Monday, November 12, 2007

The Morning Beverage Minority

I do not drink coffee.

I wish that I drank coffee. I would love to be referred to as a coffee drinker. “There goes Robert,” they would say. “He’s a coffee drinker.”

I think it would be cool to sit in a coffee shop and sip some type of mocha concoction and read the New York Times. On occasion I would order an exotic frappe-something-or-other. At Christmas I would order the Holiday Blend, at Valentine’s the White-Chocolate Blend, and on Millard Fillmore’s birthday, I would order the Millard Blend— a Fillmorchino.

Maybe I would order a “tall coffee” even though “tall” is the smallest size. In my mind’s eye, I see myself saying, “I would like a TALL mocha-frappe something.” And I look cool saying it.

“Grande” is a medium-sized coffee. Saying “grande” is not as hip as saying “tall.” It seems that a word such as “grande” should refer to the largest size available. Not so. “Venti” is the largest sized coffee available.

Venti sounds like a foreign car, not a beverage size. If I was a coffee drinker, and I drank a lot of coffee, I would not order a venti or a grande. I would order a tall and go back for refills, often.

On second thought, if I was a coffee drinker, I don’t think I would want my coffee to be mocha’ed or frappe’d or Millard’ed. I wouldn’t want any flavoring in my coffee. No caramel or vanilla or pumpkin— just coffee-flavored coffee.

If I were not in a coffee shop, I would order black coffee. There is something manly about ordering a “black coffee.” No sugar, no cream, no foamy stuff, just a cup of three-hours-old, sitting-on-the-hot-plate, hot-as-a-McDonald’s-lawsuit, sitting-next-to-the-microwave-at-the-convenience-store, pours-like-maple-syrup black coffee.

I want to be that guy— the black-coffee-drinking guy— the one who holds a small (or tall) non-eco friendly, un-biodegradable Styrofoam cup of bitter, burn-your-tongue-while-it-warms-your-buns black coffee.

I am not that guy. I drink Coke Zero. Coke Zero is not as manly as a cup of black coffee, though the can is black. I like that. I used to drink a lot of Diet Coke. The Diet Coke can is silver. Silver is not as manly as black.

I drink from a black can. I drink it cold. No cream, no sugar, just Coke Zero, black, straight out of the can. I am not hip or cool.

In our society, non-coffee drinkers are discriminated against. I am a member of the morning-beverage minority. It’s true. It’s brutal, and it’s not fair. The next time you attend a breakfast meeting, check out the beverage offerings— black coffee, decaffeinated coffee (both stored in very cool space-age designed air pots), and a pitcher of ice water. No soft drinks. Ever.

Try asking for a soft drink at the average morning business meeting and then watch the all-out scramble to find a beverage. After 20 frantic minutes, they’ll return to the table with a leftover Tab that has been sitting in the back of the break room fridge from the days when cigarettes were still being advertised on television.

Most coffee shops don’t even sell soft drinks. They offer crazy mango-papaya concoctions, and over-priced water, but no soft drinks. The baristas look down their noses at any poor slob who would not drink coffee.

Coffee servers even get cool names: Baristas. Who serves the members of the morning-beverage minority? Soda jerks.

I want to be a coffee drinker when I grow up. I want to sit in the coffee shop and drink a steaming tall cup of un-mocha’ed, non-frappe’d, black coffee. Until then, I’ll be a card-carrying member of the morning-beverage minority.

Purple Parrot Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup Brown sugar
Pinch salt
5 eggs
4 egg yolks
3 /4 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Pumpkin Spice

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees

Place softened cream cheese in large mixing bowl and beat using paddle attachment on medium speed until VERY smooth. Scrape sides and beat again to ensure there are no lumps.

Add brown sugar and mix well. Add in eggs and yolks a few at a time, allowing them to incorporate well before adding more.

Place the mixer on slow speed and add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and pumpkin spice. As soon as the pumpkin is incorporated, stop mixing

Pour the batter into a cheesecake crust (recipe listed below) and bake for 1-1 1 /2 hours. The cheesecake should jiggle slightly when tapped. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

To cut cheesecake, run a thin knife under hot water before cutting each slice.

Cheesecake Crust

1 1 /2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 /4 cup melted butter
1 /2 cup sugar

Combine crumbs and sugar and mix by hand Add butter in stages, mixing well before each addition.

Evenly distribute the crust in a nine-inch spring form pan, pressing it firmly on the bottom of the pan, and building crust up two inches on the sides of the pan.

Pour in the cheesecake batter and bake for 1-1 1 /2 hours. The cheesecakes should jiggle slightly when tapped.

Remove and cool refrigerate overnight before serving.

To cut, run a thin knife under hot water before cutting each slice.

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