Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to purchase coffee from a machine that looks like it ought to be dispensing coke instead. It is, perhaps, an even worse idea to purchase espresso from such a machine. I probably could have told you this before today -- but not from experience.
Earlier today, I found myself in the library. This is not, in and of itself, particularly remarkable. Libraries are places college students are expected to spend a decent amount of time in, after all. But they are not exciting places, frankly. Nor are they great places for purchasing coffee. Still, the former fact sometimes negates the latter.
Thus, after burying myself in homework for a couple hours, I desperately needed some sort of chemical jolt. But The Underground, and the Pulse coffee bar contained therein, were such a long walk -- probably like 100 yards or so. I didn't feel up to it. And so, with 78 cents jingling in my back pocket, I approached this dusty anachronism. Allegedly, it vended coffee and espresso -- both of which could be had for 50 cents.
Desperation and curiosity conspired together, and their combined efforts led to my purchasing something from this machine. I chose the espresso, more because I wanted to see just how awful it could be. Curiosity only ever killed cats, right? Not coffee drinkers.
I examined the cup, after extracting it from behind its cloudy plastic curtain. It looked, perhaps, like 3-4 ounces of liquid, though I doubted very much that it was in fact 3 or 4 conventional 1 oz "shots". But to my surprise, their appeared to be something like crema topping the beverage. At least, it was vaguely caramel colored. And so I did the only thing left to do, and sipped.
Imagine, if you will, a bottle of water, left in the back seat of your car for a week. Then imagine that said water was filtered through the contents found in a dumpster outside the worst coffee bar you can imagine. Imagine that, for some reason, you decided to drink the result.
It was far, far worse than that. Flat and pungent as can be, it was absolutely the worst thing claiming to have anything to do with coffee I've ingested in my life.
Desperate for reprieve, I hastened over to the nearby Pulse, and purchased a double shot of real, honest to goodness espresso. Comparatively, it was liquid bliss.