Coffee Rhetoric: cafe awareness
Showing posts with label cafe awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cafe awareness. Show all posts

July 26, 2012

These and Those: Coffee Jerks

Anyone who knows me knows that I am serious about my coffee consumption. I'm pretty straightforward and have zero use for tepid, weak "struggle coffee" or designer blends. When I go to a coffee house or chain, I don't my order doesn't involve a lengthy list of incidentals. In fact, standing behind someone who orders a: small but tall mochaccinoshino with skim milk, lightly steamed, with a splish-splash of syrup, whipped cream, with a cherry on top and not too hot-- or whatever it is they're ordering-- has to be one of the most daunting experiences to have to endure, when all I want is an over-sized dark roast, Caffè macchiato, or Coffee of The Day.   

When I frolicked in Sicily, one of my most memorable experiences was ordering coffee there. The Italians are no frills, and have little patience for foolery, stunts, and shows when it comes to food and especially when it comes to their coffee. You go to Italy getting the coffee game twisted, and they’ll shade you out of the café, they take coffee-culture that seriously.  You order it how they do, in the variations they offer, and when they do. There is no such thing as a “frappucino”… you order un caffè (corretto if you’re nasty) enjoy it, and then go on about your business.  

People who wave a Dunkin Donuts, coffee flavored Coolatta at me, thinking they’re showing off their coffee-drinking prowess, can step… I’m not impressed. All of this is to say; I don’t play when it comes to coffee drinking. Going a full day without having its hot, robust deliciousness in my system, throws me off and causes me to feel all discombobulated and become somewhat nasty.  I go back and forth with folks on Facebook about my love of coffee-culture and I get ribbed a little bit for it; but the men in the following video display how they are not to be toyed with when it comes to their coffee, and flex their alpha-male privilege to show their disdain for "struggle-coffee". 
In this short compilation of chauvinistic, but still amusing, 1950’s and 60’s era coffee commercial clips taken from the Prelinger archives and edited down to the jerk-minimum, husbands condescend to and disparage their clueless wives for their poor coffee-making skills…  

February 14, 2011

Black History Essentials: Reading Is Fundamental

This month is as great a time as any to catch up on noteworthy books to read. Whether they be staples from authors of yore or present day provocateurs with something powerful to share... Here're a few books that shook me to my core after I read them. 
Wench by  Dolen Perkins-Valdez made me privy to a part of Black... American history that I was completely unaware of... This article over at Racialicious sums it up really well..
I was also rather struck by the late Chester Himes' searing and controversial (especially for its time) "race novel", The End of A Primitive, which charts the slow disintegration of a heated and alcohol fueled interracial relationship between a, as Himes describes, "sexually frustrated American woman and racially frustrated Black American male" where he allows them to "soak in American bourbon." The result is ... intense to say the least. Himes' own story is interesting in and of itself. 
Another novel of note is Walter Mosley's The Man In My Basement. I believe I read this in two nights... An intense  and philosophical study about race, identity, and impressions. Also seemed to tackle moral dilemmas about evil, redemption, power, and punishment... 
Check them out! 


