Over coffee

22 07 2009


MY BODY, just like yours, is no more virgin territory for caffeine.

Coffee 00

These five large cups of Coffee California® Mocha Manic were staring at me by 3:00 P.M. – and inspired this post!

Thanks to coffee-only breakfasts, I have enough caffeine traces present in my bloodstream necessary for normal physiological functions.  And thanks to getting introduced to gourmet coffee years ago, I may just have had my bloodsteam replaced by “caffeine”-stream.

I am not a coffee addict as you would probably conclude at lightning fast speed from the previous paragraph.  Thankfully, I still don’t see in the horizon the precipice of early coffee addiction as characterized by uncontrollable shivering when missing a cup or two.  Besides, I don’t get my jaws falling to the floor – tongue rolling out as a red carpet would – while endlessly drooling at the mere sight of hot mocha java.  Nah, never I guess.  I’d like to think of myself more along the line of a simple coffee lover.  And my love for the beverage neither came solely from the unparalleled olfactory sensation its finely roasted aroma brings nor from its ability to combat the pestilential pecking chicken syndrome that hits after lunch time.

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I only respond to "Clark" when it comes to my coffee!


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"One Praline Mocha Crunch for Clark!"... It's "Clark" wherever I go get my coffee.

It all started over a decade ago at a place that helped define my “formative” yuppie years – Dean St. Café on Pasay Road in Makati.  Out of nowhere, I got an invite from a fellow engineer to have coffee after five, which at that time and with the work that I was doing then, meant any time from 9:00 P.M. onwards.  We went to the place and the first thing that I noticed was the dim light and the cozy ambiance that were a sharp disparity from the “klieg light”-lit restos and Parisian style breezy terrace cafés I had used to frequent.  Entering the café, I found myself surrounded by walking perfume bottles and walking chimneys.  The intricate mingle of signature scents and puffs of cigarettes gave the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans an onerous task of finding its way into my nostrils.  But coffee aroma later proved strongest and it soon drowned that vast invisible sea of Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera…  and Hope, Marlboro and Philip Morris.

I vividly recall the very first fancy coffee confection I have ever ordered.  It was cold, served in a tall glass, with a large dollop of whipped cream on top, and dusted generously with multi-colored jimmies.  My first sip was a full-on lip-to-glass action as I totally ignored the straw that ran the long length of the glass, sticking out of the cloud of cream.  But even before I could fully savor the feel of  my tongue licking the whipped cream mustache created by my quick sip, the person who invited me over launched into an unbridled account of the day that was and all the frustrations that came free with it.  Eventually, I chimed in.

The conversation was pretense-free and sincere – the anithesis of the holier-than-thou types.  Regardless of the topics, there was nothing but a convivial atmosphere at that table.  Mostly a “piping saksi” (silent witness) at the time, I marveled at how caffeine could cause the release of hormones to shoo away inhibitions.  Who needed booze?  Soon, I found out that, unmasked of professional feisty fronts, every person could be stupid or paranoid.  That every person is indeed every inch a human being.

That one night gave birth to my classic one-liner “Kailangan na nating magkape!” (“We need to have coffee!”), varied as “Kape lang ‘yan!”  (“All that needs is coffee!”).  Coffee-drinking has since become something much in the same fashon as the adrenaline shot Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction badly needed to revive her after overdosing on heroin mistakenly sniffed as cocaine.  Yes, coffee-drinking got promoted from the stereotypical morning caffeine fix to a social, psychological and emotional midnight society gathering kind of thing.  Talking over coffee has become the epinephrine to our otherwise stressed out, spaced out existence.

So everytime I’m at my wits’ end – or simply when I hit a standstill in front of my laptop at work – I stop.  And I go get coffee, preferably with a friend.  Better to fork over fifty to about a hundred pesos each time, than save up for a shrink’s skyscraper-high fees!  With a perfectly brewed cup in hand – do I hear “half-caf Sumatra, soy milk, exactly 121 degrees”? – and a few minutes with a good friend, I learn about the many personalities and idiosyncrasies that make me up and the people around me.  I learn about the very same things that I may have to put up with.  And that begins with the many personalities that are “me.”  Hahaha!

Besides getting to let out all angst in “Brothers & Sisters” proportions, I’ve cultivated a sense of humor about myself that has saved me from doing berserk and stentorian hysteria for which I have come to loathe and abhor some people.  With a cup in hand, I realize that I couldn’t run around harping about a problem-free philosophy in life as if I were Pumbaa and Timon jumping out of Walt Disney’s “The Lion King.”  Captured in celluloid, I think that any coffee-drinking session would do justice to the docu-drama concept much better than what “Let’s Talk About Sex” did for the lives of sexually tensed Los Angelinos.  And – it has to be mentioned – I, like everybody else, have terrible stories to tell.  Hahaha!

Coffee 02

Pensive or waxing nostalgic?

It has been a while since I’ve really shared a cup and a good conversation with a friend.  Mostly these days, getting my fix just means going – by my lonesome – to the Coffee California® kiosk here in the office and asking for either a Mocha Manic, a White Satin Mocha, a California Heath Frappe, or a Chocolate Espresso Blizzard.  The closest to a meaningful conversation would be to engage the baristas in small talk.  And with my corny and dry sense of humor, I really feel the need to leave the hapless victims I’ve made of the baristas with a generous tip to make up for wasting their time.  Hahaha!

Day in Makati - Starbucks 02 Coffee Name

Yep, that's my coffee name!

But walking my way back to my office cubicle, I realize that while I may be waxing nostalgic about coffee sessions in the past, I have to feel fortunate enough that nobody calls me up in the really ungodly early hours in the morning just to tell me to pick up someone’s coffee order on my way to work – “one no-foam skimmed latte with an extra shot and three drip coffees with room for milk.”  Hahaha!

But if I ever did, it would be nothing short of doing someone a huge favor.

Coffee 01

It took someone passing by to notice that – so far – I had already consumed five! And that I should seriously consider recycling!