August 13, 2012

A Canuck in Kantuck: The foreign world of the coffee shop

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — My husband sat down in the car the other day after getting out of a coffee shop in South Dakota and shook his head.

“What is it,” I asked, noting he was holding onto the steering wheel particularly hard.

“The girl just asked me if I wanted my coffee hot,” he said. “I don’t know what the world is coming to.”

I laughed and filed the anecdote away in a growing mental folder entitled “Husband vs. Fancy Coffee.” It’s one that has been growing for years, in no small part because my husband is an avid coffee drinker and so has spent plenty of time waiting in line at little gourmet shops that roast their own beans.

My husband William is, without a doubt, a coffee purist. If it’s available, he gets espresso. If not, he gets it straight — no sugar, no cream or, as he likes to say, “hot and black, just like I like my women.”

But while he likes his coffee this way, plenty of other people do not and, because he has, perhaps, the worst luck in the world, he gets caught behind huge clots of these people in line.

According to my husband, plenty of these people are of the female variety and like to drink their coffee a very specific way. Often, he says, they’re wearing a loud combination of animal prints that in the wild would never survive — zebra mixed with cheetah, say. They are firmly in their 40s and 50s and have the remnants of Kate Gosselin’s bad haircut. Most importantly, without fail, they have plenty of time on their hands.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said, pushing his deep voice into a cracking falsetto: “I’ll have a half caf, skinny caf iced with whipped cream, a shot of hazelnut syrup and a package of Sweet ‘n Low.”

I’ll look at him laughing, hoping he won’t talk in falsetto for much longer. Luckily he doesn’t and concludes: “By the time they’re done, their coffees have 1,000 calories. I don’t think that pack of fake sugar is going to help.”

Still, while he gustily likes to complain about all the ways an iced mochachino “is a dessert, not coffee,” I’ve noticed he never fails to make the trip to the coffee shop alone. When he runs out of beans at the house, I’ll often ask him if he wants me to pick some up for him while I’m out running errands. But he’ll slyly deflect the question or offhandedly say he’ll stop by on his way to work.

I, of course, know all of this has to do with the cute, college-girl baristas who run the coffee shop show. Knowing my husband well, I can imagine him pouring on the charm as they just as deftly pour his coffee. He is probably very polite and cracks a few, well-timed jokes, appreciates their tightly-tied aprons and is on his way. Given that we’ve been together forever and he’s dealing with a wife high on Clomid-induced hormones, who am I to interfere with this exchange? The poor guy has got to have something.

Though I’m rarely stuck behind the Fancy Drinks Crowd, on the rare occasion I pick up the beans for him, I’m usually shocked by how long it takes. Given that I fulfill this duty about once a year, I generally have no idea which beans to choose, so the barista has to come from behind the counter to help me. Generally, it takes her about five seconds to identify me as a Non Coffee Drinker, which in the world of the coffee shop marks with a giant L on my forehead. After she faux-patiently picks out the Ethiopian variety, then grinds it, then packs it, then swipes my card, a solid 10 minutes have passed. Probably because there is no prize at the end of this race for me, i.e. a cup of Joe, I find it dull and lengthy. So I just stare at the pastries in the front counter, which are usually drizzled in a delectable white icing, and toy with the idea of buying one, which I manage to never do.

I suppose if I actually drank coffee, it would be different. But caffeine, unfortunately, gets me so high it makes me want to yip like a very small dog barking at the mailman. It also makes me wake up at 1 in the morning and I stay that way, stiff, uncomfortable and unblinking, for the next five hours. Needless to say, I avoid it.

So I’ll continue to live the coffee shop experience through my husband and wait for the rare times he gets back in the car with a little blush and a chuckle. “They have a sign in there saying, ‘Unattended children will be given espresso and a puppy.’ That’s rich.”

Text Only
  • mitch.jpg On The Rebound: All Star Game less important than Wiffle Ball

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • denis.jpg Direct Kick: A very eventful week in sports

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • The shining kingdom

    The drop in gas prices locally is a welcome sight for most residents in the area with gas falling under $3.60 per gallon.

    July 16, 2014

  • Letter to the editor: Thanks, Sentinel-Echo

    In the July 4 edition of the Sentinel-Echo, (last page, section 1), the entire page was given to quotes of references to God, the Declaration of Independence, and our constitution by our founding fathers, former presidents, Supreme Court judges, etc. 

    July 14, 2014

  • Zamperini's story was inspiring

    I had never heard the names of Louis Zamperini and Russel Allen Phillips until my pastor gave me a book, “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” by author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote, “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” a few years ago.

    July 11, 2014

  • The tales of Dr. Robert E. Pennington

    When Dr. H. V. Pennington began to practice medicine in Laurel County times were hard and medical methods were primitive, compared to today. 

    July 11, 2014

  • Where did that red truck go?

     We were sitting out on the front porch last Saturday afternoon when a  big, red, late- model pick up whizzed by on Charlie Brown.  It looked like there was a man driving and a woman riding shotgun  

    July 7, 2014

  • A change for Pace

    Let me tell you a little about my friend Candice Pace. We were sitting in the fountain square the other day and she was telling me about how she had driven to Pikeville, where she’s from, to visit with her mom. Along the way, deep in McCreary County, she passed three turtles that were crossing the road.Let me tell you a little about my friend Candice Pace. We were sitting in the fountain square the other day and she was telling me about how she had driven to Pikeville, where she’s from, to visit with her mom. Along the way, deep in McCreary County, she passed three turtles that were crossing the road.

    July 7, 2014

  • mitch.jpg On The Rebound: A little effort can make a big difference

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gordon Wayne Weston

    Gordon Wayne Weston, 61, of London, Ky., passed away Friday, June 27, 2014, at his home surrounded by his loving family. 


    July 3, 2014

AP Video
Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
     View Results