September 14, 2010


The core group of people who've followed this blog from the beginning and have read about me crying, laughing, brooding, grieving, fumbling towards ecstasy, waxing nostalgic, in addition to all of my dating disasters know that amidst all of this foolery lies a starving literary artist and social media personality. I put a lot of hard work into Coffee Rhetoric and would like to experience the recognition that comes with all of the effort... which includes me not having to work a string of thankless jobs, under the supervision of some miserable hag, and finding contentment freelancing and doing things for myself.  I also don't want to be the sole nutcase out on the ledge all by myself, and so would like to write about other interesting people, places and things, especially those who are/which are local. 
Bocca Rossa - 942 Main ST, Htfd, CT
This phase finds me at my most ambitious. The hunger has involved me stepping the ante up on networking and schmoozing... something I've always had an aversion to.  I've always likened schmoozing to flirting... I mean, it is a derivative, non? In any event, I'm reserved when it comes to both and am never one to approach a person first. Usually animated when prompted. I always felt that schmoozing involved acting in a disingenuous way, to get something from someone... and in essence it is. So imagine my surprise upon realizing I can be myself and still network with interesting people who're receptive to my creative endeavors.
I've been going out more and trying to develop contacts to help me along on my journey. I've basically become like the harried accordion player in The Wind Journeys
No people are better to network with than bartenders, because they hear everything and are essentially masters at being in the know. The past year and this current, I've met some truly outstanding and personable bartenders who've hipped me to some really interesting people, places, and things. The two cute bartendresses, Rachel and Sarah, at downtown lounge, Bocca Rossa, have truly been amazing. From buying me a glass of fruit infused grappa to making stellar recommendations... they're awesome. Rachel was instrumental in introducing me to a notable or two, supplying them with a brief synopsis about my creative endeavors as well as giving me insight on some interesting events I'm going to try to insinuate myself in at. 
cognac & amaretto 
I definitely see myself becoming a semi-regular there. On top of having a great wine and spirit list, good locally made sausage, a great chef, and playing outstanding music that had me feeling nostalgic - (Neo-Soul, down-tempo, acid house, acid jazz) - and made my delicates quake excitedly - (because the stuff is right up my alley and isn't played anyplace else I can think of in the area) - they offer up a wicked Tomaresca and Malbec.
blurry pic of sauteed clams in a spicy broth
Also, where else where I happen upon a patron who'll lecture me on the importance of having men eat out my hand and knowing my worth (Kanye shrug) or be able to knock over and break a glass of wine on the bar, after gesticulating wildly upon hearing a friend's disturbing stories about his dysfunctional relationship, without getting major shade thrown in my direction?
Bocca Rossa, I see you now... and I'll be back... til we meet again.
** Read my Yelp review 

