Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Validate Hipness with Caffeine

Coffee in Portland is central to the town’s hipness. Without coffee, Portland would be nothing but a wannabe trendsetting port town. This town thrives on coffee. And, not just any coffee.

We have become accustomed to a certain standard. Out lattes are always complete with a design, usually a leave or heart. Sometimes if the barista is really good, they even ask you out in the foam of the latte. (Okay, I’ve never heard of that in real life, but wouldn’t that be cool? Imagine: “…Oh, well, we met when I looked down at my latte and I tell ya, I could have sworn it said ‘let me buy you dinner’ and then it turns out it really did *laughs nervously*…and well, the rest is history…sigh…”)

Yes, we have world-class coffee. But along with that we have a fair share of very spoiled coffee snobs. They get to pick from an array of sweeteners to sweeten their brew: raw sugar, brown sugar, splenda, agave, honey, stevia, sweet’n’low and equal. That’s just the sugar.

Let us now turn out attention to milk. We have a buffet to choose from: whole milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, fat free and now…hemp milk! (Vanilla or plain hemp milk?)

Even “regular” coffee isn’t just “regular” coffee anymore. When you order “coffee,” you’re likely to get a blank look from the barista and then a look of “aha,” and she will say, “OooOooh, you mean, like, “drip” coffee.” And, after that has been established, there’s more. What size? Room for cream? “Would you like a medium organic roast with a cinnamony aftertaste, French roast with a hint of chocolate from the Ivory Coast or a light Kenyan blend with earthy undertones?”

No wonder we’ve turned into a buncha spoiled coffee snobs. It has become totally acceptable and normal. Go into any coffee shop and say “a double, tall, soy, split-shot extra dry cappuccino with one pump of vanilla” and you’re likely to get just that.

But, in a minute way, our coffee preference is a way of claiming our own individuality. I’m not just that one girl in the green coat—I’m that one girl, in the green coat that orders a small soy latte. Please.

No comments: