Waiter, there’s a snob in my coffee!

I feel like you should know that while writing this column, I was not wearing any pants. That’s because I often use an ancient writing technique known as ‘working from home’, which is also what Rahul Gandhi must feel like every time he’s in Parliament. (Although he must keep his pants on at all times, unless there is a secret deal with the DMK that stipulates otherwise)

However, this work-from-home business gets weird after a while, especially when I start hearing voices in my head, all of which are telling me to go shower. That’s when it’s time to head to the refuge most favoured by nomadic professionals – the coffee shop.

Except that there’s no damn coffee to be found.

OK, I’ll rephrase. I can’t seem to find coffee that tastes like the stuff I used to drink years ago, i.e. in the pre-coffee chain days, when people thought ‘Macchiato’ was some Punjabi swearword.

Over the years, I’ve tried to make my peace with the mud-flavoured bile they serve in coffee shops, simply because I need caffeine like Kamran Akmal needs catch practice. Without caffeine in my system, I’m just a life-sized paperweight (Like Sohail Khan, who also doubles up as a door-stopper)

But this means having to deal with a bunch of flavours and add-ons that I’m sure are intended as a ‘happy’ distraction, sort of like your stalker having the courtesy to wear your favourite cologne.

So there I am, in line at a coffee shop, with a deadline looming large and my brain functioning at the speed of Andheri traffic.

Me: *hnnnzzz* Want… coffee… I… do.

At this point, the Universe unleashes upon me an attendant with extraordinary morning cheer, the kind that is acceptable only if your mornings involve waking up next to Scarlett Johansson.

Attendant: Sir, what kind of coffee would you like? You should try out the Grande Muchas Frappacino Hazelnut Ethiopian Ninja Nitrate Mpumelelo Mbangwa Blend –

Me: Don’t you have regular coffee? Y’know, just coffee, milk, sugar…

Attendant: No Sir, but I’ll throw in some coca leaves picked by Columbian midgets and top it off with fresh cream derived from Angelina Jolie’s breast milk.

Me: Sigh. Yes, whatever. I’ll have that.

Attendant: Sir, what size do you want? It is coming in Small, Medium, Large, Extra-large and Holy Mother of God, What Are You A Buffalo?

Also, if there’s one thing that fuels creativity apart from caffeine, it’s food. The right food does wonders for the imagination. In fact, the great sculptor Michelangelo was inspired to create David after devouring a sausage platter. (However, as you can tell, the portions were quite small)

In that respect, one of my favourite writing haunts would have to be the erstwhile JATC at Bandra. It scored over most coffee shops simply because it offered options other than ‘chicken-flavoured rubber strip between two slices of sandpaper’.

Of course, now it has transformed into the fancy EATC, boasting of a lovely, gulag-style boundary wall, and a management that wouldn’t take kindly to writers sitting around for hours, refining their anatomy-based punchlines.

With no other options in sight, I guess coffee shops will continue to be my workplace for a while. So if you’re out at one, and notice a convict-type fellow hunched over a laptop, feel free to come up and say hello. In fact, get me a coffee while you’re at it. Home-made, please.

(Note: This is my HT column, dated 13th March 2011)


24 responses to “Waiter, there’s a snob in my coffee!

  1. Hahaha good one.. And I totally agree.. Coffee in these chains suck and they’re priced so high! We need some local innovation on this front

  2. Tried Mysore cafe Filter coffee? 😉

  3. my first visit. hilarious!

  4. Priyanka Jambhekar

    “Holy Mother of God, What Are You A Buffalo?” ROFL! Hilarious 😀
    Also I totally agree. These coffee shops [their menus contain terms more complicated than those in an atomic physics textbook :P] are a major source of exasperation. Nothing better than a strong homemade coffee 🙂

  5. Hey, just randomly reached your blog and loved it.
    Blogrolling you.

  6. Sheer, utter Genius!
    “… ‘Macchiato’ was some Punjabi swearword” HAHAHA!! Inspired! I will be using it as a swearword henceforth 😀

    I suspect the baristas at Starbucks go through some sort of brainwashing, Zoolander style, at their training. They simply cannot fathom drink sizes if you don’t say whatever term it is that they use.

    Yeah but, why not a normal chai ki tapri? You’ll find plenty of material too there … y’know?

    I’ve been forced to adopt cofee-sugar-milk in a sachet as my daily dose of caffeine, it still beats all the coffee chain crap hands down a hundred times over, with it’s hands and feet tied up too.

  7. They also tend to dislike people ordering Espresso. Try asking for one at a CCD, and the waiter/waitress will look at you like you’re an idiot, and invariably tell you “Espresso is black coffee” in the hope that you will not buy it for one of two reasons:
    a. You didn’t know it’s black and this new knowledge will change your mind
    b. The guy on the next table has now found out that you’re ordering the cheapest coffee available, and you’re embarrassed into ordering something else instead

  8. First time reading your blog. Witty humor… wonderfully entertaining writing. Will keep coming back to read more 🙂

  9. You posted about coffee *sighs sentimentally*

    Here you go. Take notes.

    The best filter coffee, hands down, is to be found in Coffee Centre, near Horniman Circle Garden. But since you live on the wrong side of Dadar, Bandra and even Andheri, try this gem of customised ordering. Walk into a Cafe Coffee Day or a Barista and order an espresso with a side order of whipped cream. Stir cream gently into coffee, add sugar as required, sip slowly and slide into caffeine nirvana.

    If the next thing you know you’re buzzing around on the Worli sea-link, I’m not responsible.

    • I’m just an Andheri-snob. Bandra, Horniman and other parts of South Bombay are absolutely fine 🙂 Must try out the espresso thing at CCD (it may just help negate the effect of their playlists and food)

  10. Hey, great writing! Anybody who mentions Jolie’s breasts is my instant hero!

    So it seems there is definitely a niche market for a something like “Just coffee” – good ol’ filter coffee in the tapari size servings and no attitude.

  11. 1st time m readin yo blog its gud

  12. Oh, the travails of buying coffee! Does to stick to one particular size and kind. Rather reminded me of this: http://bit.ly/cjCUPB. Universal malaise?

  13. Aakriti Vasudeva

    Absolutely love your blog! It’s HOWLARIOUS! My boyfriend suggested it to me. Best thing he’s ever done! 😀
    Totally agree with you about JATC…oops EATC..can’t bring myself to call it by it’s new name…
    I was a regular there..on account of being in one of the colleges nearby…and they’ve ruined that gem of a place..what’s with the pretentious 6 feet walls?
    You know what I loved most about the place though ?That even though I didn’t know anyone who frequented the place by name…I knew most of them by face..and going there gave me a strange feeling of homeliness..
    I’ve whiled away many hours at the table next to the fountain…aaah…miss it so much 😦

  14. The coffee chains had just one plus, the cold coffee and you missed it. Nice bashing by the way. Love all your posts and am I late here or what? *dusts self* 😀

  15. Been looking for you for so long..finally found ya..! Love your posts.. 🙂

  16. Ashish wrote this article in March last year and whosoever she is ( or was ) wrote the same Dec. You do the math!

  17. ‘Chicken flavored rubber strip between two slices of sand paper’– Hahahaaha, SO very true.

  18. This made my day! Very witty! 😀

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