November 08, 2008

The Story of (What I Did for) O

Tuesday, November 4th was undoubtedly, one of the most important days in the history of important days. Its aftermath would make or break the United States as we know it, and considering what we know, the vast majority of this country's citizens were looking to make history and break-up with the current White House administration. Election day. Monumental, nail-biting, extraordinary because of the response this year's voting process evoked. I got up, determined to project my voice with some measure of success this time around. Election day was particularly mild and sunny, perfect for waiting outside for hours. This is how I spent November 4th.
7:55AM - I arrived at my old polling station hoping to put one over because A) voting downtown was sooo convenient since I work down there plus there was NO line to speak of! and B) my old downtown address was listed on my ID, and I was worried voting at my new district without current address info would present a problem. Needless to say, my efforts were to no avail because I wasn't on the registration list and District 19 was not having it, so they politely told me where my new polling district was located when I told them I'd moved. "Make sure you go vote! You HAVE to do it!" one of the volunteers yelled after me. A little dejected, I decided I'd use my lunch hour to do just that.
12:30PM- I arrive at my new voting district and groaned when I saw the long line. I saw a small group heading in the same direction and so walked at a clip, taking a shortcut through some hedges, jumping right in front of them before they closed the gap. I took my place. And I waited, and waited, and waited. The facility was hot and stuffy. I smelled some sort of stench coming from inside. The more the line inched forward, the stronger and more putrid the funk got. My olfactory glands hung on for dear life, struggling not to collapse my nose. The young man in front of me started fanning his and pinching his nostrils together. The line inched forward some more. I'd been holding my breath the whole time, and made the mistake of inhaling to take in some air. The perfume was undeniable: rank breath, unwashed body, strong week old piss with a hot helping of fresh pee, dirty socks and mildew. I was awash in its aroma.
The line inched forward. I was standing directly in front of a bathroom door at this point. A volunteer made his way through the crowd, and went in. He opened the door and the smell of eau de TOILET added to the already pungent perfume swirling through and around the line. I slowly turned my head and stood with my back to the door so as not to smell or HEAR what was going on in the restroom. Fortunately the line began to move further up.
I looked at the time on my mobile phone:
12:45- I noticed an animated Latino family standing in front of the young guy fanning his nose. They pushed their elderly daddy in a wheelchair as the line moved forward. At this point, Fanning His Nose Guy started holding his nostrils and fanning at a feverish pace. I sighed and started texting my best friend Cat.
12:50- It still stinks and I'm still texting.
1:15- I finally make it in front of a middle-aged man checking photo IDs and the voting register. The Latino family left their old daddy parked right next to the election volunteer. They were nowhere to be seen. The man reeled back and away from the daddy in the wheelchair, turned up his nose and said, "Is someone helping you SIR??" Daddy pulled out a crumpled up Kleenex and began blowing his nose in response. A random voice yelled out, "I think his family is voting!" the man leaned further way from the daddy. I shrugged, assuming he was put off by the nose blowing.
I moved closer and opened my mouth to tell the volunteer that I'd just moved when the pissy aroma reeled up and bitch slapped me in the face hard, like an angry spirit. It was then that I realized the abuelito in the wheelchair was wearing the bulk of the pungent perfume of STANK. Breathless, I told the volunteer that I was new to the district and he directed me to another line. Annoyed over having to stand in another line, but glad to be away from the unwashed papá, I took my place.
1:20- Two elderly Black ladies sat behind a table. One drew lines on a blank piece of paper with the help of a ruler while the other was on the phone to City Hall... squinting at a piece of paper. Apparently trying to determine which district a perplexed gentleman was supposed to be at. I sighed.
1:25- It was clear I wasn't going to make it back from lunch at 1:30, so I placed a call to work.
1:27- The woman continued to draw her lines. "I don't know if this gon' work" she muttered to herself, as she struggled to line up her ruler. The other granny continued to squint at the paper with the phone cradled between her ear and shoulder. An Ethiopian man in front of me grew impatient, "I need to be at work een 9 meenutes! I deedn't even eat yet!" he said in an agitated voice. "We doin' the best we can" granny on the phone said. I rolled my eyes.Then glowered at the woman drawing the lines. She never looked up.
1:30- "Can I help you?" granny on the phone (now off the phone) finally said to me. I told her that I was new to that particular voting district and I may not be on the list, and that my old polling district assured me I only needed to fill out a form, updating my info. "Oh no honey. THIS your voting district, you gotta go to 500 Main Street." She showed me where I was, in fact, listed on the registration form, pointing to district 19 with a pen. "NO!" I said impatiently, "that's my OLD district. I just moved near HERE. I need to fill out one of those pink forms and update my address. I'm at the right place." "Ohhh." she said, finally understanding. "The administrator needs to approve this info." I sighed, and followed her to yet another table.
1:34- "You're all set!" the woman behind the table said. FINALLY. "Just fill out this voter registration card with your new address and mail it to City Hall. The rest of your info is up to date. You're registered already." Relieved, I went to retrieve a ballad so that I can place my vote!
1:38- I slip my ballad in the machine. A man, another volunteer peeled the backing off of an I Voted sticker and stood poised. I reached for it, he pulled back. I held out my red pashmina scarf, he shamelessly stuck it on my right bosom instead, and pushed it down to make sure it stuck. Then he patted my arm. I rolled my eyes and walked toward the EXIT, anxious to get the hell out of there.
I made it back to work at around 1:45!
Wednesday would restore my faith in our judgement as a nation, as I'm hopeful about its future. I'm also relieved to know that we as a community don't have to find Halle Berry and Denzel Washington's Oscar wins good enough to placate us, regarding how far we can get in this country.
The discussions instigated by some well-meaning? White people... strangers... so far, have already begun to agitate me. Annoy me in that-
"HaveyouseenthenewMalcolmXpostagestamp didyouvoteforObamaIsupportyourpeople'cause IhaveBlackfriendsdidyoucryIdid?IsawtheAmistadfivetimes didyoulikeit??IvotedforMcCainHopefully Obamaknowswhathe'sdoingbecause I'mindenialoverwhattheBushAdministrationdid!"
way. "We have four years to put up with this shit" I opined to a Black co-worker. She snickered and nodded in understanding, after an animated conversation by said type of person and proud McCain supporter. Considering this momentous occassion, I'm willing to suck it up.

November 02, 2008

These and Those

Schtuff continues to keep me extremely busy (I am at the tail end of having coordinated a list of successful activities to help raise money for the United Way Campaign), and I'm still breaking in my new abode. I'm also excited and a bit anxious about voting Tuesday. I've been having these huge-mini panic attacks, fearing that when I arrive at my designated polling station, something stupid is going to hinder me from being able to cast my vote! This is a historical election year, and I intend to exercise my right to vote!
On an interesting and unexpected note, last night I did something I hadn't done in years! I read (a poem) at a gathering. Folks, fellow artistes stood up and took the floor so to speak, and I got inspired (perhaps by the red wine and strawberry dacquiri I drank)- and decided to project my voice. It had been a while since I shared in that capacity, but it felt cathartic. Nerve wracking at first, but good nonetheless. I'm not really a performer, and usually share my chose art form through print. Spirited games of Taboo and Scategories (trash talking included) soon followed. Here're some of the other things I've been up to...
P.S. to my BFF Cat: Congrats to running a half marathon for Breast Cancer Awareness in San Francisco recently. I was only joking when I said you probably 'ran like a slave.' Election day is upon us, figured I'd clean this up to help ring in a new and hopefully monumental moment on a POSITIVE note.

