That's right, once upon a time I worked in a little espresso stand in a dinky little "town". This was long before Starbucks came rolling in and educated the people on the difference between a cappuccino and a mocha...though they still haven't educated anyone on what good coffee is. The people of this town, and neighboring towns were very interesting folks. And by interesting I mean that the pretty ones had most of their teeth intact and wore both shoes at the same time. The pretty ones also wore a colorful assortment of stained pajamas for their "going out" clothes. Now I've never been to Alabama, so I don't want to offend anyone, but I'm just going to go on the assumption of the things I've seen in movies that take place in Alabama. Take away the southern hospitality, banjos, sweet tea, and alligators....and there you have the town that I worked in.
Now, I don't know about you, but I have never seen the word "espresso" spelled with an "x", yet most everyone said "EXpresso". And most of my customers didn't know what anything was that ventured outside of being plain old coffee. "I'll have one uh dem mocha laddees' please". Um, what? I could never figure out if they actually wanted a mocha, or a latte, so I just made them what I figured they wanted. Steam some milk, add a little bit of espresso, and LOTS of chocolate. They felt proud and refined for ordering an espresso in the first place, so I just went along with it and didn't tell them they were drinking hot chocolate with a teaspoon of coffee in it.
My favorite customers were the ones that had absolutely no clue what anything was, they couldn't even compute why they were there looking at a board with words on it! They looked as if it was their first day on earth and they were so confused by what that little white building next to the road was. There they were looking at a menu full of Italian words and they hadn't even finished learning their mother-tongue. Those were the people that always ordered a cappuccino because they remembered hearing that on t.v. or something. I was hesitant to make it, but went ahead with the order not wanting to talk down to anyone, "excuse me sir, but do you even know what a cappuccino is?". No, I didn't want to be like that. So I just pulled out the old standby, "would you like that wet or dry?". The dumbfounded look on their face revealed it all. After explaining in detail every item on the menu they would usually decide on an espresso milkshake....without duh coffee stuff in it, they didn't like coffee. I must clarify though, when I am speaking about these people, I am not referring to those that are simply undecided in what they want, or are just confused by the menu. These unique individuals were confused by the board itself that the menu was written on.
The most exciting day of my barista career was when two businessmen from New York were driving through the state and pulled off of the freeway to my little old coffee shack. One ordered a latte and the other ordered a dry cappuccino! I told them to bear with me, I didn't have a whole lot of experience making cappuccinos because everyone always ended up changing their minds after finding out what they were. I successfully made a dry cappuccino and they were very happy with their drinks. I had finally fulfilled my barista destiny! I made real drinks for real people!
In my glorified hot-chocolate making career I made many delicious coffee and espresso drinks for myself and my family. Whenever I found out that my sister, CC, was at my parent's house I handcrafted her a FREE drink of art and brought it home to her. That is why I think I should win some coffee all these years later! Oh, and I would like to clear something up. I am not trying to be mean to the confused people out there. I am not pretentious and I do not think that because someone doesn't know about coffee and espresso that they are stupid. I do, however, have a slight problem with people that have six kids in tow, a pregnant belly, cigarette dangling out of mouth, yelling at the kids and baby's daddy, throwing empty soda cans and cigarette cartons back at the kid's heads, all while trying to order her 75 oz. iced mocha with 5 shots of caramel. And then to top it off, it's oh so very hard for her to drive away and pour the contents of her flask into the drink at the same time. OK, so I'm exaggerating.....slightly. Now, I do have to admit that there was one nice guy who brought his mom with him to ask me out. When I politely told him that I was unavailable he kindly yelled "CRAP!" at the top of his lungs and told his mom to drive off. I didn't stay at that job too long. But I still love coffee.