Welcome to the Fictional Café! Serendipitously, the New York Times published an article, “Coffee Rites and the Stories They Tell,” just the other day. The writer quotes from a book entitled Buzz by Stephen Braun, who writes that caffeine is akin to “putting a block of wood under your brake pedal.” I like that. I like guys who are funny and write books and drink coffee. Even those who write books about coffee.
Braun says he sometimes takes “coffee vacations,” which I would never personally risk, but always has a cup of Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend when he gets back on the wagon. That’s one of my personal favorites, too.
In my little community, we have a Peet’s, a Starbucks, a Dunkin’ Donuts, a Panera, and a bike shop where you can get the best, barista-made latte in town, all within a few strides of one another. Seriously. You couldn’t finish a cappuccino in the time it takes to walk from one to the other. The way you see the locals, from the teenagers at the high school to the businesspeople, walk around with their cardboard cups of coffee and phones and briefcases and shopping bags and backpacks and stuff, proves that humans ought to have a third arm. I saw a woman rollerblading on the bike trail, pushing her baby in a carriage, holding a cup of Starbucks in one hand and talking on her mobile phone with the other. Now, there is a serious coffee-drinker.
But I digress. Favorite coffees. Well, I like to take guests to the bike shop because the barista is a real artist. I’m not crazy about Starbucks coffee, but it’s a great place to get together and jive with my writer-friends. Peet’s I like because the caffeine content is so high you practically have to eat it with a spoon. I’ll grab a Dunkin’ Donuts [around here we call them “Dunkie’s] when I’m slumming. I swear they are diluting their brew; I can practically read my newspaper through it, and that’s with the cream added.
By the way, I’m a cream-only guy. No sugar. Another reason I stay out of Dunkie’s. They always want to make mine a “regular.” I think their slug line ought to be “We Sell Sugar.”
Well, there I go, digressing again. Favorite coffee. Well, it’s what I brew at home, and it’s Trader Joe’s Dark Roast, the dark blue cardboard can. They jacked the price up a dollar last year, but it’s still a bargain: two pounds for $13.99, whole bean. Yep, I grind my own. I do as many measures of beans as cups of water, but heaping measures, and the coffeemaker is set to the slower dark brew setting. I get up in the morning, fill the water reservoir, grind the beans, and wait ten minutes. Then it’s coffee, classical music, the newspapers and my dog’s company [she gets a biscuit – sort of a loyalty thing with us] and half an hour to fuel my fires before I launch into the day. Two big cups, that’s all I need. Unless I’m socializing at Starbucks, discussing the latest literary events, which we do a lot of right here at the Fictional Café.