October 31, 2010

Cream and Sugar

I have espoused an almost militant avoidance of cream and sugar before, both online and to anyone who will listen. I congratulate customers who ask for their coffee black, and occasionally chastise those who do otherwise.

After all, my barista "character", if you will, is even more sarcastic and charmingly antagonistic than my more natural self. Which I've discussed before. The area behind the bar is something a stage, the baristi the actors giving a performance. It's not just my job to make the drink; it's to make doing so interesting, in and of itself.

But I digress. My barista philosophy has been discussed before, and will be again. But this post is about cream and sugar.

Which surely invites the question: Why post on that topic at all? Hasn't my stance been made clear enough. Well, yes. In general, I think coffee tastes much better black. I'd even go so far as to say that, if you're doctoring your coffee, you really aren't tasting the coffee at all. It takes very little cream, and not too much sugar, to render all coffee a creamy-sweet beverage with the same texture and taste, regardless of the brew which forms the base.

And so, if you say you like coffee, yet never drink the stuff straight, I must disagree with you. Respectfully, of course, but also quite firmly. Coffee is the black liquid; adding other stuff to it makes it something else altogether, I think, although that beverage is nameless.

But again, none of this is new. I'm a psychotic purist, probably an evangelical elitist on this point. This is not news. What is, is that I drank coffee with cream and sugar yesterday, and in fact do so every so often.

Wait, what? Am I really that kind of hypocrite? Am I the vehemently religious senator who browses the personal ads on craigslist? Perhaps, but I don't think so.

You see, coffee has many different uses, for many different contexts. When I'm drinking coffee to drink coffee, I drink it black. The taste is better, and of course, much truer. But I do drink coffee for other reasons, on occasion.

A splash of cream makes coffee, already the best beverage for a cold day, all the more comforting. There's something uniquely warming about fat when the temperature drops.

And then there is coffee as a pre-workout beverage, or pre-race drink. When performance is the goal, both cream and sugar give coffee that little caloric bump to get your body firing on all cylinders. It is for this reason that I consumed coffee with cream and sugar last night.

It was the end of a long day at work, yet I had a workout planned; and I'm not the type to cheat myself. And so I grabbed a coffee, splashed some cream in it and added two packets of raw sugar. The drink now provided me with caffeine, a little comforting and hunger silencing fat, as well as six grams of sugar to fuel my initial efforts.

The workout went well, so I dare say the drink did its job. Now, back to my black coffee, and rigid elitism.

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