go out in the sun, and seemed like someone who had gotten beaten up a lot in school. It’s great that people have passions, really it is, but for the love of beans, how hard is it to pour hot water onto a shot of espresso?
The waiter brought a new Americano out, but it tasted a lot like the old one only more watery. By that point, we had given up. Fine! Whatever! You win, coffee snob!
However, the waiter’s blabbering got me thinking, what is an Americano exactly? Is it more than shot of espresso mellowed out with water? So I googled and came upon this excellent video where Ashley shows us how to make an Americano---just how Apollo likes it.
Also while googling, I found The Campari Americano cocktail where you add sweet vermouth to a Campari and soda to mellow out the Campari. Now that’s my kind of Americano.