February 24, 2008

Coffee Rhetoric

Recently, I read an interesting and eloquently written article in the New York Times, penned by Judith Warner. She drew a stellar correlation between coffee and significant childhood memories, and transported readers back with nostalgic, coffee-related flashbacks. Everyone who has ever read this blog pretty much knows how much I adore the stuff. It's more than a simple addiction to caffeine. The smell, the look, the body, the richness of a dark roast, it's rich history... everything about coffee also stirs certain feelings and memories within me. I remember my mother brewing pot and then making a perfect mug full, warning me not to touch it before setting it on the table to settle just a bit. Of course I never listened for I always indulged in just a sip when she left the room. When I think of coffee, I'm reminded of how, at the precocious age of 13, excited I was to be skipping to the cafe downtown to indulge in a cup. I, a fledgling hipster, drawing the disgusted gasps of my classmates as they exclaimed, "Ew, you drink coffee? Yuck!" And how grownup I felt when I ordered an espresso or a mocha... eventually graduating to a Mocha Kiss (a concoction of coffee, chocolate, and Khalua liqueur)by the time I'd entered high school. Never having been carded.
Every now and again, I would coerce a friend to join me in my afterschool cafe jaunts, growing annoyed if they scoffed at the cafe culture and didn't act mature enough in said company. Despite the on again-off-again declarations made by experts, citing coffee as being bad for one's health, it never and still doesn't phase me.
There's a certain sophistication about coffee drinking. Of sitting across from a friend or loved one steam rising from cups, as you play catch up, engage in gossip, or just simply enjoy one another's company. The comfort of sitting in a coffee house people gazing, dreaming wide awake, lost in thought. There is definitely something about the coffee culture that prompts people to slow down. I remember being in Sicily and noticing the absence of take away cups. Patrons simply stood at the bar en route to work or some place else, downing their espressos and being in that moment. Using those few minutes to exchange pleasantries or catch up with the latest.
I can't fathom not drinking coffee. It has always played a significant part in who I am. It helps define my personality. More importantly, it sets the tone for the rest of the day or it makes it easier to cope, anyway. Perhaps this is why diners offer copious amounts of free refills and banks and most offices offer free, limitless cups of freshly brewed coffee to its patrons and co-workers.

March 01, 2007

It's Caffeine Awareness Month!

"All these people are quite base, of low costume and very little industry, such that for the most part they spend their time sunk in idleness. Thus they continually sit about, and for entertainment they are in the habit of drinking in public, in shops and in the streets- black liquid, boiling [as hot] as they can stand it, which is extracted from a seed they call Cavee... and it is said to have the property of keep a man awake." Francisco Morosini, ca. 1585
If you've been reading this blog for a good spell, Then you all know how I feel about coffee. The smell... that robust taste... the intensity of a nice, strong, bean... I love it equally as much as I enjoy a nice, robust glass of red wine. Today is the beginning of Caffeine Awareness month. Caffeine is a stimulant found in a number of things, I realize, but I don't drink sody pop... I do consume large amounts of chocolate and coffee though... and so will dedicate this post to the powerhouse beverage, whose bean tastes even better, dipped in dark chocolate.
I'd like to espouse this month by offering a few ways to further enjoy the ... joys of coffee.
Interesting reads: Coffee and Coffee Houses by Ulla Heis
Cafe Nation (my personal favorite): Coffee Folklore, Magick, and Divination by Sandra Mizumoto Posey
Captivating (and underrated) brews: Cafe Bustelo
Chock Full o'Nuts
Take a drag (if you feel inclined to do so, socially): Djarum Black, Cappuccino
Slather on: Bonnie Bell's Lip Lites in Metallic Mocha, Mocha Mousse, Cappuccino, Caramel Latte, etc...
Bathe your naughty bits BodyCoffee Energizing Bar Even though it smells minty and feels tingly, it's made with coffee grounds and coffee extract. It's great for the skin and it feels good.
I saved the best for last: Chocolate covered coffee beans.