Hi Hi sisters ....... have you ever met someone whom you take an instant liking to and feel a special bonding between the two of you? Well, I’m not really talking about the mother sitting next to you in the PTA meeting or a fellow fan who you share a common interest for BYJ. I meant someone quite different from you – a different country, a different language, and even a different generation?
Well, I have the pleasure of meeting such a charming young lady back in summer 2007 while visiting Tokyo. Since then, we passed by each other a few more times in Gosireh after I moved here. But every time I was with a group of sisters and she was always busy, our interactions were only limited to a formal Konnichiwa, a genuine smile to each other and a hopeful promise to return. Our friendship really started to realize recently when the kind Olivia and cloudnine acted as our bridge of communications.
Yesterday, dear cloudnine, our imooto-chan (hehe, imooto is younger sister) and I spent a leisurely afternoon attending a Coffee seminar by ‘none other than our friendly around the corner’ Starbucks Coffee Company. And in the usual attentive Japanese standard, the staff:customer ratio is at least 1:1 meaning in every direction you turned to, there is always a staff smiling and anticipating your next request.
Since I am more of a tea person, excuse me if I sound a bit uncivilized or unsophisticated in the art of Coffee. Before I walked into this seminar, my idea of a cuppa is nothing more than java loaded with butter milk, maple sugar, whip cream, chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, the fancier the merrier! It’s such an ironic coincidence that the night before I happened to re-watch the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ in which Tom Hanks wrote to Meg Ryan :
“You know the whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people who have no decision-making ability whatsoever to make 6 decisions just to buy 1 cup of coffee? For people who don’t know what the hell they are doing or who they are, can for $2.95, not only get a cup of coffee, but an absolute defining sense of self! Tall, decaf, non-fat .....”
Hahaha, how brilliant and so true! Haven’t you ever pondered in front of a Starbucks chalkboard menu as if you are reading a scientific journal while the cashier is staring at you pitifully like you have a literacy problem AND the people lineup behind you are jiggling impatiently as if they have to run off to a G7 Economic Summit or something? True, I know you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy a java at Starbucks, but you pretty much need to be a genius mathematician (well obviously, all their staffs are!) to figure out all the computations and permutations from their multitudes of options. Every time before I go to Starbucks, I’d tell myself, “Ok Jaime, don’t be such a bore. This time you got to try something different!” But alas, a Tall is a regular and a Grande is a large, so what’re a small and a jumbo? At the end, I still have the same old boring café latte in my hand when I step out of the joint :(
Oops sorry, I diverge again, back to the seminar. So when the presenter handed me my first cup of coffee, I habitually asked for my cream and sugar, double double please. He looked at me with a despicable disbelief, “we hope you can enjoy the real taste of coffee here, we will not serve cream and sugar in this seminar.” What?! What’s coffee without cream and sugar, you might as well tell me to drink black ink right now! I can already feel those poor taste buds in my tongue and throat planning a mass exodus somewhere.
Well, I wouldn't do justice to the seminar if I don't write about what they preach. So, a bit of coffee facts here : coffee growth largely depends on the ideal climate, altitude of the land and its soil condition. The global coffee belt lies between 2 Latitudes, namely the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. In Latin America, countries like Colombia and Jamaica tend to produce medium body, smooth tasting coffee while Asia Pacific, in particular Indonesia produces full bodied, smooth acid tasting coffee. In Africa Arabia, a more complex, spicy citrus tasting coffee is produced. The 2 most common coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta, 75% of the world’s are Arabica which are used in brewing coffee, latte, espressos etc. while Robusta beans are used for instant coffee and vending machines.
When you drink coffee, there are 4 facets that you want to consider :
1. aroma – hold the hot coffee up to your face without burning your nose and breathe in.
2. acidity - take a small sip and savor it at both sides of your tongue to feel the taste.
3. body - the richness or lightness of the coffee. Hehe, I actually thought how much you dilute it, silly me.
4. flavor – the taste, is it smooth, spicy or citrus-y?
We are served with Sumatra (Asia Pacific) and Ethiopia (Africa) coffee, then Guatemala (Latin America). I know cloudnine likes her coffee black. I turned to my pretty imooto-chan with an inquisitive look “daijobu?” She nodded and smiled to reassure me that she does not take milk or sugar in her coffee either. I looked at the other 4 ladies and they have not thrown up yet. Okkkkkk, so I guess I was the only weird one there! The presenter was eager to fetch our reactions to each coffee especially I had this dazed, murky look on my face. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, I am very willing and readily to share my opinion with others. However I didn’t think he’d be too thrilled to hear me say, “Um Hm, well, my thoughts on the 3 kinds of coffee are bitter, bitterer and bitterest!” so I stuck these goodies in my mouth to keep it occupied :)
Regardless, I still enjoyed my ‘enchanted-leisure turned caffeine-charged’ afternoon with cloudnine and my imooto-chan, just hope they were not bore to pieces. I thought I could blog about this last night, afterall, I did have 4 cups of black ink, oops I meant black coffee! Hahaha, but I slept like a baby, must be charmed out by my lovely companions :)