Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday! Friday! Friday! I'd mention the 'casual jeans' part but I haven't bothered dressing for work in months.
This is the post where I swing the content-sensing ads at the top of the page (which use awesome Google technology) back around to coffee, hopefully. When they start displaying anti-depressant links, I know I've gone too far.
This morning I stopped at my 24-hour Starbucks to get the Breakfast Blend I've been using as a breakfast substitute all week.
As I've mentioned, the 24-hour Starbucks is different from your average free-standing Starbucks, and miles away from a Starbucks in a mall, grocery store or Target. Architecturally, its freaking round. The drive through snakes around the building in an actual curve because there are no corners. It hugs the covered patio area and exits into a parking lot instead of the busy street. Not that any street is bust at 5:45am.
I've talked a bit about the crowd that wanders in. They have the expected "drinking coffee to sober up even though no one still thinks that works" bunch, some students using the wireless internet and nursing a cup of coffee for hours (I did the same thing in college, but without the illusion of study materials), people on their way to (or maybe from) work (a minority), some probable vampires and a random element which changes day to day.
This is also the most adequately staffed Starbucks I've ever been in.
They just added a Starbucks in Lake Charles, Louisiana and I've been there a few times. As is the standard, there are always three people working at that Starbucks. One takes the orders for Vanilla Bean Frappachinos and the other two divide the Vanilla Bean Frappachinos by size and distribute them. I'm pretty sure Vanilla Bean Frappachinos are all that Starbucks makes because I ordered a regular coffee on my last visit and I think the cashier hit the silent alarm.
The 24-hour Starbucks has three people just working the drive through. There is a swarm of activity behind the counter and someone is always polishing the pastry display to an almost wet-looking shine. The 24-hour Starbucks also has one of the "Black Apron" employees. Recently, "Black Apron" was used as a name for their designer coffee blends which sold, unbrewed only, for premium prices. The "Black Apron" employees themselves go through rigorous training to attain special knowledge of coffees from around the world. Everything from optimal brewing temperature by coffee region to taste mapping varied blends to compliment specific foods, these employees are the rock stars of their industry. And the guy is generally there when I'm there before 6am. Of course, with access to that much coffee I'd never sleep either.
Watching the employees interact with the "Black Apron" employee is interesting. He is not, from what I've seen, a manager, but everyone defers to him about everything because he is just the "guy who knows". As a side note, I hope to be the "guy who knows" at my next job.
In a sense, it is a lot like all the junior stylists consulting with the guy with long hair and attitude who works in the same salon.
This morning I asked for a Breakfast Blend (more caffeine) and actually heard the lumpy pour.
So did the "Black Apron" employee. But he heard it from the office area in the back.
Before the regular green apron employee could even turn around, the "Black Apron" guy was at the counter, looking horrified. "It seems the Breakfast Blend has grounds in it, sir."
Um, ok.
In order to prevent what I assumed was bound to end in ritual suicide, I responded, "That's fine. The grounds are where you hide the heroin, right?"
In case you run across one, you can't joke with the "Black Apron".
"Can we offer you a Verona instead? It has a slightly acidic yet smoky flavor and I set this pot to brew myself. It is a personal favorite of mine."
How can I turn that down?
"That sounds good. Thank you." I smiled.
"Yes, the Breakfast Blend would be gritty and unpleasant with grounds in it," for some reason he continued the sale, "You'll be much happier with the Verona."
"Thanks." My face started to hurt from my uncomfortable pre-coffee smile.
And so, I saved someone's life this morning by accepting the Verona. That "Black Apron" guy would have totally gone on a spree.
On my way out, clutching my acidic and smoky coffee, I spotted the random element for the day: Two white guys wearing business suits were sitting in the patio area. Both had dreadlocks down to their waists. Those guys would drink coffee with grounds in it.

edit: During the spell check for this post I learned that the closest thing in the spell check dictionary to "Frappachino" is "Propaganda". Insert your own random conspiracy theory here:


Joe said...

Illuminati and Venti do sound somewhat alike ...

Anonymous said...

Garrick - starbucks isn't new to Lake Charles, there used to be one in the Albertsons on Ryan Street and Lake Street. Not sure if it's still there though.

Garrick said...

Very true, Leslea. I also don't know if it is still there.
I wonder if the people that visit that one stick to frozen coffee-free drinks?
I'm not going to make a trip to find out. I'm not that into research!

Andrew Moore said...

Wasn't "Venti Frappuccino" a character in a Dan Brown novel? I think he was some kind of sadistic Benedictine ninja.

Joe said...

I'll wager that Leni Riefenstahl enjoyed a good frappuccino ...